Dance and music are
the oldest and most original art forms in the world and especially numerous and
developed in South Asia. Thus the present-day practice of dance relates to the
most ancient past; one could say that it is contemporary and traditional at the
same time. Traditional dance is an integral part of the music culture in South
Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) and exists in numerous
Dance in Bangladesh
Dances from Western India
One could group South Asia Dance culture as
The Adivasi – the indigenous communities of
south Asia sometimes also called ‘tribal’ – community dances. Although there
are some common cultural traits within the tribal communities in south Asia,
there are, for instance, huge differences between groups in south India, the
central tribal belt of India, the north-eastern regions of Pakistan, different
parts of Bangladesh, or the north-east of India.
There are the rural community dances genres.
These art forms – like the Adivasi dances – are nearly always related to
life-cycle events (such as birth, puberty, marriage and death), to the cycle
of the agricultural year, or are ritualistic as they relate to local
religions, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, or Buddhism. In contrast to the
tribal dances, rural genres (as much as music) are often performed by
professional or at least specialised artist groups.
Some dances, for instance the Chau
dance of central and east India, have reached a regional importance and are
generally more stylised than the village dances.
Finally there are highly stylised, specialised
and structured art dances such as Kathakali, Bharatanatyam, Manipuri,
Kathak, Odissi, Sattriya, Kuchipudi, Kudiyattam or Mohiniyattam. All of
them have a regional origin, but they are regarded as national, classical or
south Asian dances.
within the tribal and rural traditions, musical performances often feature
specialised dancers and community dance. In nearly all tribal villages, men,
women and children dance together on many occasions. As with singing and the
playing of musical instruments here the average knowledge and skills are
generally higher than in any other south Asian communities.
Even in rural and tribal villages one can
observe that participation in dance has been declining due to the impact of the
massive film industry and television. Therefore most of these sophisticated
dance genres can be considered endangered and, if no further steps for
protection are taken, will become extinct in the near future. Even the
well-known art dances are neglected by audiences and funding
There are also positive developments such
as the growing public interest in rural and tribal music and dance and an
interaction of contemporary and traditional dancers and dance
Traditional dance genres
have been given a forum in the following