Explore India Through These 8 Stunning Classical & Folk Dance Festivals

Posted on 18 August, 2016 by Team Wishberry

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When you’re a country with a dance history that dates back to centuries, it’s only obvious that dance becomes not only an intrinsic part of the culture but also a celebrated art form. This is especially true for classical dances which, although face tremendous competition from modern forms of dance, continue to hold a special place in the hearts of Indians everywhere. In a bid to encourage classical Indian dance forms, and keep the torch burning bright, there are some excellent dance festivals celebrating this form. Check it out!

 

Elephanta Festival

When: February/March

Where: Elephanta Caves

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This is a two-day cultural extravaganza held at the Elephanta Caves, a short ferry ride away from Mumbai. Organized by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), the festival was started as an initiative to popularise classical music, dance and other art forms. Now in its twenty sixth year, festival brings together the stalwarts of classical Indian dance and music, such as Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Yasmin Singh,


Hampi Utsav

When: January

Where: Hampi

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Also known as Vijaya Utsav or Nada Utsav, one of the most anticipated festivals in Karnataka. The festival has been celebrated since Vijayanagar reign, and goes on for three days. Hampi Utsav is a vibrant celebration of dance, drama and art, and attracts visitors from all over the world. Puppet shows, extravagant fireworks and mind-boggling processions are also a highlight of this festival. The entire town is given a rich and decadent makeover during the festival, which alone makes it an experience of a lifetime!


Kalinga Mahotsav

When: January

Where: Orissa

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Kalinga Mahotsav is also considered to be the national festival of martial dance. During the rule of King Ashoka, Kalinga witnessed the bloodiest battle in the history of India, making the king realize the futility of violence and change his ways. Kalinga Mahotsav was started as a tribute to this battle. The festival is a 2-day event packed with immense talent and adrenaline. It brings together the vibrant martial arts dance forms from all over India, such as Chhau and Paika from Odisha, Kalaripayattu from Kerala, Thang Ta from Manipur and much more!


Khajuraho Dance Festival

When: February  

Where: Madhya Pradesh

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Khajuraho Dance Festival is a weeklong extravaganza set amidst the ancient and magnificent temples, setting forth the most vibrant and stunning classical dance forms of India. Celebrated on the onset of spring, one gets to see some of the best performances across dance forms like Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam, Kathakali, Odissi, Sattriya, Manipuri and so on. Stellar dance performances held against a backdrop of the imposing temples create an effect that’s mesmerising to say the least! There’s a reason why the Khajuraho Dance Festival is called the ultimate dance festival of India! 


Konark Dance Festival

When: February

Where: Orissa

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The Konark Dance and Music Festival was started in 1986 with the sole aim of discovering newer artistes and giving them a platform. The festival is set up in the monumental Sun Temple in Konark, and is home to almost every folk and classical Indian dance – such as Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Gotipua and the likes. You’ll also find mesmerizing classical music performances from some of the best in the country. The festival offers an experience that’s enchanting and rustic at the same time, pretty much transporting you to the ancient era.


Modhera Dance Festival

When: January

Where: Gujarat

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The Modhera Dance Festival is a three-day event that takes place in the 11th Sun Temple at Modhera located in the Mehsana district of Gujarat. The festival was started with an objective of presenting dance forms in the locations they were originally presented in i.e. temples. Dance troupes and artists from all over the country perform at this eclectic festival, which is attended by art and dance connoisseurs from all over the world.


Natyanjali Dance Festival

When: To be decided

Where: Tamil Nadu

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Natyanjali Dance Festival takes place at the Nataraj Temple in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. The festival is held in honour of Lord Nataraj, the dancing manifestation of Lord Shiva. The festival goes on for five days, and serves as an excellent platform for budding classical Indian dancers. It’s a festival enjoyed by novices and connoisseurs with equal gusto.


Prakriti - A Festival of Tribal Arts

When: March

Where: Delhi

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Prakriti is the national festival of tribal dances. Tribal troupes from all parts of the country participate in the festival, making it a brilliant microcosm of folk talent in India. Close to 30 different folk dances – such as, Karma (Uttar Pradesh), Bhagoriya (Madhya Pradesh), Chholiya (Uttarakhand), Lompi (Manipur), Parichakali (Lakshadweep), Bardoi Sikhla (Jharkhand), Santhali (West Bengal), Tamang Selo (Sikkim), War (Manipur) Wangala (Meghalaya), and a lot more – share the stage at this festival. Want to get a good taste of the vast and varied folk art and culture in India? Don’t miss this festival!

 

There are many more brilliant festivals dotted throughout the country, reminding us of the vibrant dance community and the thriving culture, in spite of the many challenges! If you’re looking to explore the folk and classical dance space in India, these festivals are a great start.

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