Shastriya Nritya

Definition - What does Shastriya Nritya mean?

Shastriya nritya is a Sanskrit term that describes Indian classical dance and performance arts. Shastriya is derived from the Sanskrit word shastra, or “science.” Nritya translates as “dance.” Traditionally, the Indian performing arts (dance, drama and music) have been studied and analyzed as a type of science.

Rooted in Hindu musical theater, shastriya nritya uses symbolism, gestures, facial expressions and pantomime set to music to tell a story and convey a mood. Even the props, clothing and makeup color have symbolic significance, all understood by the audience.

Yogapedia explains Shastriya Nritya

Shastriya nritya differs from folk dance in that it must performed by following specific guidelines set forth in the ancient Sanskrit text Natya Shastra. Today, India's academy of dance, music and drama, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, has granted the following dance styles classical status:

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

Each is specific to a certain region of India. Native to eastern India, Odissi is thought to be the oldest of the shastriya nritya performed today. It is typically performed by women using more than 50 hand mudras (gestures) and postures like those found in religious sculptures.

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