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List of Indian Dances – Classical & Folk Dances of India & Its States

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Indian Dance Forms: Dance is the art of expressing your heart on your face by body movements in rhythm with music or any soulful sound. It exists in the world right from the beginning of the human race and has taken different forms and names over a prolonged period. Dance is often considered a way of celebration, expressing joy and happiness of the mind and soul. Some do it as art, some as passion, and some as a recreation; whatever the reason, the truth behind the dance is it brings out the child in everyone.


Indian Dances

Indian Dances has diverse forms, like the country’s cultural diversity. Every region or state of India has its unique dance forms reflecting its history, traditions, and spiritual beliefs. Indian dance forms, being the ancient ones, originated several centuries before; they are still practiced and loved with the same passion by people all over the world.

This article will provide a brief overview of the various Indian dance forms, both Folk dances and Classical dances, as they are an important aspect of the art and culture syllabus for the UPSC exam.

List of Different Dances Forms in India – State Wise

As you travel along India, you can see diversity in its geography, people, culture, traditions, language, music, and, obviously, dance. From the graceful expressions of Bharathanatyam in Tamil Nadu to the vibrant movements of Garba in Gujarat, Indian dance forms spread across its different states are a magical reflection of India’s rich heritage.

Here we give a list of Indian dance forms with states to enlighten you on the diversity and richness of art and culture of the country.


Dance Form

Andhra Pradesh





Garba, Dandiya Raas


Chhathi Dance, Phag Dance








Ghoomar, Kalbelia


Sikkimese Dance


Bhangra, Giddha

Madhya Pradesh

Matki Dance






Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Thirayattam



Tamil Nadu


Arunachal Pradesh



Bihu Sattriya


Jat-Jatin Jhumarnach


Chang Lo

Uttar Pradesh

Kathak, Rasa Lila


Langvir Nritya

Himachal Pradesh


Jammu and Kashmir

Rouff, Hikat


Nongkrem Dance




Perini Shivatandavam



The above list of Indian dance forms and states is only a fraction of India’s practised dance forms. Nevertheless, the Indian dance forms can be grouped into Classical and Folk categories.

The 2 major dance forms in India are:

  • Folk Dance
  • Classical Dance

The major difference between Classical and Folk dance is the origin.

  • Classical dance has a deep-rooted relationship with the Natya Shastra where the specific features of each of the Classical dance forms have been mentioned.
  • Folk dance, on the other hand, emerged from the local tradition of the respective state, ethnic or geographic regions.

Let us probe into the two categories of Indian dance forms with their importance and features.

Folk Dances in India

Folk dances are an integral part of Indian culture. They are a way for people to express themselves, to celebrate their culture, and to connect with their community. There are many different types of folk dances in India, each with its own unique history and style.

Some of the most popular folk dances in India include:

Here are some of the most popular folk dances in India which are as follows –

Folk DanceRegionDescription
BhangraPunjabEnergetic dance performed during harvest festivals, characterized by lively movements and clapping.
GarbaGujaratGraceful dance performed in circular formations during Navratri, often using decorated sticks.
KathakaliKeralaClassical dance-drama from Kerala, showcasing mythological stories through facial expressions and gestures.
BihuAssamSet of three lively folk dances celebrated during harvest festivals, known for vibrant costumes.
Dandiya RaasGujarat, RajasthanEnergetic dance with sticks, performed during Navratri to celebrate victory of good over evil.
LavaniMaharashtraSensuous dance with rhythmic movements, often accompanied by traditional folk songs.
GhoomarRajasthanTraditional Rajasthani dance with graceful twirling movements, usually performed by women.
ChhauWest Bengal, Odisha, JharkhandMartial dance with dance, mime, and acrobatics elements, performed in various styles.
YakshaganaKarnatakaElaborate dance drama depicting mythological tales, with vibrant costumes and makeup.
RouffKashmirDelicate folk dance performed by women during weddings and festive occasions.

