Dances in Uttarakhand
The mountainous state of Uttarakhand is a treasure trove of local art forms with the traditional performing art of this region mainly manifesting itself in the form of folk dance. The dance form in Uttarakhand doesn’t involve the complex moves of Indian classical dances but is more like a reflection of their age-old folklores and other local traditions.
Major Dance forms in Uttarakhand
Barada Nati is a particular kind of folk dance which originated in the Jaunsar Bhawar region of Dehradun district. Mainly performed before any important religious celebration, this dance form involves colourful local costumes and the participation of both men and women.
The Chancheri dance originated in the Danpur Patti area of Kumaon. In this dance, the women and men form a semicircle while dancing and the dance gradually switches to a faster pace.
This is a special Himalayan dance which can only be performed by couples. The women are known to hold a mirror in their left hand while on the right hand there’s a colourful kerchief. The male dancer plays an instrument called the Hudukka while his companions play other local instruments like the Manjira, flute or Hurka. This is a rather romantic dance where the woman makes some real charming moves expressing her love for her partner.
One of the oldest dance forms of the region, the Choliya dance dates back to thousands of years before. The Choliya dance which probably had its origins in Rajasthan used to be a part and parcel of the Rajput culture. This dance form soon spread to other regions in North India and the Himalayas and to this day it continues to be a very popular dance in Uttarakhand and Nepal. In the Kumayon district of Uttarakhand, the Choliya dance is often performed in accompaniment of local Uttarakhandi instruments like Turi and Ransing. Performed by male dancers with swords in hands, this dance features a lot of turns and jumps.
Jaggar is one of the most intriguing dance forms in Uttarakhand or rather in the entire Himalayan belt since it involves the evocation of spirits through a dance performance. More than often the Jaggars dance is companies by folk songs dedicated to the different gods and goddesses.
The Jhora dance is mostly performed in the advent of the springs in the village fairs. Even though it’s a community dance, the high castes and the Dalits are known to dance separately. While the minimum number of participants in the Jhora dance is six, it can often expand to a whopping two hundred on the day of a celebration. The men and women of the village make a circle holding hands, slightly twisting and turning their body with every beat of the Hurka. Apart from village fairs in the spring, this dance is also performed in weddings.
This is a men only dance form from Garhwal region which involves a lot of acrobatics and a bamboo pole. The bamboo pole is fixed in the centre of the dance floor as the dancer slowly make their way up on the top of the pole and carefully balances himself with the stomach on the tip of the pole. There are a group of musicians who stand beneath the pole and play percussion instruments like the dhol and damana.
This Garhwali dance form involves narration from the epic of Mahabharata which is mostly performed at big festivals such as Dusherra and Diwali. Apart from Garhwal the Pandav Nritya dance is also popular in the Chamoli district.
Yet another dance form dedicated to the coming of spring, the Ramola dance originated in the Kumaon region. In the bygone days, this dance used to be performed by wandering minstrels who roamed from village to village heralding the coming of spring. These days it is performed during the Holi festival where both men and women sing and dance in accompaniment of dhol, harmonium, table etc.
Tribal Folk Dance
The Bhotiya tribe of Uttarakhand perform a kind of dance which is connected with ceremonies related to death. The dance of the Bhotiyas which is meant to liberate the soul of the deceased is similar to tribal dances from parts of Himachal and Nagaland.