A Living Portrait of India
|India Heritage:Performing Arts|
is the primeval expression of joy and wonder in any part of the world,
transcending barriers of culture and development. Ancient humans were
probably mimicking the movements of birds and animals in an attempt
to acquire or depict their unconscious grace and freedom of form and
motion. Dance as a structured entity was essentially part of the devotional
process. When combined with song and story-telling, dance metamorphosed
into theatre. One aspect or the other predominates in theatre and
the performing arts as we recognize them today.
The Natyashastra, the earliest Indian text on the subject, speaks of ekaharya (solo dance) and the anekaharya (dance as performed by more than one person). Written between 200 BC - AD 200 by Bharatmuni, the work divides dance into Nritta i.e. pure dance and Nritya i.e. expressional dance or pantomime. While the former is an act of beauty, not seeking to convey any meaning, the latter depicts emotions through facial expressions, movements of the eyes, and stylized gestures of the hands (mudras, less commonly known as hastas).