‘’Dancing brings me to enter in a state of meditation. The practice of yoga helped me to understand physical, psychic and spiritual work, and channel the energy in the dance. This harmony of body and mind, and this connection with the divine are always present in the culture and Indian dances’’.
Indian classical dance is one of the most ancient traditions of dance in the world, and has its origins in the pre-Hinduism ancient culture.
It flourished during the classic period (4-8 centuries AD), when the temple temple complex and the court were the center of powerful Hindu dynasties. Dance played a key role in the lives of people, and represented religious stories of the several exploits of the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon.
The devadasis, women dedicated to dance in the temples in sacred rites, were especially respected in society. However, in the era of British colonialism, with the decline of the Hindu kingdoms, began a period of stagnation for Indian dance. Stripped of its status as a ritual dance, these dancers were suddenly considered low caste women by the British, and many of them condemned to prostitution. Finally, with the help of the Indian upper classes of British education, the position of these dancers in the temples was abolished.
With the arrival of cinema in the 1920s, traditional dance gurus made classic style choreographies in the early mythological films. They were considered “Masters of Dance”, and it was established that classical music and dance reflected the aesthetic and cultural values of Brahman Hinduism. Art began to be rescued, but was also somehow reinterpreted by this elite high Bhahmins male lineage gurus.
In the 1940s, the choreography of the movies became an indispensable part of Indian cinema. Even the actresses were chosen for their skill in dance, rather than their interpretation. Many classical dancers made the leap to film.
In the 50s, the traditional dance was slowly giving way to a smore fluid style, with choreographies set in other scenarios or with elaborate fictional stories in the plot of the film. These sequences introduced the viewer in Western styles.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the disco music, the influence of Broadway musicals and the arrival of video clips, placed the dance on the pedestal of Indian films, which was interested in new modern styles. Choreographers began to incorporate Western artists movements, merging with Indian dance, and adapting them to own genre.
This is how the great Indian film industry “Bollywood”, based in the city of Bombay (now Mumbai), has come to create a style of dance, with choreographies that are often more powerful and more expected that the story plot of the film.