India has a very rich tradition of classical dance. The Natya Shastra, which is the oldest surviving text on stagecraft in the world, spends a considerable time discussing it. In the old days of the theatre, the dancers would mime the story while the singers would sing the dialogue. The instrumentalists would accompany them all.
This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India known as Kathakaris, or story tellers. Thes bards, performing in village squares and temple courtyards, mostly specialised in recounting mythological and moral tales from the scriptures and ambellished their recitals with hand gestures and facial expressions. It was quintessential theatre using instrumental and vocal music along with stylised gestures to enliven the stories.
This is one of the oldest amd most popular forms of dance in India. Bharatha stands for Bhavana which is mood. Raga is music, and Tala is rhythm, while Natyam stands for Nritya. Movement, mime and music are given equal importance in this dance. The costumes used in a performance are elaborate. The dancer's dress consists of colourful silk cistumes, head-wear ornaments, necklacesa and bangles. Flowers are wound around a long plait.
Kathakali is the traditional dance of Kerala and is one of the oldest forms of theatre in the world. It is a combination of dance and drama where the actors depict characters from Indian mythology, mainly from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The facial expressions and hand grestures are an important facet of this dance form, enhanced by the traditional makeup and costumes. The makeup is of five types: