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Gotipuas are young boys of tender age. They dress-up as girls and sing Vaisnab devotional love songs of RadhaKrishna and perform Gotipua dance.The present
classical Odishi dance evolves from this centuries-old traditional dance form.

Most of the eminent Odishi Gurus in their adolescence performed as Gotipuas. Earlier Gotipuas used to perform whole night inspecial festive occasions, celebrating the myth of Radha-Krishna love, such as Dola Utsav or Spring Festival, Chandan Yatra, the Swing Festival in Rain, at various monasteries and temples.

Usually a single Gotipua had to dance alone in the occasion. It was not a group dance. They were sponsored and promoted by different gymnasiums of the puri town or by the feudal lords in the remote rural areas of Orissa. These days it is a privilege to commission the Gotipua dance in the festive occasions.

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Garba, the leading dance of women in Gujarat, is associated with the fertility cult. For the nine nights of Navaratri, during an autumn festival, woman come out into the open and with perforated earthen pots holding lighted lambs poised on the head sing, clap and dance a simple, circular dance, in honour of the goddess Amba.

At times men too dance, by singing and clapping and the dance is known as Garbi. Traditionally the Garba is intended to be danced only at night and as a votive offering. In an evolved version,the dance can be performed for its own sake and at any time.


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The most popular instinctive dance of men in Punjab, Bhangra , if not the most robust, is one of India's popular folk dances. This dance is performed during the Baisakhi festival to the accompaniments and songs of Dholak. The dancers snap their fingers, do balancing tricks and indulge in acrobatic feats.

They recite witty couplets known as bolis and out of sheer exuberance mouth meaningless sounds such as hoay, hoay. The dancers are dressed in lungis and turbans. The drummer usually takes his place in the centre of the circle. The counterpart of the Bhangra is the Gidha, danced by womanfolk.

The dance is a group number, but often individual dancers or pairs detach themselves from the group and perform while the rest keep clapping in rhythm. In this as in the Hikat of Kashmir, pairs of dancers go round and round with the feet planted at one place. The festival of Teeyan, to welcome the rains is the principal time for the Gidha.

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Theyyam is one of the most outstanding folk arts of Kerala and has its origin in the northern parts of the state. Also called Thirayattam, (because every thira or village performed this ritualistic art at the village temple) this primitive ritualisic art demands long hours preparation before the performance.

TheTheyyam (a form or shape) represents a mythological, divine or heroic character. There are over 350 Theyysma in Northen Kerala. The hood, headdress, face painting, breast plate, bracelets, garlands and fabric of attire of each of these Theyyams are distinct and meticulously crafted according to the character presented.

Musical accomaniments are Chenda and Veekuchenda (drums), Elathalam and Kuzhal (horn). This art form is mostly performed in Bhagavathy temples. Performances are on between october and May. Thira is the main subdivision of Theyyam.

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Bihu Dance

Bihu is the most widespread folk dance of Assam and is enjoyed by all, young, old, rich and poor. The dance is part of the Bihu Festival that comes in mid-April when harvesting is done, and continues for about a month.

The participants are young men and girls, who gather in the open in daytime. They dance together, but there is no mixing of the sexes. The dance is supported by drums and pipes. In between, the performers sometimes sing usually of love songs.

The most common formation is the circle or parallel rows. The Bihu demonstrates, through song and dance, the soul of the Assamese at its richest.

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Padayani or Padeni in colloquial speech, is one of the most colourful and spectacular folk arts associated with the festivals of certain temples in southern Kerala (Aleppy, Quilon, Pathanamthitta, and Kottayam districts).

The word Padayani literally means military formations or rows of army, but in this folk art we have mainly a series of divine and semi-divine impersonations wearing huge masks or kolams of different shapes, colours and designs painted on the stalks of arecanut fronds. The most important of the kolams usually presented in a Padayani performance are Bhairavi (Kali), Kalan (god of death), Yakshi (fairy), Pakshi (bird) etc.

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Chhau Dance

Chhau dance is indigenous to the eastern part of India. It is originated as a martial art and contains vigourous movements and leaps. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many of the princely rulers of the Orissa region took a keen interest in the development of this art. They maintained troupes that performed on special occasions and festivals.Some Chhau dances use large stylized masks.

The depiction of birds and animals is a distinctive feature. There are also heroic dances with sword, bow or shield, with which dancers demonstrate their dexterity. In keeping with the martial origins of Chhau, some of the themes include the depiction of mythological heroes, such as Parashurama, Mahadev, Indrajit and others, from the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics.

Over the course of time, female characters and more diverse themes were added. There are three recognized schools or styles of Chhau. These are the Seraikella, Purulia and Mayurbhanj varieties. Mayurbhanj Chhau dancers do not wear masks. In recent times, Mayurbhanj Chhau has become popular as a medium of choreography, with its wide range of postures and movements that adapt well to modern as well as traditional treatment.

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Dollu Kunita Dance

Karnataka region has tribes who are predominantly hunter. The ritual dances revolving around worship of Lord Subramanya are called Kavadis. The state has an immense treasure house of other ritualistic dances, all denoted by the generic term Kunitha.

In Puja Kunitha, there is a wooden structure with a deity on the head; Devare Thatte Kunitha, Yell-ammana Kunitha, Suggikunitha and others, each taking its name from the deity or the symbol or instrument which is balanced on the head, or held in the hand.

The Dollu Kunitha is a popular drum dance of Karnataka. The men have large drums, decorated with coloured cloth, slung from their necks, and they beat the drums as they dance with nimble movements of the feet and legs. The dance is at times accompanied by songs, which are either religious or in praise of war.

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Ghoomar / Loor-Lahoor / Khoria Dance

Ghoomar is a dance performed by girls on various occasions and festivals like Holi, Gangore Puja and Teej. In this dance, the dancers form semi-circle to start with singing and clapping and then gradually forming circle, the tempo of dance accelerates.

Loor-Lahoor Dance: The Loor also danced only by women, is popular in the area of 'Bagar' of Haryana. The dancers form two teams and the song is generally in the form of question and answers.

Khoria Dance: Similiar to Lahoor and Ghoomar dances, Khoria dance is performed exclusively by women dancers on the occasion of weddings and festivals.

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Gendi Dance of Madhya Pradesh

A dance on stilts noted for balancing and clever footwork performed by young male dancers wearing belts studded with cowerie shells in water or marshy surface.

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Karma Dance of Madhya Pradesh

This traditional dance gets its name from Karma tree which stands for fortune and good luck. The dance begins with planting the tree and circular formations are formed around the tree.

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Shaila / Baiga Pardhauni Dance of Madhya Pradesh

Shaila dance is popular amongst the Gonds and Baiga tribes of the Dindori district in Madhya Pradesh, which includes the stick performance. It reminds us of the days when the warrior bands of the tribe used to live on the hills and were called upon to defend themselves against enemies.

Baiga Pardhauni Dance: This dance is popular amongst the Baiga tribe, performed to welcome the wedding procession. In different guises of horse, bulls, and peacocks, men perform this dance.

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Gaur Maria Dance of Madhya Pradesh

Gaur dance is one of the important dances of Bison Horn Marias of Abhujmaria plateau of Bastar in Madhya Pradesh, which is basically performed on the occasion of marriages.

This picturesque and vigorous dance of joy and invocation, is called Gaur after Bison and on surface it may appear to be a hunt-dance with only the imitation of the frisking, jerking movements of the animals.

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Dogri Dance of Kashmir

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