In India dance is considered to be spiritual in origin. The gods and goddesses
not only enjoy and encourage dancing, drama and miming, but also many of
them are great dancers themselves. Tandava, the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva,
is believed to be associated with creation, preservation, and destruction. This
idea has been embedded in Hindu thought and rituals since the early days of
civilization. The dances of Kali, the dark and fierce Goddess of destruction,
are very significant. Krishna is one of the most popular dancing divinities of
the Hindus. Apsaras, the celestial courtesans of God Indra"s court, who can
change their shapes at will, have found mention in mythological texts.
Urvasi, Meneka, Rambha and Tilottama are the most famous among Apsaras
who are well versed in the art of music and dancing.
    Bharata"s Natyasastra, which is a great, comprehensive work on the
science and techniques of Indian drama, dance and music, is the common
root of all classical dance forms. It contains deliberations on the different
kind of postures, the mudras, and their meanings, the kind of emotions and
their categorization, besides the kind of attires, the stage, the ornaments and
the audience. Based on the Natyashastra, Brahma, the creator and the first of
the Hindu Trinity, was asked to create a pass time by the gods. Brahma had
created drama. Further to that, he took pathya (words) from the Rigveda,
abhinaya (gesture) from the Yajurveda, geet (music and chant) from
Samaveda and rasa (sentiment and emotional element) from Atharvaveda to
form the fifth Veda, Natyaveda.
    Not only mythology, but also closer to reality, dance was an integral part
of the art of dramatic theatre in ancient India, particularly in non-Aryan,
primarily Dravidan societies. Ample evidences of the popularity of dance in
the Indian society right from the Mesolithic period can be found. The first
and the oldest of evidences to date of the popularity of dance is the discovery
of the bronze figurine of a dancer from the Indus Civilization excavations at
Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Dancing figures are also commonplace in many
primitive cave paintings and sculptures at temples and stupas.
    In India, dance and music are part of all aspects of life and bring colour,
joy and gaiety to a number of festivals and ceremonies. Dance not only
depicts the cultural aspects