|Chhau||Mask dance with vigorous movements that narrate mythological stories. Chhau is performed in Odisa, West bengal and Jharkhand. In 2011 it was added to UNESCO list of intangible heritage items.|
|Garba||Popular in gujarat and it is held at the time of Navratra.|
|Dandiya raas||It represents the mock fight between durga and mahishasura|
|Tarangmel||Folk dance of Goa that is performed during dussera and holi.|
|Ghumar||Performed by bhil women of rajasthan|
|Kalbelia||Performed by kalbeli women of rajasthan. In 2011 it was added to UNESCO list of intangible heritage items.|
|Charba||Popular folk dance of himachal pradesh|
|Bhangra||Highly energetic folk dance of punjab.|
|Raslila||Popular folk dance of Uttar pradesh|
|Dadra||Semi classical form of dance popular in Uttar pradesh|
|Jawara||Harvest dance popular in bundelkhand region of Madhya pradesh|
|Rangma / Bamboo dance||War dance of Nagas|
|Bihu||Popular folk dance of Assam|
|Gaur Maria||Important ritualistic dance form of Bison horn maria tribes|
|Thang Ta||Martial dance in manipur.|
It has been postulated that the excavated ruins at Sitabena and Jogimara caves represent the world's oldest amphitheatres.
In India, plays or nataka were or two types :
Lokadharmi :Realistic depictions of daily life.
Natyadharmi :Conventional plays with a more stylised narration and overt symbolism
Sariputraprakaran by Ashvaghosh is the first Sanskrit play. Sudraka and Bhasa were other important playrights. Famous plays and their playrights are listed below :
Kalidasa :Malavikagnimitra, Vikramorvashi, Shakuntalam
Bhavabhuti : Uttaramacharitra, Mahaviracharitra
Visakhaduta : Mudrarakshasa
Harshavardhan : Ratnavali
Sudraka : Mricchakatika
Conventions of a Sanskrit Theatre
Four to Seven act play. Happy endings are the norm and tragedies are rarely portrayed.
Protagonist is male who achieves his object at the end of the play.
The play has well defined progression, opening, development, pause and conclusion.
Play has a number of pre-play rituals known as Purva raga which are performed behind the curtains.
Sutradhar (narrator) enters the play stage and offers prayer to the deity. He also introduces the playright and announces the time and place of the play.
The leading lady of the play is summoned after this.
Curtains are used to intensify the impact of the play. Masks are not used in the play.
The stages are two storeyed and lower storey gives the terrestrial sphere and upper storey gives the celestial sphere.
Sanskrit dramatists started gaining interest towards poetry and so lyrical writings started becoming popular over plays.
Rigid orthodoxy of the sanskrit theatre forced playrights to turn towards other forms of art and expression.
Sanskrit became a language of the elite and lost popularity with the masses. It became confined to the brahmins. Pali and Prakrit gained popularity.
With the advent of Muslim rulers dance and music gained popularity and theatre became backstaged.
India's oldest continuing form of theatre which has been surviving since 10th Century A.D. in Kerela.
It completely adheres to the rules laid down in the Natya shashtra and is the traditional privilege of the Chakyar and Nambiar castes of Kerela.
The characters begin the play with Nirvahan (recollection of past events). After this the story evolves and has social, political, philosophical behavior.
Margi Madhu Chakyar is a leading exponent of this form.
While the Sanskrit theatre was more urban oriented and sophisticated in its treatment of the play, the rural roots and rustic nature was reflected in the Folk Theatre.
The traditional folk theatre reflects the various aspects of local lifestyle including social norms, beliefs and lifestyle.
Indian folk theatre has the following categories :
During bhakti movement, folk theatre became a popular means of communicating faith to god both as a practitioner as well as a performer / audience.
Ankia Nat : Traditional One Act play of Assam. It was started by Vaishnav saint Shankardeva. It is performe in the style of an opera and depicts the life of Krishna. The Sutradhar is accompanied by a group of musicians known as Gayan Bayan Mandali who play "Dhol" and "Cymbals". Masks are used in the theatres to depicts special expressions.
Kala : Ancient folk theatre of the Vaishnavite sect. Plays are around the life of Vishnu.
Ramlila : It is performed around Uttar Pradesh. The actors are males who perform female roles too. Plays are before dussera and are about Ramayan.
Raslila : Enactment of the dance drama adolescent love between Krishna and Radha. Popular in Gujarat.
Stories were more secular in their narrationa and story telling. The focus was more on love, valor and social traditions. The purpose was entertainment of the masses.
Bhavai : Popular in region of Gujarat and Rajasthan. This form narrates a series of small plays each with its own plot. Themes are romantic.
Daskathia : Form of folk theatre more popular in Odia. It has two main characters Gayaka (Chief singer) and Palia (Narrator). The play is accompanied by semi classical music played by a wooden instrument named "kathia"
Garodas : Popular art form of the garoda community of gujarat. It uses painted pictures to narrate stories of romance and valor.
Jatra : Popular art form in Eastern India. It is an open air performance initiated by saint Sri Chaitanya.
Kariyila : Open air theatre popular in Himachal Pradesh. Performance occurs at night and is comprising of a series of small plays and skits.
Maanch : Folk theatre of malwa in Madhya pradesh. The unique features of this play are dialogues delivered in the form of couplets or "Rangat Doha".
Nautanki : Popular in North India, this art form is mentioned in Abul Fazls Ain-e-Akbari. The plays are themed around social and folk tales and are delivered through dance and music.
Oja Pali : Unique narrative theatre of Assam. It is associated with festival of the serpent goddess.
Powada : Operatic ballads sung by folk musicians known as Gondhalis or shahirs. They depict stories of valor. Popular in Maharashtra.
Tamasha : Folk theatre popular in Maharashtra known for its humor and erotic content. The unique feature of this theatre is presence of female actors who play even male roles. Tamasha performances are accompanied by Lavani songs.
Speciality of this theatre is the emphasis on dance as opposed to emphasis on music in North India.
Yakshagana : Oldest theatre traditions which is till date prevalent in regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Originated in Vijaynagar empire and is performed by a community named Jakkula Varu.
Burra Katha : A popular dance drama tradition of Andhra pradesh. Burra - a percussion instrument is used extensively during the performance.
Pagati veshalu : Role playing act revolving around a principal character named vesham and other sub characters. Popular in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Bayalata : Open air theatre tradition in Karnataka. The stories are based on the love of Radha Krishna.
Tal Maddale : Tal is a kind of cymbal and maddale is a drum. It is considered as a predecessor of Yakshagana.
Theyyam : Ritualistic bhuta theatres of karnataka.
Krishna attam : Colorful dance drama traditions of karnataka.
Kuruvanji : It is a dance ballet form. It is characerised by classic tamil poetry and songs.