Local Dance Traditions of India
Asia Destinations

Local Dance Traditions of India

Learn About the Local Dance Traditions of India

During a visit to India, you’ll notice the different dance traditions from region to region. What are the differences between them and where do they stem from? Here’s Enchanting Travels’ lowdown.

Classical dance was first documented in about 400 BC when the ancient Indian text, the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni, detailed all the performing arts of India.

Dance Traditions India

The Natya Shastra broke India’s performing arts into three categories:

  1. Desi: For entertainment and celebratory purposes
  2. Margi: For spiritual purposes, usually as part of temple rituals
  3. Carnatakam: For intellectual purposes i.e. during royal courts


Most of Indian classical dance is Margi, whereas India’s folk dances tend to fit better within the Desi category.

You will notice that Indian dance goes beyond the feet and provides much more. For example, ‘Mudra’ is the technique of using miming hand gestures and facial expressions to narrate a story.

Classical Indian Dance Traditions

Here’s a list of popular Indian dance traditions:


1. Bharatnatyam: Believed to be about 2,000 years old, this is one of the most popular classical Indian dance traditions, stemming from Tamil Nadu.


2. Kathak: Originally a court dance, this is very much focused on storytelling and requires a lot of detailed footwork and spins. It’s one of the most popular art forms found across Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

rajasthan dance india

3. Kuchipudi: Taking its inspiration from Hindu Epics, this art form is found in Andhra Pradesh and uses speech and lip movement.


4. Kathakali: Translated as “story-play”, this is the performing arts of the state of Kerala. The focus is on considered, exaggerated facial expressions with bright, colorful masks or heavy make-up.

Our Top Travel Tip:

Worthy of a visit is The Kalakshetra Dance School, 10 km from Chennai. The school focuses on Bharatanatyam, Carnatic vocal and instrumental music, the visual arts, traditional crafts and textile design and you can observe professional dancers and musicians.


Ask your Enchanting Travels Consultant today to include an authentic dance performance or dance lesson in your itinerary.

Bradley Yandell, Enchanting Travels, February 28, 2017

Enchanting Travels was born more than a decade ago, in 2004, by two passionate travelers turned entrepreneurs. After finishing their MBAs at INSEAD in France, they knew they wanted to share their joy of travel in a more seamless, professional and authentic way in order to give guests better experiences and memories to last a lifetime. Today, the company is international with 6 offices across 4 continents, and in 32 different countries. Enchanting Travels employs nearly 130 people and is on a mission to continue redefining custom travel experiences.

Suggestions for You

Top 3 Hotels in Bangkok – Best Bang for Your Buck

Is it Safe to Travel to Muslim Countries?

10 Incredible Hotels in Los Angeles

The 3 Best Hotels in Santa Fe, New Mexico

7 Things You Need to Know Before a Machu Picchu Hike


Travel Tips | Travel Advice from Travel Experts

Travel Tips

Travel Tips from Travel Experts. The best restaurants, destinations, events and advice available. Avoid the pitfalls of travel by becoming a travel expert. 1000TravelTips.com is the world’s number 1 source for the latest travel tips, skills and actionable advice that can be used anywhere, at any time. Hear from the top name travel experts that you can’t find anywhere else: Samantha Brown, Rick Steves, Peter Greenberg, Pauline Frommer, Patricia Schultz and more. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the top travel tips straight to your inbox!