of a civilization but also is a form of
Indian dance is very sensuous but the ananda (bliss) it evokes is very
spiritual. Rasa (mood or flavour) as the cause of ananda is considered
fundamental essence of beauty and harmony in Indian aesthetics. bhava
(cause of emotion), anubhava (effect of emotion) and sanchari or
vyavhichari bhava (subordinate emotions) make up the state of rasa.
    All dance forms are thus structured around the nine rasas or emotions:
hasya (happiness), krodha (anger), bhibasta (disgust), bhaya (fear), shoka
(sorrow), viram (courage), karuna (compassion), adbhuta (wonder) and
shanta (serenity). All dance forms use the same hand gestures or hasta
mudras for each of these rasas. The only places where these dances differ are
where the local genius has adapted them to local demands and needs.
    An Indian dance has three parts: nritta – the rhythmic elements, nritya –
the combination of rhythm with expression and natya – the dramatic element.
Nritya is usually the expression through the eyes, hands and facial
movements. Nritya and nritta together make up the usual dance programmes.
Later, as the art evolved, other characteristics were further described,
including the male (tandava) or powerful, strong, firm aspect, and the female
(lasya), soft, flowing and subtle. All this presented as a comprehensive
package whose primary aim was to create rasa or the enjoyment of watching
an aesthetic performance.
    There are four strong traditions of the classical dance form: shastra,
sculpture, folk tradition and ancient literature. Each of these traditions was
developed, nurtured, practiced constantly and hence kept alive by a long and
distinguished line of "Gurus" who dedicated their lives to perfecting the art
form and handing it down to the next generation. Following the ancient
method of the Guru–Shishya Parampara of teaching, the Gurus kept the
dance traditions alive through the ages. In this method of teaching–learning,
serious and devoted students lived with their master as in a family, perfecting
their dance training over a number of years. In return, they looked after and
cared for their Guru. They grew vegetables and fruits on the land, cooked,
cleaned and earned an income through dance recitals.
    India"s rich mythology and folk legends are behind the theme of most
Indian dances. Hindu gods and goddesses like Vishnu and Lakshmi, Rama
and Sita, Krishna and Radha have all been depicted in classical Indian
dances. Not only gods and goddesses,     each dance form also draws inspiration