Beware, it’s male-dominated! | Daily News

Beware, it’s male-dominated!

Ancient classical Indian dances

The role of males in Indian classical dance forms is immeasurable. In many Indian classical dance forms, like Kuchipudi, Odissi, and Bhagavata Mela, were only performed by the male dancers in ancient times. In the later years, the females started participating in some of the classical dance forms, except Bhagavata Mela and Kathakali,

Kuchipudi is a classical dance form of Telugu Desha, based on drama. Earlier, the male dancers dressed, as female dancers, but later females started playing important roles in Kuchipudi. Today Kuchipudi is the classical dance form of Andhra Pradesh, and female dancers are the main participants.

Oral conversation

The Bhagavata Mela is another Indian classical dance form which has close links with Kuchipudi. Like Kuchipudi this is also a drama based dance, that’s why it is considered as a dance drama. As in Kuchipudi, oral conversation, take place, between the dancers and the musicians. Bhagavata Mela dance drama is still preserved and practised by only the males. The special feature of Bhagavata Mela is only preserved and practised by the male Brahmin community. But Bhagavata Mela dance drama had laid down a firm foundation for the development of dance drama, in Bharatha Natyam.

Besides these, in Odissi dance, it has its origin from Orissa state. Earlier Odissi dancers were males. They were called Gotipuas. These male dancers dressed as females while they danced. It is essentially a temple dance. Even today many of the Odissi dance teachers are Gotipuas of yesteryears. The music of Odissi is a fusion of Carnatic music and Hindustani music. Traditionally Gotipuas were dancing on two important occasions. One was Chandra Jatra, and other was Jhoolan Jatra. Initially, this dance form originated and was based on Vaishnava cult. And later it was also cherished and adopted in Saivaism. In olden days they adorned themselves with many ornaments, but today they sparingly use limited and necessary ornaments.

Another Indian classical dance form is Kathak. It is a popular classical dance form of North India. Here in this classical dance form, the male dancers play an equal role with female dancers. Even in teaching Kathak, the role of the males is equally important. The male Kathak dancers wear simple costumes.

They wear long pyjamas and specially designed tops. They don’t wear many ornaments, and they do not have any hairdressing.

Classical form

Kathakali is another Indian classical dance form based on Hinduism. Even the female characters are danced by the male dancers, and still, males play a major role in this classical dance form. Originally this was danced by the males alone. These male dancers were called Chakaiyer. The music is totally based on Carnatic music. The dance themes are generally based on various epics and puranic and ithikasa stories. Kathakali dance form uses heavy makeup and uses different masks appropriate to the character portrayed.

Kireedam or the crown is worn by the dancers along with the side face masks. The ornaments are placed and tied to the dresses.

Another Indian classical dance form is Manipuri. The male dancers play equally important roles with the female dancers. The male Manipuri dancers generally carry a different variety and different shape of drums, while they dance. Sometimes while they perform they carry large cymbals (which are called Kartaal) and dance.

The male Manipuri dancers generally wear white dhotis, and many of times they do wear white colour turbans. This is the special and distinct feature of the Manipuri male dancers as compared to the male dancers of other Indian classical dances. They hardly wear any ornaments. They do not even wear the ankle bells.

India’s most popular classical dance form is Bharatha Natyam. The Bharatha Natyam is evolved out of Sathir. In ancient days, lots of male dancers danced, Sathir in temples.

They were called by various names, like Chakai Maraiyan, Poonan, Santhi Koothan, Kootha Peeraiyan, Nattuva Aasan, and Araiyer. High awards were awarded to these outstanding male dancers in olden days. For instance, ‘Nattuva Kulothunga Chola Nirtha Peraiyan’, ‘Thiruvorai Chakai Mummdi Chola Nirutha Peeraiyan’ was some of the titles conferred on the outstanding performers. Still, there are a number of outstanding male dancers and numerous outstanding dance teachers, choreographers. Some of them still belong to the traditional Nattuvanar clan.

Dominant figure

In all the Indian classical dance forms, the males play important roles with female dancers. The contribution of males for the development of certain classical dance forms is more than that of the females. Kuchipudi and Odissi originally were danced by males alone. Bhagavata Mela is still wholly performed by the male performers. In Kathakali, the male dancers are the main dancers. Females are not traditionally supposed to perform in Kathakali.

The male dancers play important role in Kathak and Manipuri with female dancers.

In Bharata Natyam, the most outstanding gurus are the males and there are a very few outstanding male performers in the present practical field.



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