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Classical Dances of India with States, Updated List 2023

India boasts a rich tapestry of classical dances, each of 8 Classical Dances of India is a vibrant expression of cultural heritage. Bharatanatyam from Tamil Nadu features intricate footwork, while Kathak from North India narrates tales through rhythmic gestures. Odissi, rooted in Odisha, celebrates devotion, and Kuchipudi from Andhra Pradesh seamlessly blends dance, drama, and music. Kerala’s Kathakali is a captivating dance drama, while Mohiniyattam exhibits grace in Kerala. Manipuri from Manipur, and Assam’s Sattriya, reflect unique regional traditions, collectively embodying India’s diverse classical dance legacy.

Classical Dances of India

Classical Dance of India: Technicalities and rigid guidelines are a big part of classical dances. The technical underpinnings of all traditional dance forms are laid down in Acharya Nandikeshawara’s “Abhinaya Darpan,” Sharangdev’s “Sangeeth Ratnakar,” and the Natya Shastra (which includes their body movements, rasa, bhava etc). According to India’s Ministry of Culture, there are nine recognised classical dances. Dance is first mentioned in a well-known work in Bharat Muni’s book Natya Shastra. Folk and classical dances are just two of the many types of dance practised in India.

8 Classical Dances of India

Here is the List of Classical Dances of India:


Name of Classical Dance

Place of Classical Dance

1 Bharatanatyam Tamil Nadu
2 Kathak Northern India
3 Kathakali Kerala
4 Kuchipudi Andhra Pradesh
5 Manipuri Manipur
6 Mohiniyattam Kerala
7 Odissi Odisha
8 Sattriya Assam

Dance Forms in India

Indian classical and Folk dance are the two main types of dance forms in India. The place of origin is the main distinction between classical and folk dance. The Natya Shastra, which describes the distinctive characteristics of each of the classical dance styles, has a long history with classical dance. On the other hand, folk dance developed from the regional customs of the individual state, ethnic group, or geographic area.

9 classical dances of India are mentioned below:

  • Bharatanatyam, from Tamil Nadu.
  • Kathak, from Uttar Pradesh.
  • Kathakali, from Kerala.
  • Kuchipudi, from Andhra Pradesh.
  • Manipuri, from Manipur.
  • Mohiniyattam, from Kerala.
  • Odissi, from Odisha.
  • Sattriya, from Assam.
  • Chhau From Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha

Classical Dances of India with States

Dance Forms



Bharatanatyam Tamil Nadu
  • Bharatnatyam is an ekaharya dance genre in which a single dancer represents numerous roles in a single performance.
  • One of the most crucial texts for understanding the technique and grammar of body movement in Bharatnatyam dance is Nandikesvara’s Abhinaya Darpana.
Kuchipudi Andhra Pradesh
  • Kuchipudi is the name of a village with a long tradition of dance-drama in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district. Its general moniker was yakshagaana.
  • The Kuchipudi style of yakshagana was developed in the 17th century by Siddhendra Yogi. It is performed in groups because it is a dance play.
Kathakali Kerala
  • Kathakali is a form of Indian theatre that dramatises tales from Indian epics while including dance, music, and acting.
  • Varying hues on the face signify various mental states and personalities, such as green for nobility, black for wickedness, and crimson patches for monarchy and evil.
  • It is impossible to overestimate the significance of eye movements, facial emotions, and hand gestures.
Mohiniyattam Kerala
  • Mohiniyattam, also known as the dance of Mohini, is the traditional solo dancing style of Kerala (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu).
  • In the 1709 book Vyavahara Mala by Mazhamagalam Narayanan Namputiri, Mohiniyattam is mentioned.
Odissi Odisha
  • The performance’s principal themes are Lord Vishnu’s incarnations and passages from Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda.
  • The neck, torso, and knees of the body are deflected in Tribhanga and Chowk, respectively, which are the two main postures (a position imitating a square).
Manipuri Manipur
  • Manipuri dance has its roots in prehistoric times, which is a long time before history was written down.
  • There are legends about Shiva and Parvati, as well as other gods and goddesses who created the cosmos, dancing, and dance is connected to rituals and traditional festivals in Manipur.
Sattriya Assam
  • In order to preach the Vaishnava religion, Sankaradeva, a Vaishnava saint and Assamese reformer, created the Sattriya dancing style in the 15th century A.D.
  • Because of its religious roots and connection to the Sattras, this dance form is referred to as Sattriya.
Kathak Uttar Pradesh
  • The word “Kathak” is derived from the word “Katha,” which means “a story.”
  • Kathak started to change into a different type of dance with the growth of the bhakti movement in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Famous Classical Dancer in India



