Definition - What does Sattriya mean?

Sattriya is a form of Indian classical dance that has its origins in the northeastern state of Assam. The name of the dance comes from sattras, which are the Vaishnava monasteries where the performances and rehearsals were primarily held until Sattriya received official status in 2000.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi -- India's academy of dance, music and drama -- confers classical status on dance performance art that is encompassed by the term, shastriya nritya (science of dance). In addition to Sattriya, the following styles have classical status: Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Manipuri and Mohiniyattam.

Yogapedia explains Sattriya

Also called Sattriya Nritya, this dance form must – like other forms of shastriya nritya – follow specific guidelines set forth in the "Natya Shastra," an ancient manual for the performance of dance. Hand gestures (hasta mudras), footwork, music, facial expressions and even costumes are used symbolically to tell a story.

Musical compositions, called borgeets, based on classical ragas, provide the accompaniment with the traditional instrumentation of drums, cymbals and the flute. In modern times, other instruments have been added.

Three categories of Sattriya performances include:

  • Nritta – fast, rhythmic abstract dance
  • Nritya – slower, expressive dance that tells a story through movement and engages the emotions
  • Natya – a play that uses elements of nritya

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