Highly cultivated classical music and dance with its own distinct style is part of the cultural tradition of Rajasthan. The music is uncomplicated and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores, more often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.Rajasthan’s dance and music is deeply lyrical. Its folk dances are an old art form and in many of them music and dance goes hand in hand, for example the phad or the painted ballad, has a male musician and a female dancer, reciting the story together. Group singing or taalbandi is also a unique form of narration common to Rajasthani music. The maand is perhaps the most famous export of Rajasthani music, honed in the courts of the erstwhile royalty, it has a haunting beauty and an innate sophistication. Think of a Rajasthani dance and it conjures up images of women in voluminous skirts twirling around fires at night time under a black desert sky and whatever else your imagination may serve up, you wont be disappointed, the dances are mystical and compelling and very many to choose from.
A spectacular performance in which veiled women dance nimbly balancing seven or more brass pitchers on their heads.Bhavai is a genre of folk dance popular in Rajasthan state in western India. The male or female performers balance a number of earthen pots or brass pitchers as they dance nimbly, pirouetting and then swaying with the soles of their feet perched on the top of a glass, on the edge of the sword or on the rim of a brass thali (plate) during the performance.
The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Performed usually by a group of women, the dance is named after the Hindi word ‘ghoomna’ or pirouette, it is an elegant dance where the ladies twirl gently and gracefully in circles.
In the desert, water symbolizes survival and gathering water is an important everyday ritual for the women, the Chari dance reflects this simple yet all important part of their life. The dancers choreograph deft patterns with their hands while balancing brass pots on their heads.
Male dancers in elaborate costumes have fake horses strapped around them, to make them resemble the fierce Rajput warriors of times gone by. A balladeer sings in the background, narrating tales of bloody battles and bandits, fifes and drums lend the beat and the dancers with broad sweeping movements and props such as shields and swords act out the performance.
Fire Dance :
A dance that will both shock and surprise you. The dancers actually dance on a platform made of embers of burning wood and sizzling hot charcoal, drum beats rise in tandem with their movements, the music gradually crescendo and the dancers a trance like state. A spiritual performance, where of course not an inch of their feet gets burnt or harmed in any way.
Drum Dance :
As the name suggests men dance with drums around their necks, a part of the troupe dances while playing huge cymbals and the lead dancer balances a pointy sword on his mouth while at the same time juggling painted sticks. You watch with bated breath to see which of these might fall, but alas they never do.
Snake Dance :
One of the most sensuous dance forms of Rajasthan it is performed by the Kalbeliyas ( the snake charmers community). These sapera dancers wear long, black skirts embroidered with sliver ribbons and move with all the supple grace of these sinuous creatures.
Rajasthan’s indigenous music was perfected in its royal courts, sophisticated in style it was accompanied by unusual instruments, mostly handcrafted by the musicians themselves. The songs spoke of valour, courage and were mostly in praise of the Rajput rulers. Some of Rajasthans most popular performances include the Maand, the Kuchamani Khayal, Maach, Tamasha, Rammat, Nautanki and Raasleela. These ballads were sung mostly to the tune of instruments like the Morchang, Naad, Sarangi, Kamayacha, Rawanhattha, Algoza, Khartal, Poongi, Bankia and Daf. Most of these instruments are handcrafted and exclusive only to Rajasthan, you may want to take a closer look at them when you are there.