|Indian classical dance is a relatively new umbrella term for
various codified art forms rooted in Natya, the sacred Hindu musical
theatre styles, whose theory can be traced
back to the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni (400 BC).
* Dances performed inside the sanctum of the temple according to the rituals were called Agama Nartanam. Natya Shastra classifies this type of dance form as margi, or the soul-liberating dance, unlike the desi (purely entertaining) forms.
* Dances performed in royal courts to the accompaniment of classical music were called Carnatakam. This was an intellectual art form. * Darbari Aattam form
For lack of any better equivalents in the European culture, the British colonial authorities called any performing art forms found in India as "Indian dance". Even though the art of Natya includes nritta, or dance proper, Natya has never been limited to dancing and includes singing, abhinaya (mime acting). These features are common to all the Indian classical styles. In the margi form Nritta is composed of karanas, while the desi nritta consists mainly of adavus.
The term "classical" (Sanscr. "Shastriya") was introduced by Sangeet Natak Akademi to denote the Natya Shastra-based performing art styles. A very important feature of Indian classical dances is the use of the mudra or hand gestures by the artists as a short-hand sign language to narrate a story and to demonstrate certain concepts such as objects, weather, nature and emotion. Many classical dances include facial expressions as an integral part of the dance form.
Eight classical dances
Sangeet Natak Akademi currently confers classical status on eight Indian dance styles