Over the years Indian Classical dance forms went through stages of evolution to institute themselves on the grounds of possibilities. It is very unfortunate for the impending generations to grow devoid of the essence of Classical Dance forms that paved their way for cultural mingling and diversified amalgamation over the tough decades. However, through the blessed hands of eminent Gurus, Indian Classical dance forms are still proudly alive and afresh across the entire Indian subcontinent. Keeping awake their gorgeous traditions, Indian Classical Dance Forms have matured the psycho-physical system of human body through ‘mudras’, ‘abhinayas’ and ‘bhangis’.

The discussion here is much elevated to the point of wonder that most of us have been into. ‘Dance’ itself is an alleviating physical exercise that keeps potential positive effects in shaping up and bettering the physiological and psychological well being. Scientists through endless researches and factual thesis have discovered dance to be that amazing discipline that can be counted upon its benefiting results in increasing lung function, lung capacity, flexibility and aerobic capacity. ‘Dance therapy’ is a specialized practice that helps to enhance  cognitive, behavioural and emotional aspects with its psycho-therapeutic use.

Dance Form : Kathak

Indian Classical Dance forms: Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Manipuri, Kathakali, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam are the seven forms that can be talked about to have their psychological implications and spiritual expansion where the dancer gives in his being, goes through the hurdles of intricate foot works, dramatic execution(abhinaya) and transcends his soul to the routes of salvation(Moksha).  Let us discuss how these seven Classical dances progressed to build up therapeutic values rooted in their postures and movements.

KATHAK:  A North Indian narrative classical dance form that is characterised by its speedy foot works(tatkar), spins (chakkar) and innovative blend of bhav(expression) in its abhinaya(enactment). In the context of ‘Dance therapy’, Kathak is a complete dynamic area. It acts as a stimulus that affects the body in its entirety.

The fast footwork helps to release anger and tension. The thaat performed in this dance form includes the therapeutic torso movements and it is now used for the treatment purpose and also as a form of physical exercise.

Dance Form : Bharatnatyam

BHARATNATYAM:  Emerged in Tanjore of Tamil Nadu, Bharatnatyam is an exalted dance form that history of Indian Classical Dance has ever been prized with. It encompasses all the traditional aspects of Classical dance. The eye-hand movements help the dancer to express his subtle shades of emotions.

The nine delicate emotional spasms: Sringar, Hasya, Karun, Roudra, Beer, Vyanak, Bhibatshya, Adbhut, Shaant  get manifested through ‘Navarasa’( The dancer’s nine emotional spheres). This dance form strengthens the hamstring muscles making them much more active and spirited.

MANIPURI: It was initially performed in the temples of Manipur (North-east India) and because of its devotional attribute it started getting spread across India moving beyond the religious and social fabric of Manipur.

Dance Form : Manipuri

The traditional lyrical and graceful movements of Manipuri embodies a tough regime of body control behind its outwardly soft impression. The rounded movements avoid jerks or sharp edges. The dancer therefore ends up having undulating and tranquil appearance, proper body control and peace of mind.

KATHAKALI: It was generated in Southern Indian state of Kerala. Kathakali dancers are characterised by their enormously heavy attire and make-up and the geometric patterns they make while holding a good grip of a certain posture. The therapeutic facet of this dance form mainly deals with the facial muscle.

Dance Form : Kathakali

This powerful dance form is mostly performed by the male dancers. Elaborate facial gestures and muscular movements help the dancer to release his tension and rage making the body calm and poised.

ODISSI: It is a temple dance tradition from Orissa. The ‘Chouka’ and the ‘Tribhangi’ are the most characterised features that make Odissi unlike of all other dance forms. The torso movement and smart yet delicate gestures make Odissi one of the most graceful dance forms in India.

Dance Form : Odissi


Prolonged practice of this dance form provides the dancer with a fine tender shape; especially to female dancers. The present few studies revealed that Odissi dancers have great lung function, and muscular control of waist, hip and thigh.

KUCHIPUDI: It was originated in Andhra Pradesh. The movements in Kuchipudi are capricious, scintillating, vibrant and fleet-footed. The dance assures proper body balance. Therapeutic effects of this dance are embedded in its grace and fluidity.

Dance Form : Kuchipudi

The survey conducted with the dancers showed strong effect of some muscles including rectus abdominis, abdominal external oblique and latissimus dorsi.

Dance Form : Mohiniattyam

MOHINIYATTAM: Another classical dance form from South India that got its root in Kerala. It is performed by woman dancer as a solo recital and is distinguished by its appearance and grace. Mohiniyattam literally means ‘Dance of the enchantress’. The dancers show a good strength and control over different muscles like adductor muscles, quadriceps femoris, soleus, tibialis posterior, peroneus longus and so on. All these body movements, body balancing, expression, muscle movement, muscle constriction and relaxation have a strong effect on therapeutic movements.

Hence, going through the thorns of modernity, Indian Classical Dance has kept its head high to reach out to the devotees spreading its charismatic aura across the cultural barriers. Its therapeutic efficacy and aesthetic air have made it very different yet magical over the vast span of time period.

Content writer : Manjima Sarkar
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