A list of 8 major dance forms of India with states

dance forms

Dance is a beautiful practice of soothing our mind and refreshing our soul. It is also an essential form of exercise which can keep us perfectly fit and fine. And when we talk about a country like India- dance is a crucial factor, as each in India has at least one or two symbolic dance forms.

From Kashmir to Kanyakumari- the variety of rhythmic bellies seen are extremely pure bliss to your eyes. Just like Kerala has Kathakali and Rajasthan has Ghoomar- each state here has a colorful background of their dancing feet. This article will take you through the tour of some of the most famous and celebrated dance forms of India.


Kathakali is a major Indian dance form not only in Kerala but around the globe. It is a “story play” genre of art which means while performing Kathak the artist portrays a complete story to the audience. That’s why even the word Kathakali has two components ‘Katha’ which means a story and ‘kali’ which means performance. The dance symbolizes the eternal fight between the good and the bad. Kathakali is known to be the most difficult dance form to pull out on stage as the choreography includes both- the dance and the acting. There are 24 main mudras, and numerous more minor ones in Kathakali, there are also nine facial expressions known as ‘navarasas’.

The three types of drums of Kathakali are Maddalam, Chenda, and Idakka. The start is usually through the music and later the lyrics are sung by the vocalist on which the actual dance starts. The art form also involves several national awards like Nambeesan Smaraka Awards — for artistic performances related to kathakali or International Centre for Kathakali Award.

kathakali,dance form of india,india,indianness


Nati is a traditional dance form mainly practiced in Kullu, Shimla, Sirmaur, Chamba and Kinnaur districts of Himachal Pradesh. It is among the largest folk dance of India mainly because of the majority of people participating in the dance which was last counted around 9892 women in 2015. Now, Nati itself has several forms including Kullvi Nati, Mahasuvi Nati, Sirmauri Nati, Kinnauri Nati, and Lahauli Nati. The costumes are mostly ‘Churidar’ or ‘Ghagra’ choli with accessories like ‘Chanki’ and ‘Tunki’. ‘Dhol’, ‘Shehnai’ or ‘Nagara’ are the instrument usually used in creating music for the dance form.

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Kalbelia is among the most important dance forms of Rajasthan which performed by the tribe of a similar name. Men and women both enthusiastically participate in the art and celebrate it like no one else! Yes, this dance form is actually celebrated, the Kalbelia dance, performed as a celebration, is an integral part of Kalbelia culture.

The dance serves as a hallmark of pride for the tribe. The songs for Kalbelia are mostly based on stories taken from folklore or Hindu mythologies. Special dances are performed during the festive time of Holi. Women adorn Black long skirts with Ghoonghro as a must for performing Kalbelia. The combination of colors and clothes are designed in such a way that it serves soothing experience in the eyes of the audience.  

kalbelia.dance form of india,india,indianness


Ghoomar is a traditional folk dance form of Rajasthan. The dance was originated by the Bhil tribe who performed to worship Goddess Sarasvati and later the dance form was embraced by other Rajasthani communities thus making it one of the most crucial dance forms of the state. One ritual also says that it is mandatory for the brides of Rajasthan to perform the dance to her new marital home.

It is also performed on various other occasions like festivals and special celebrations. Recently the Ghoomar song from the Bollywood movie ‘Padmavat’ depicts the clear structure about how the art is performed and the helped it gain the mainstream attention. The dance is chiefly performed by veiled women who wear flowing dresses called Ghaghara. In 2013 Ghoomar was ranked 4th on the top 10 dance forms in the world!

ghoomar,dance form of india,india,indianness


Panthi is a dance form originated from the state Chhattisgarh. This Indian folk dance is a prominent ritual of the Satnami community of Chhattisgarh. The dance was first performed on the birth anniversary of Guru Ghasidas on Maghi Purnima and since then the dance is celebrated all across the state. The dance is a mixture of complex steps and patterns. The song for the dance eulogize the minds of the performer as well as the audience. The Dance is extremely expressive in its portrayal and is performed to the backup of musical beats.

panthi,dance form of india,india,indianness


The Gambhira dance is performed all over North Bengal during the festival of Chaitra Sankranti. Dancers wear masks made up of neem and fig trees. Sometimes they are also made up of musk of clays. The tradition is also popular in the nearby districts of Rajshahi and Naogaon. The dance slightly differs in its genre as it usually tells a story to the audience and raises a concern about social issues. It is performed with a distinctive rhythm and with at least two performers, always personifying a man and his maternal grandfather. Gambhira songs are assumed to have originated from the worship of the God Shiva who is also known as ‘Gambhir’.

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Bharatanatyam is the most popular dance form from the state of Tamil Nadu. If goes thought the details on Wikipedia Bharatanatyam style is noted for its fixed upper torso, legs bent or knees flexed out combined with spectacular footwork, a sophisticated vocabulary of sign language based on gestures of hands, eyes and face muscles. But for the natives, it is more than that. It is a practice to express and educate. The dance form narrates a complete story throughout the play. It is usually a team performance with a female as a solo dancer accompanied by musicians and singers. This dance form holds a special value not by the people of Tamil Nadu but throughout the country maybe because of its deep history and struggles to come in the limelight.

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Jagoi also is known as Manipuri dance is originated by the beautiful state of Manipur. The art is famous for its love-themed plays mostly portraying the drama of Radha and Krishna- Raslila. It is also famous particularly for its Hindu Vaishnavism theme. It is a team performance, with its own unique costumes, aesthetics, and repertoire. The Manipuri dance is not just a dance but more a spiritual activity and expression of spiritual values. Women usually wear ‘Potloi’ costumes like ‘Kumli’ with heavy accessories. The instruments used are the Pung, a singer, small kartals, sembong, harmonium, a stringed instrument called the Pena and a flute.   

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