Using the body as a medium of communication, the expression of dance is perhaps the most intricate and developed, yet easily understood art form. Dance in India has seeped into several other realms like poetry, sculpture, architecture, literature, music and theatre. The earliest archaeological evidence is a beautiful statuette of a dancing girl, dated around 6000 B.C. Bharata's Natya Shastra (believed to be penned between second century B.C. and second century A.D.) is the earliest available treatise on dramaturgy. All forms of Indian classical dances owe allegiance to Natya Shastra, regarded as the fifth Veda.
It is said that Brahma, the Creator, created Natya, taking literature from the Rig Veda, song from the Sama Veda, abhinaya or expression from the Yajur Veda and rasa or aesthetic experience from the Atharvana Veda. It also contains deliberations on the different kind of postures, the mudras or hand formations and their meanings, the kind of emotions and their categorisation, not to mention the kind of attire, the stage, the ornaments and even the audience. All dance forms are thus structured around the nine rasas or emotions, hasya (happiness), krodha (anger), bhibasta (disgust), bhaya (fear), shoka (sorrow), viram (courage), karuna (compassion), adbhuta (wonder) and shanta (serenity). All dance forms follow the same hand gestures or hasta mudras for each of these rasas. The dances differ where the local genius has adapted it to local demands and needs.
Classical Dance Forms of India :
India offers a number of classical dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the country. Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people.
Bharatnatyam - Tamil Nadu
Kathak - Uttar Pradesh
Kathakali - Kerala
Kuchipudi - Andhra Pradesh
Manipuri - Manipur
Mohiniyattam - Kerala
Odissi - Orissa