The following is a post by Narayani Maharaj an instructor, performer, and Director of  the Belly Motions Bollywood Program.

Narayani Maharaj!

Hello!, my name is Narayani Maharaj!I am a professional performer and instructor of Indian dance!

I was born and raised in Venezuela to a Hindu family (Hinduism is the main religion in India).  I began my studies of  South Indian Classical dance  or “Bharatanatyam” at the age of nine! My inspiration came from the dancers I would witness at the temples where my parents and I would worship.

Today, I will be giving you a basic intro. to Indian Dance!

First, India has a variety of folkloric and classical dances that have been around for centuries.  In general, these dance styles were born from religious practices.These dances are an ancient art form originally performed in temples as an offering to the Gods and have developed over the centuries into different styles such as classical, folk, tribal, and modern. Today you will see these different styles performed in temples, at weddings, in films and in the theater.

One of the main characteristics that define many Indian Dance styles are the story telling and the geometric movements used. 

Narayani performing Bharatanatyam

Indian dance styles have intricate foot work, are extremely expressive, and use hand gestures called “mudras” that have specific meanings.  Every movement, action, and pose is carefully chosen to tell a complete story.

There are 8 dance styles in Indian Classical Dance and hundreds of folk and tribal dances!

Odissi and Kathak Dancers

Classical Indian Dance Styles Include:

Bharatanatyam (from Tamil Nadu, in the South)

Kathak (from Uttar Pradesh, in the North)

Kathakali (from Kerala, in the Southwest)

Kuchipudi (from Andhra Pradesh, in the South-Southeast)

Manipuri (from Manipur, in the Northeast)

Mohiniyattam (from Kerala/Tamil Nadu, in the South)

Odissi (from Orissa, in the East)

Sattriya(from Assam, in the Northeast)

Bhangra Dance!

Folk & Tribal Styles Include:

Bhangra (from Punjab, in  the Noth)

Dandiya Rasa (from Gujarat, in the West)

Garba (from Gujarat, in theWest)

Gidda (from Punjab in North India)

Ghoomar (from Rajasthan, in the West)

Jhummar ( from Punjab, in the North)

Kalbelia ( from Rajasthan, in the West)

Koli (from Maharastra and Goa, in the West)

Modern Indian Dances:

Modern Indian dances are a combination of Classical dance with folk dances fused with components of other styles such as ballet, jazz, hip hop, Latin, and Belly Dance. One of the most popular styles is Bollywood Dance.  Bollywood Dance is from Mumbai, the center of the Indian film industry and can be seen in almost any Indian movie.

Bollywood Performance by Narayani and students!

Bollywood Performance by Narayani and students!

 Would you like to learn any of these wonderful Indian dance forms?

Check out the Bollywood class schedule and Facebook Page!