Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The history of dance may be as long as the history of humankind. We can only guess how dances looked in earlier epochs. An early manuscript describing dance is the Natya Shastra on which the modern interpretation classical Indian dance (e.g. Bharathanatyam) is based on. The ancient chronicle, the Sinhalese (Sri Lankans), the Mahavamsa states when King Vijaya landed in Sri Lanka in 543 BCE he heard sounds of music and dancing from a wedding ceremony. Origins of The Dances of Sri Lanka are dated back to the aborginal tribes. The Classical dances of Sri Lanka, Kandyan Dances features a highly developed system of tala (rhythm), provided by cymbals called thalampataa. In European culture, one of the earliest records of dancing is by Homer, whose "Iliad"; describes chorea (khoreia). The early Greeks made the art of dancing into a system, expressive of all the different passions. For example, the dance of the Furies, so represented, would create complete terror among those who witnessed them. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, ranked dancing with poetry, and said that certain dancers, with rhythm applied to gesture, could express manners, passions, and actions. The most eminent Greek sculptors studied the attitude of the dancers for their art of imitating the passions. Rock-shelter drawings in India reveal the earliest examples of dance. Figure E-19 at the Bhim-Betka rock-shelters, drawing of 'urddhakeshin' Shiva at Nawda Todo, forms of monkeys at Gupteshvara and a number of human figures at Pahadgarh, Tikla and Abachand present evidence of dance being prevalent in those days. These drawings belong to the period from 5000 to 2000 B. C. As revealed by the stone statuette of a male dancer from Harappa and the bronze figurine of a dancing girl from Mohenjodaro, the Indus Valley civilization had a well-evolved dance culture.

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