There are many different types of dances, which are often categorised as classical or folk. Different types of Indian dances in different areas of India evolved thus according to local customs, and included features from those other parts of the nation, just like other aspects of Indian culture.
Several sources as well as researchers acknowledge more than eight ancient dances as Indian classical dances, according to the Sangeet Natya Academy, India’s national academy for performing arts. This has their origins in Hinduism’s holy performance arts as well as the Sanskrit scripture Natya Shastra. Folk dances come in a variety of styles and numbers, depending on the local tradition of the state, ethnic group, or geographic location. Contemporary dances are fusions of classical, folk, as well as Western styles that are polished and experimental.
India’s dancing traditions have influenced not just the dances of South Asia as a whole, but also the dances of Southeast Asia. Dances in Indian cinema, such as Bollywood Dance for Hindi films, are known for their freeform expression of dance and have a strong presence in Indian popular culture.
Dance has its origins in India dating back to prehistoric times. Dance scenes may be seen among the earliest palaeolithic and neolithic cave paintings, such as those found at the UNESCO world heritage site at Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh. Dance figures may be seen on several sculptures discovered at Indus Valley Civilization archaeological sites, which are now spread over Pakistan and India. The Dancing Girl sculpture, for example, dates from around 2500 BCE.
The Vedas combine rituals with other forms of performance art, such as a theatrical play in which not only praised to gods spoken or sung, but the conversations were also part of a dramatic portrayal and debate of spiritual issues. The Sanskrit lyrics in Shatapatha Brahmana chapter 13.2 are composed in the manner of a drama between two performers, for example.
Natasutras, which are referenced in the work of Panini, the sage who composed the classic on Sanskrit grammar and who is dated to around 500 BCE, are the first dance-related literature. Other late Vedic manuscripts cite this performing arts-related Sutra work, as do two academics named Shilalin and Krishashva, who are considered as pioneers in the study of ancient play and singing.