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Lavani- The Pride of Maharashtra

  Lavani is one of the most dynamic, robust, sensual and popular folk dances of the Indian state of Maharashtra as well as the surrounding areas in Konkan or coastal region of India. It is a combination of song and dance. The most common themes of this folk dance are feelings like heroism, love, sorrow, devotion and different aspects of social life such as religion, politics etc. Maharashtra was once a battle torn state and lavani dance served as a morale booster and a mode of entertainment to weary soldiers during the 18 th and 19 th centuries. This dance form reached the peaks of popularity during the rule of the Peshwa Dynasty that was seated in Pune, during which Lavani was given support by the ruling elite. This folk dance was originally performed by ‘Dhangars’ or shepherds living in the Sholapur district of Maharashtra. They were inspired by nature and the dance form contains tales of the birth of their deity. Lavani has come a long way since then and has been adopted as an i

A Dance with Bamboo-- from the Land of Mizos

On the occasion of International Dance Day, I would like to share with you one of the mesmerizing yet lesser known folk dances of India- Cheraw. Cheraw is one of the oldest bamboo dances of the north eastern state of Mizoram in India. This dance is believed to be originated as early as the 1 st century AD in the Yunan province of China. During the 13 th century AD the mongoloids of Mizoram migrated to the Chin Hills and finally settled in the present state of Mizoram. They brought this dance along with their other cultural traditions. In ancient times, this dance was performed in rituals as believed to bring solace to the soul of a mother, who had died over child birth and left her new born baby. But now the Cheraw has become an integral part of almost every auspicious occasion such as festivals, marriages etc in Mizoram. This beautiful and elegant dance form involves about six to eight people holding pairs of bamboo staves on another horizontally placed bamboo on the ground. The

Kathak and Flamenco – A story of separated sisters

As a classical dancer I am always keen to read about different types of dances. Recently, I read about Flamenco and found many interesting facts about this dance form which I thought to share with you all. Flamenco is a highly expressive Spanish dance form.   It is associated with Andalusian Roma [gypsies]. These nomads are supposed to have travelled from Rajasthan (a State in India) through Romania, Hungary and Central Europe and finally landed in Andalusia. In Spain they encountered the rich cultures of the Sephardic Jews and the Moors. Their centuries long cultural intermingling produced the unique art form known as Flamenco. Flamenco dance is made up of four elements. They are: ‘Cante’-voice, ‘Baile’-dance, ‘Toque’-guitar and ‘Jaleo’-which roughly translated means ‘hell-raising’ and involves the handclapping, foot stomping and shouts of encouragement. Flamenco dancers, known as “Bailaores” [male] and “Bailaoras” [female], are passionate and serious. Typically in Fl