There are numerous forms of dances, most of which are classified as classical or folk. Different styles of Indian dances originated according to local customs in different parts of India, and included elements from other sections of the country, just as other aspects of Indian culture.
According to the Sangeet Natya Academy, India’s national academy for performing arts, more than eight ancient dances are recognized as Indian classical dances by several sources and researchers. The holy performance arts of Hinduism, as well as the Sanskrit scripture Natya Shastra, are the source of this.
Folk dances come in a range of styles and numbers, based on the state’s, ethnic group’s, or geographic location’s local heritage. Contemporary dances are polished and experimental fusions of classical, folk, and Western traditions.
India’s dancing traditions have affected not only South Asian dances in general but also Southeast Asian dances. Bollywood Dance for Hindi films, for example, is noted for its freeform expression of dance and has a major presence in Indian popular culture.
Dance can be traced back to prehistoric times in India. Dance scenes can be seen among the earliest paleolithic and neolithic cave paintings, such as those found at the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh, which are a UNESCO world heritage site. Dance figures have been discovered on many sculptures from the Indus Valley Civilization, which are currently scattered over Pakistan and India. For example, the Dancing Girl sculpture dates from roughly 2500 BCE.
The Vedas integrate rituals with other forms of performance art, such as a theatrical play in which not only were praised to gods spoken or sung but also talks were part of a dramatic depiction and debate of spiritual topics.
The Sanskrit lyrics in Shatapatha Brahmana chapter 13.2 are written in the style of, say, a drama with two actors.
The first dance-related literature is the Natasutras, which are mentioned in the work of Panini, the sage who wrote the classic on Sanskrit grammar and is dated to around 500 BCE. Other late Vedic manuscripts, as well as two academics named Shilalin and Krishashva, who are considered pioneers in the study of ancient theatre and singing, acknowledge this performing arts-related Sutra work.