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Indian Classical Dance Forms and The Elements of Nature

India is a culturally diverse country, where almost every state has its own language, cuisine, and dance forms. The Indian classical dance forms are vibrant, colorful, rich in heritage, and they all tell a story while also having traditional and religious values being conveyed through them. But what really caught our attention is the mystical representation of the dance forms. 

Did you know that the Indian classical dance forms represent the metaphysical element of the human body? The elements being Fire, Air, Water, Earth, and Sky.  

If you too are fascinated by these facts, continue reading to discover which classical dance form represents which element.

Let's start with the mother of all classical dance forms in India, also known to be the oldest classical dance form. Hailing from South India, Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam is a beautiful amalgamation of two aspects; Lasya- the feminine, graceful movements and Tandava - the strong, masculine aspect. Bharatanatyam has the right blend of grace, poise, and vigor and due to the wide range of Bhavas (emotions) expressed in a performance, it is said to represent the metaphysical state of fire in a human being. The other explanation is that the dance form resembles the appearance of a flame in motion.


A dance form that nurtures the human spirit and connects it with the divine. Odissi is a portrayal of rhythmic dance movement enhanced by graceful gestures and expressions and sprinkled with moments of stillness. Odissi represents the element of water. An elixir of life, an essential for human beings. As calm when still and as powerful as the roaring waves. Odissi shows a range of emotions that is as diverse as water.


The traditional dance form, from the state of Andhra Pradesh. What sets apart Kuchipudi from the other dance forms is the inclusion of singing and the distinct movements on the brass plate. A religious form associated with bards, temples, and spirituality. Kuchipudi is a dance form linked to the metaphysical element of the earth representing fertility, motherhood, communication, nourishment, defense, grounding, manifestation, abundance, and prominence.


The word Mohiniattam comes from splitting the words "Mohini" and "Attam". Mohini meaning, the one who charms the viewers and "Attam" meaning dance. It is also known as the "dance of the enchantress". Dance form hailing from God's Own Country, they replicate the swaying of the palm leaves, flowing of the river, and the waves from the sea. Graceful, delicate, and elegant movements representing the element of air.


Like most of the other classical dance forms, Kathakali narrates a story mainly through drama. The word Kathakali is derived from two words; "Katha" story and "Kali" Drama. With dramatic costume and make-up that takes hours to put on, Kathakali is a wholesome storytelling experience in itself. It represents the Sky element, with vast jumps and dramatic movements, punctuated by sudden pauses, almost like a calm, clear sky after the rumbling thunders and lightning.


Dont just look, learn!

The various Indian classical dance forms, each with its unique nature are a great way to stay physically & mentally fit.

These dance forms preserve the rich heritage and cultural values of our country. As graceful and glorious they look while performing, they add so much strength, power, and personality to the person practicing it. If you'd love to learn these dance forms and do not know where to start, consider looking for live online dance workshops!

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