Rukmini Devi Arundale Bharatnatyam
Pandit Birju Maharaj Kathak
Uday Shankar Fusion
Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi
Guru Bipin Singh Manipuri
Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam Kuchipudi
Padma Subrahmanyam Bharatnatyam
Shovana Narayan Kathak

Classical Dances of India Components

From the musical play or sangeet-nataka performed from the 12th to the 19th century, contemporary classical dance styles have developed. Tandava (movement and rhythm) and Lasya are the two fundamental elements of Indian classical dance (grace, bhava & rasa). The three primary elements are-

  • Natya (the dramatic element of the dance i.e. the imitation of characters)
  • The Nritta (the dance movements in their basic form)
  • Nritya (expressional component i.e. mudras or gestures)

These are the nine rasas: love, heroism, pathos, humour, anger, fear, disgust, wonder, and peace. The Natya Shastra, authored by Bharat Muni, is the primary work used by Indian aestheticians to define the features of dance.

Classical Dances of India UPSC

The Ministry of Culture also recognises Chhau Dance as a classical dance of India, bringing the total number of classical dances in India to nine. Sangeet Natak Academy (India’s National Academy) only recognises eight of these dances.

Several crucial aspects of chhau dance are as follows:

  • The Chhau Dance has meaning because of the name “Chaya.” Chaya is Hebrew for shadow
  • Chhau dance is identified as a mask dance.
  • An essential component of Chhau Dance is its energetic martial arts moves.
  • Chhau Dance uses a number of narrations, including Serpent Dance and Peacock Dance.
  • The Chhau Dance comes in three varieties: The Chhau dance known as Saraikella is well-known in Jharkhand, as is the Chhau dance known as Mayurbhanj in Odisha, and the Chhau dance known as Purulia in West Bengal.
  • Masks are not used in the Mayurbhanj Chhau Dance.
  • The Chhau Dance was added to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity maintained by UNESCO.

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Classical Dances of India FAQs

What are the 8 main classical dances of India?

Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathakali, Sattriya, Manipuri, and Mohiniyattam are the eight dance forms that the Sangeet Natak Academy acknowledges. Chhau, Yakshagana, and Bhagavata Mela have also been added to the list by scholars like Drid Williams.

What are the 8 classical dances of India with states?

8 classical dances of India are:
• Tamil Nadu: Bharatanatyam
• Northern India: Kathak
• Kerala: Kathakali
• Andhrapradesh: Kuchipudi
• Manipur: Manipuri
• Kerala: Mohiniyattam
• Odissi: Odisha
• Sattriya: Assam

How many classical dances are in India?

There are eight classical dances in India

What are the six classical dance of India?

Six classical dance of India are:
• Bharatanatyam
• Kathakali
• Kathak
• Manipuri
• Kuchipudi
• Odissi

Which classical dance is best?

The best classical dance, commonly referred to as the "mother of all other classical dance styles," is known as Bharatanatyam. It is also one of the oldest dance forms in India, having descended from Tamil Nadu's temple dancers. Expressions, music, beat, and rhythm are all combined in the dance in its purest form.

Which are the 9 classical dance in India?

There are nine classical dance forms in India, which include Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Oddisi, Mohiniyattam, sattriya, and chhau.

What are the 9 Rasa of classical dance?

These are love (shringaara), laughter (haasya), kind-heartedness or compassion (karuna), anger (roudra), courage (veera), fear (bhayaanaka), disgust (bheebhatsya), wonder or surprise (adbhutha) and peace or tranquility (shaantha).

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