Nataraj the dancing Lord Shiva

Dance

Our name giving symbol is the dancing Lord Shiva, called Nataraj. In ancient times, the art of dancing was taught in temples. The dancers learnt from their childhood on and their whole lives were dedicated to dance. When the British government occupied India, temple schools were closed and only a few teachers saved the tradition of classical dance. After that time, it was revived again and developed to its contemporary form. 

Each dancer needs an intensive education of the numerous positions, movements, signs, gestures and mimics. Even if you want to learn 'Bollywood style' - which developed from the classical form - you have to get through with one of the following dance forms: Kathak from the north of India (in contact with Muslim culture), Manipuri from northeast, Orissi from Orissa in the east of India, Kuchipuri from Andhra Pradesh (also east), Bharat Natyam from Tamil Nadu in southeast, Kathakali and Mohini Attam from Kerala in southwest. 

Another style is folk dance. The famous Bengali author Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) wrote a significant number of poems and dance dramas which were shown in beautiful performances by the common folk. A great similarity of all those dance forms is the predominant religious basis showing the Indian population's love to nature and romance.


Musical instruments

Music

In India, classical music and dance are related to the Vedas. The second book, Sama-Veda, contains a collection of simple chants and bols. Nowadays, classical Indian music is structured into four styles which base on pure melodic systems - in contrast to Western music which bases on 'harmony'. The songs are characterized by Raga (type of melody) and Tala (beat). The dancer follows it with the feet. Face, eyes, hands and the body express words and moods of the song. 

Most famous Indian stringed instruments are Sitar and Vina. We have Midranga and Tabla as drums, Bansuri as one of the wind instruments. Also the reed organ plays a big role in Indian music.