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Culture of Karnataka - Dances of Karnataka

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The dances of Karnataka can be classified under two major categories - classical and folk. Depending upon the content and purpose of the folk dances, these are further classified under two categories, namely religious and secular. Most of the folk dances of Karnataka have evolved from religion, and as such they are religious in nature and are mostly performed during festivals, fairs and religious occasions, which are celebrated by the local tribes and communities with lots of jest.

There are folk dances of Karnataka which are dedicated to major deities like Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and the Goddess Parvathy Devi. Some of the dances

dedicated to Lord Shiva include Nandi Dhwaja, Lingada-Berana, Gorava dance and Beesu Kamsale, while Bhagawanthike, Pata Kunitha and Bana Devara Kunitha are dances dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Dollu Kunitha, Karaga, Soman Kuntiha, Bhoota Nrutya, Naga Nrutya, are the folk dances performed to worship the different incarnations of Mother Shakthi, who is believed to be the deity of power. Dollu Kunitha, Puja Kunitha, Devare Thatte Kunitha, Yellammana Kunitha, Suggi Kunitha and Pata Kunitha, etc. are some of the folk dance forms of Karnataka. These dances are highly popular in Karnataka and are accompanied by the heavy and fast beats of drums and singing.

In the dance ritual of Nandi Dhwaja, the skilled and experienced dancers use bamboo poles, which are attractively decorated and are about 20 to 25 feet long and 4 inches wide. The pole is placed in a pouch worn by the dancer and is balanced at 90 degrees angle, while the dancer performs rhythmic movements and complex acrobats while dancing to the heavy beating of drums and other musical instruments. This dance is performed throughout Karnataka, except in the Kodugu district, and is an important dance of Karnataka.

The Dolu Kunitha is a dance which is performed by the men of the shepherd community, also known as the Kuruba community. Here the dancers dance in a synchronized manner in group formations, making quick movements to the vigorous drum beats, keeping with the quick pace of the dance. Drums are decorated with coloured cloth, and they are slung from the percussionists' neck.

In Puja Kunitha, Devare Thatte Kunitha, Yellammana Kunitha and Suggi Kunitha, the dancers carry the deity on a wooden structure, on their heads or in their hands, while dancing. In Pata Kunitha, the men dancers carry tall bamboo poles which are colourfully decorated with ribbons and are crowned with tiny silver or brass umbrellas. In Puja Kunitha, emphasis is given more to the body movements of the dancers which are very skillful in nature, where the dancers perform with colourfully decorated bamboo poles to the heavy beats of the drums.

Most of the dance forms of Karnataka are ritualistic dances, performed by the various tribes. Some dances are also performed using percussion instruments and flutes.You can see these dances being performed in Bangaluru and Mandya districts of Karnataka. Most of these religious folk dances are named after the deity or the symbol or instruments used in the dance performances. These are either held in the dancers' hands or heads, while they dance to the fast beat of the drums. The dancers also wear colourful clothes and anklets, which make rhythmic sounds while they tap their feet to the beat of the drums.

Besides the folk dance tradition, Karnataka also has a rich legacy of classical dance forms. The Mysore style of Bharatanatyam, which is the oldest and the most popular form of classical dance, is very famous in Karnataka. You can also see Kuchipudi and Kathak dance forms here.
 

Costumes of Karnataka | Handicrafts of Karnataka | Dances of Karnataka | Languages of Karnataka
 

   
 

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