The Art of Motion: Charting the History and Legacy of Dance Expression

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Dance is the language of the body, which portrays many expressions through body movements. It is one of the most profound arts that has grown beautifully over the centuries. From worshipping Gods to celebrating festivals and accomplishments, dance proved to be the best way to express oneself. Get access to the latest dance shows with PrimeVideo Coupons through Cashaly to get unlimited entertainment.

When performed to music, it becomes more elegant as the dancer catches the rhythm that they connect with more. In the modern world, dance has developed many other art forms known by different names. Various art forms like martial arts, gymnastics, cheerleading, figure skating, synchronized swimming, marching bands, and many more seem to be like or inspired by dance.

Dance could be anything from giving marvelous expressions to just swaying to your favorite song. And that is how it became the source of being an individual who can move however they want. Earlier in the centuries, dance was very different from what it has become.

It takes a lot of physical strength and mental focus to bring out the best performance. A person needs to develop the movements of any dance form through regressive practice and dedication. Every dance form has its own techniques that require opening up the dancer’s body with relevant exercises.

Keep reading the blog to learn more about the history of dance in motion.

History of Dance in Early Age

India is the oldest country, with archaeological evidence not limited to dance but covering almost a wide area of history. In terms of dance history, India has found evidence in the paintings in the rock shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh, which are 10,000 years old.

The Vedas are engraved with several rituals, performances of dance, and dramatic plays. Prayers to God or reciting spiritual songs and moving on them with a flow are also major background elements of dance. There are verses written in Sanskrit elaborating on a play between two actors.

More early dance-related evidence can be found in the Natasutras mentioned in the text of Panini. Two scholars named Śilālin and Kṛśaśva are believed to be pioneers as they studied the ancient drama, singing, dance, and Sanskrit compositions for these arts.

It was found that the Natasutras were composed around 600 BCE; however, the complete manuscript has not been found to survive in the modern age. Natya Shastra is the Hindu classic text found to survive with dance and performance arts descriptions and evidence.

In Natya Shastra, he dedicates his art of text to the Brahma who created Natya-Veda which was inspired by the Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda. The Natya Shastra text consists of 6000 verses that are structured into 36 chapters where you find classical dance forms of India.

Explore the Indian Classical Forms

India is the home of classical and folk dance forms that are found in different parts of the country. They have emerged and been inspired by Indian traditions, epics, and mythology. The classical forms are based on the majority of drama and theatre depicting a story through gestures. The story’s depiction is based on Hindu mythology, which represents the culture and ethics of the people or region.

The art of acting, Natya Shastra, sets the guidelines for being identified as a classical dancer or artist. The Sangeet Natak Akademi offers degrees in eight Indian classical dance forms that we will be talking about in brief.


Bharatnatyam dates back to 1000 BC and is a classical form from South India, Tamil Nadu. It is usually performed with classical Carnatic music. This beautiful dance form is largely performed by solo women dancers, expressing Hindu religious themes and the spirituality of Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism.

Bharatnatyam, including various classical dance forms, was forced to be suppressed during the colonial period by the British. However, as soon as the Britishers left, the dance form grew largely in India and internationally. It became a symbolic dance form that represented India in the eyes of foreigners.


Kathakali is made with two words, ‘Katha’ means story, and ‘Kali, which means performance. Therefore, as the name suggests, the dance is based on depicting a story through classical movements. It originated in Kerala in the 17th century and specialises in highly stylized dance drama. Here the dancer wears colorful makeup, costumes, and face masks to get ready for the performance.

 Being another story-play dance form, Kathakali was developed as a Hindu performance art to perform the mythological plays of Hinduism. Recorded in the most recent classical forms, its roots can be found in temple and folk arts; for example, Kutiyattam can be found in records from the 1st millennium CE. This form also takes various movements from ancient martial arts.


Kathak is another story-based dance form where Katha, which is a Sanskrit word, means story, and the word Kathak means the storyteller or the person who tells the story. This dance form evolved during the Bhakti movement of the Hindu God Krishna and depicted his childhood. It was also suppressed under colonial rule by Britishers and gained attention again post-independence.

Kathak is a form that is presented with a ghungroo tied on the ankles of the legs, keeping the torso straight. The small bells harmoniously move with the music, and the story is present with different arm gestures called mudras and other movements like facial expressions, stage movements, bends, and turns.


Kuchipudi originated in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh in the modern era. It is also based on religious and traditional beliefs connected to poets who traveled to different places, temples, and other spiritual practices. This dance form was performed by males in history, mostly Brahmins. In the modern era, both men and women participate in the performance. They were dressed as male and female dancers for the story.

It is believed by modern Kuchipudi heritage that Tirtha Narayana Yati and his disciple, an orphan named Siddhendra Yogi, founded and stylized this art form in the 17th century. It has grown more based on the Hindu God Krishna-oriented Vaishnavism tradition. It also related more to the Bhagavata Mela performance art in Tamil Nadu. Here, the vocalists and musicians partner with dance artists.


Odissi originated in Odisha temples in India and was performed by women dancers. This dance form revolves around the ideology of Vaishnavism, which is Vishnu as Jagannath. Here the dancers express spiritual and religious stories, including those of Hindu Gods Shiva and Surya and Goddess Shaktism.

It involves symbolic costumes, abhinaya, meaning expressions, body movement, and mudras, meaning gestures, which are all stated in ancient Sanskrit texts. To incorporate music, the musicians play various genres, such as mythical stories, spirituality, or poems dedicated to Gods with different instruments.


Sattriya is another classical dance performance art that revolves around the Krishna Vaishnavism monasteries of Assam. It started in the 15th century during the Bhakti movement regarding the saint named Srimanta Sankardev. Its one-act that is played by Sattriya is called Ankiya Nat and is performed through melodious songs, drama, and dance.

These plays are performed in the dance community halls of monastery temples, also known as namghar. The plays are related to Radha and Krishna or Vishnu avatars like Sita and Ram.


Manipuri, as the name suggests, originates from the state of Manipur in India. Manipur Raas Leela Dance is a unique dance form performed and loved in northeastern India. The dance form is inspired by the Radha-Krishna dance known as Ras Lila. Its performances are based on Hindu Vaishnavism themes that are inspired by love.

 The performances also include themes related to Shaivism and Shaktism. A group of dancers perform the Raas-Leela in elegant costumes. Kumil, which is a barrel-shaped decorated skirt, has conventions, repertoire, and aesthetics.


Mohiniyattam originates from Kerala, and its name is derived from its mythological background. Mohini is the seductress avatar of God Vishnu, who implies her charm to persuade the battle going on between good and evil. As per the description in Natya Shastra, Mohiniyattam involves the Lasya style with feminine energy.

 It is performed solo by a woman during intensive training, and its repertoire tells us about the purity and expression of dance, the time of Sopana, and that slow melody, including recitation. The songs for this dance form are found in Malayalam-Sanskrit, also known as Manipravala.

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In this blog, we have discussed the art of motion and charted the history of dance. The history goes beyond what we know today. Some of it you will find in the ancient temples in the form of carvings on the walls and sculptures. From these carvings and ancient paintings, one can find out more about how it was back then and how the dancers were used to celebrate prayer with their body movements. Make your dance shows more interesting with the Voot Coupon Code through Cashaly. 

 With this evidence, we learn more about ancient civilization and not only about art forms. The classical dance forms are a precious heritage for India, as they tell us more about the culture and Gods. The stories we have all always heard of can be presented beautifully through gestures, expressions, and body movements. And this is all about what dance is and the authenticity of it.

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