In addition to the dances mentioned above, there are many other folk dances from all over India. Each dance has its own unique history, style, and meaning. Folk dances are a valuable part of Indian culture and they continue to be performed today. They are a way for people to connect with their roots and to celebrate their heritage.

Also, check: Popular Folk Dances Of India

List of Folks Dances in India – State Wise

Here is a list of folk dances in India according to the states:

StateFolk Dances
Andhra PradeshKuchipudi, Vilasini Natyam, Lambadi
Arunachal PradeshBuiya, Popir
AssamBihu, Sattriya, Ojapali
BiharJat-Jatin, Jhumarnach
ChhattisgarhPanthi, Raut Nacha
GoaDekhni, Fugdi
GujaratGarba, Dandiya Raas
HaryanaSaang, Phag
Himachal PradeshNati, Kullu Naati
Jammu and KashmirRouff, Hafiza
JharkhandChhau, Mundari
KarnatakaYakshagana, Dollu Kunitha
KeralaKathakali, Mohiniyattam
Madhya PradeshGaur Maria, Matki
MaharashtraLavani, Tamasha
MizoramCheraw, Khuallam
NagalandChang Lo, Sekrenyi
OdishaGotipua, Dalkhai
PunjabBhangra, Giddha
RajasthanGhoomar, Kalbelia
SikkimSinghi Chham
Tamil NaduBharatanatyam, Karagattam
TelanganaPerini Shivatandavam, Gobbi
TripuraLebang Boomani
Uttar PradeshRaslila, Charkula
UttarakhandLangvir Nritya, Barada Nati
West BengalBaul, Gambhira

Classical Dances of Indian States

Classical dances in India are the traditional Indian dance forms that originated in 200 BCE and are closely associated with people’s spiritual life. It is believed that the art of classical dances in India has its roots in Natyasastra, written by the ancient Indian Sage Bharata, also called Bharata Muni.

In the good olden days, classical Indian dance forms are performed to convey spiritual tales to people during festivals and celebrations. They also did it as a dedication to their God/Goddess. With graceful hand gestures, complex footwork, eloquent facial expressions and rich, attractive costumes, the classical Indian dance forms serve elegance and emotion in a single spoon.

Today, in this modern world, these traditional Indian dance forms are still performed with the same aesthetics carrying the essence of the art combined with new contemporary emotions.

Some of the most popular classical dances in India include:

Though every state of India practices several classical dances, the Indian Ministry of Culture and the Sangeet Natak Akademi have recognised only Nine Indian dance forms, which are:

Classical Dance FormOriginDescription
BharatanatyamTamil NaduOne of India’s prominent classical dance forms, originating in Tamil Nadu. Known for its intricate forms and expressions. It’s recognized as the mother of many other Indian classical dance forms.
KathakUttar PradeshA classical dance form from Uttar Pradesh. Originated with traveling bards known as Kathakars or storytellers.
KathakaliKeralaA classical dance form from Kerala with deep-rooted traditions. Evolved from Ramanattam and incorporates techniques from major ritual art forms.
KuchipudiAndhra PradeshA dance-drama performance art originating in Andhra Pradesh. Rooted in Hindu Sanskrit texts and connected to temples and spirituality.
ManipuriManipurOriginating in Manipur, this dance form is associated with rituals and festivals. Has references to dances of deities like Shiva and Parvati.
MohiniyattamKeralaA semi-classical dance form from Kerala, performed by women in honor of the Hindu god Vishnu as Mohini.
OdissiOdishaA dance-drama genre with spiritual and devotional themes, from Odisha. Known for its symbolic costumes and body movements.
SattriyaAssamA devotional dance form to honor Lord Krishna. Features unique movements, instruments, and costumes.
ChhauOdisha, Jharkhand, West BengalFound in Eastern India, Chhau is a dance form not recognized by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. It preserves tradition with energetic movements.

