An important part of the rich cultural heritage of India are the traditional dance forms of India, which are unique and unmatched in their grace and ability to tell detailed stories through bodily movements. An Indian dance performance, no matter which type it is, will always be a fascinating and colorful affair, showing a perfect amalgamation of music, dance, story-telling and costumes. The costumes for Indian classical dance make for crucial part of any performance and every different dance form has a different type of Indian dance costume required to execute the dance performance. Though there are many different types of dances in every region of India, there are eight recognized and formal classical dances which are defined by a rigid set of rules in terms of the dance itself and the over-all requirements for performance (mainly the costume and styling) of these, Kathak and Bharatnatyam are the two most popular forms of classical dance. These have gained not just a pan-Indian but also an international audience; today, they are taught and practiced in countries around the world and not just in their cities of origin. The Indian dance outfits for each of these are quite different, because both of these dances have a very different cultural and regional affiliation.
Bharatnatyam Dance Costumes
The pallu is extremely significant and is usually very colorful with bold gold borders, similar to traditional south Indian designs. It is prominently draped across the torso in the front and tucked into a kamarbandh or waist chain. Below the waist a fan-like piece of cloth is attached. This pleated fan is essential to the look. Usually these costumes closely resemble colorful south silk sarees, right down to the lustrous fabric and the large, gold borders that may or may not come with temple border designs.
Kathak Dance Costumes
For Kathak, women usually wear a lehenga choli. The lehenga or ghagra is usually a long skirt with a wide, circular cut that flares out beautifully with every twirl. It is paired with a short, tight-fitting blouse called the choli and a long dupatta or scarf draped across the front from one shoulder and pinned in place. This is not the only type of costume worn for Kathak; the anarkali churidar kameez, named after the famous Mughal dancer, is also widely worn for more Mughal inspired performances.