Dance is a performance art form and a consistent movement with aesthetic and symbolic values in India. Dance in India has generally classified as classical or folk dance where different forms of dances have originated from different parts of the country. There are many awe-inspiring dance forms as India has thousands of years old tradition of fine arts and classical and folk dances. Therefore, below are the 5 most famous classical dance forms that originated in India; Odissi of Orissa, Kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh, Manipuri of Manipur, Kathakali of Kerala and Bharatnatyam of Tamil Nadu.


Odissi dance is an ancient Indian classical dance form from Orissa, originated in the Hindu sanctuaries. This dance form is performed majorly by women and traces back to ancient Sanskrit text Natya Shastra wherein the dance pose reflects the statues of the Hindu deities. In this classical dance, the artists and musicians play out a mythical story, a spiritual message including, devotional poem from the Hindu textual content, using symbolic costumes.

Odissi is believed to be the oldest of the surviving complex and expressive Indian classical dance, with over fifty mudras. It has two major styles, one majored by women focusing on portentous spiritual temple dance (maharis); the second excelled by the boys draped as girls also known as gotipuas which includes athletics and acrobatics performed for festive occasions as a form of folk entertainment.


Kuchipudi is a classical dance drama performance art, rooted in the ancient Hindu Sanskrit textual content of Natya Shastra. Originated in a village of Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, Kuchipudi is considered to be highly ritualized dace with a formalized song and dance introduction, following with sprinkling of sacred water, smoldering of incense and summoning of the goddesses. Kuchipudi is a classical dance form devoted in favor of Lord Krishna.


Originated from the Northeastern state of Manipur, Manipuri classical dance also known as Jagoi, reflects the worship of Lord Vishnu. It is also an exquisite performance of love-inspired dance drama of Radha Krishna called Raslila. Manipuri dance is a religious art which is rooted in Manipuri culture, its aim is to express the spiritual values and to please and worship the god during the Lai Haraoba festival.

“Nowhere else in India are dance and music so closely interwoven with rituals and religious practice. One rarely comes across any Manipuri (Meitei) who does not know dance and music”, stated, Eminent dance critic and scholar Dr. Kothari.


Kathakali is also a religious dance form slightly similar to Bharatnatyam. However, unlike Bharatnatyam, Kathakali is usually performed by men, even for the roles of females. It is a popular dance form of South India from the state of Kerala. In this dance, heavy costumes and makeup are essential where dancers appear to be wearing painted masks and huge headdresses. This dance form draws an inspiration from the Ramayana and stories from Shaiva traditions.


India’s one of the most famous classical dance, Bharatnatyam was originated in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu. It is a solo dance performed exclusively by women. The dance form is believed to be more than 2000 year old, reflecting Hindu religious themes and spiritual ideas, predominantly classified this as a sacred dance in a Sanskrit text called the Natya Shastra. The dance movements are characterized by bent legs, while feet keep rhythm. Hands may be used in a series of mudras (symbolic hand gestures) in order to tell a story.