List of Classical Dances in India – State Wise

Here is a list of classical dances in India according to the states:


Dance Form


Tamil Nadu


The art form of Bharatanatyam is a captivating dancing style that combines elegant hand motions, rhythmic footwork, and expressive facial expressions to tell ancient stories.

Uttar Pradesh


It is a north Indian dance form with spins and complex footwork conveying stories of ancient culture.



With elaborate costumes and make-up, this South Indian dance form conveys powerful emotions.

Andhra Pradesh


This Indian dance form is a fusion of drama and fast-paced rhythmic movements.



This dance form has gentle footwork and soft expressions to celebrate the culture of Manipur.



With soft movements and expressions, this dance form gives importance to lyrical stories.



Odissi dance form celebrates womanhood with elegant postures and mudras representing the Hindu mythology.



This dance form is a devotional performance to Lord Krishna. It gives importance to unique movements, musical instruments and costumes.

Eastern India


Eastern India (Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal) – Not recognised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, this Indian dance form preserves the tradition with energetic movements.

Classical Indian dance forms are a popular topic of examination in the UPSC prelims exam.

Indian Dance Forms of India – FAQs

1. How many dance forms are there in India?

India is rich in cultural diversity, and as a result, it boasts a wide variety of traditional and classical dance forms. There are approximately 8 major classical dance forms recognized in India, which are:

  • Bharatanatyam
  • Kathak
  • Kathakali
  • Odissi
  • Manipuri
  • Kuchipudi
  • Mohiniyattam
  • Sattriya

Apart from these classical dance forms, there are numerous folk and tribal dances practiced across different regions of India.

2. Which dance is famous in India?

Bharatanatyam is one of the most famous and widely recognized classical dance forms in India. It originated in the state of Tamil Nadu and is known for its intricate footwork, expressive hand gestures, and elaborate facial expressions. Bharatanatyam is often performed on themes from mythology and has gained international recognition for its grace and elegance.

3. Which is the hardest dance in India?

The perception of the “hardest” dance form can vary from person to person, as different dance forms require different skill sets and techniques. However, Kathakali is often considered one of the most physically demanding classical dance forms in India. Originating in Kerala, Kathakali involves intricate facial makeup, elaborate costumes, and highly stylized movements that require significant strength, flexibility, and training.

4. Which is the oldest dance form?

Bharatnatyam is the oldest dance form in India.

5. Which is the recently added dance form in the classical dance list of India?

The Cultural Ministry of India has included Chhau in the list of classical dances that makes a total of 9 classical dance forms.

6. In how many categories Indian Dance Forms are classified?

 In India, dance forms can be broadly classified into 2 categories– classical and folk dance form. These dance forms have been originated from different parts of India as per the local tradition.

7.  Is Kathak and Kathakali the same form of dance?

 Kathakali is different from a similar-sounding Kathak, though both are Indian classical dance traditions of “story play” wherein the stories have been traditionally derived from the Hindu epics and the Puranas.

8. What is the difference between Kathak and Bharatanatyam?

The main difference between Kathak and Bharatnatyam is that Bharatnatyam is a South Indian dance tradition that originated around the state of Tamil Nadu, whereas Kathak is a Northern Indian dance tradition that was initially developed in Hindu temples. Kathak and Bharatnatyam are two classical dance forms of India.

9.  What is the dance of Gujarat?

Garba is a form of dance, as well as a religious and social event that originates in Gujarat, India. Garba is a community circle dance from the northwestern Indian state of Gujarat. The word “garba” is also used to refer to the event at which the garba is performed.

10. What is the dance of Maharashtra?

Lavani is a genre of music popular in Maharashtra, India. Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which particularly performed to the beats of Dholki, a percussion instrument.

11.  What is Karagattam?

Karagattam is an ancient folk dance of Tamil Nadu which is performed while worshipping the Goddess of rain.

Last Updated : 24 Aug, 2023
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