danza india



danza indiana



danza - particolare - india


In India all form of art have got sacred origins. In fact the scriptures say that the dance is born directly from Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of dancers. With his dance He creates the whole universe. References to the dance can be found starting from very early times in both, the literature and the figurative art. The dance had a main role in most of the classic Vedic and Sanskrit literature, as well as in the purana epic. When a dancer dances a different literary and religious tradition comes to life: she expresses through the movements of her body what a writer wants to describe through his words. Many are the poets who draw their inspiration from the dance to communicate images of beauty and harmony. The Natyashastra is the oldest book of dramaturgy. In this treatise its author , the wise Bharata, informs that the science of Natya was revealed to him by Brahma, the creator. He, in a status of deep meditation, collected together the wisdom of all four Veda and created the Natya Veda, also known as the fifth Veda. The dance, as close activity of man, has accompanied his life since the dawning of civilization. However with the passage to a more organised and mature society the bond between dance and religion became stronger. On one side the dance gained very important divine meanings and on the other side a very specific social role. It was very soon included among the religious practices and considered one of the highest form of adoration of the divinity. In the Indian religions, hence in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, either the music or the dance had a fundamental role in the manifestation of devotion. The Indian mythology testifies that the dance is a divine activity that divinities love admiring and participate to it with enthusiasm. With regard to that a passage of the Vishnudharmottarapurana says:

“When someone dances this is considered a ritual act of adoration of the divinity; gods are pleased of such act more than the offers of flowers and the oblations. The one who worships god with nrtya obtains the realisation of all his desires and the path to moksa.”

The Indian classic dance (margi) grew and developed itself in a strict discipline both, physical and intellectual and has got many forms and styles scattered in the whole continent. Besides the classic forms of dance there are the folk one (deshi). These folk dances are very old and represent a practice which is still very popular today in the rural environments and in the agricultural society during the festive celebrations. In the past these two forms of dance were probably only one reality. Over the centuries some dances become part of the religion and acquired a strict codification, throwing this way the seeds of the following styles of the classical Indian dance: bharatanatyam, kathakali, odissi, kuchipudi, kathak, manipuri.
That process which will transform the temple in the heart of the Indian religious, social, artistic end financial life is supposed to start from the Gupta age (IV-VI century a.C). During such process the dance had a fundamental role in the figure of the devadasi, or slaves of the divinity. The divine character of the dance and the music is also testified by the figurative arts. Among the earliest examples there are some mural paintings, the dancer of Mohenjodaro and the headless torso found in Harappa. The highest blossoming of sculptures represented in dancing position will appear, anyway, between the seventh and twelfth century when images of dancing divinities, human beings, and semi-divine who are dancing are represented either on the inside walls of the Hindu temples as well as on the outside walls. An equally abundant religious literature, promoter of stories and myths relative to different divinities, corresponded to this prolificacy of depictions. The creation of three-dimensional pictures, of which Shiva Nataraja is the highest example, had similar spread. This representation of dancing God Shiva can be defined one of the sublime symbols of the refinement and depth of the Hindu thought. The style traceable in the posture of the dancing divinities could correspond to the one used by the female and male dancers inside the temple. The relieves on the walls, if interpreted in this light, become like a carved sculptured book acting as a model for the dancer and a loyal mirror of the life taking place in the temple. This would be a further demonstration of the fact that the dance was an integral part of the ritualistic practice even though it was not limited to this field. Dancers were in fact also invited at court in order to entertain the king and the noblemen. This role of the dance spread especially in the late medieval period when with the arrival of the Muslims dancing in the temples in the North became very difficult. The situation in the South of India was anyway different from the one in the North. The Muslim penetration in the South was in fact less significant at least until a certain period; a factor that helped the blossom of the temple cities and of the royal patronage especially under the Chola sovereigns. The work of the Muslims in the north and the arrival of the English people accelerated the transformation process that involved also the dance.