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Tandava Dance | Ancient Classical Dance

Tandava dance is an ancient classical dance form. There is a legend that the dance taught by Shiva to his disciple Tandu and popularized by Tandu is Tandava dance. Ordinarily, Tandava means Shiva’s passionate and angry dance. According to some experts, the Tandava dance originated from an Anarya deity who had both God and a demon.

Tandava Dance

History of Tandava dance

In Natyashastra, Bharat has considered dance as’ Margi (metaphysical) and ‘Desi’ (physical). Among them Margi includes Tandava and Desi lasya. Bharata has imagined two sections of ‘dance’ (pure dance with rhythmic gestures). One ‘rude’ and the other ‘smooth’. Uddhat means orgasm and smooth means lasya.

These two dances have given rise to two types of dance, namely Uddhat or Tandava dance and Masrun or Lasya dance, says Abhinav Gupta. It is believed that Bhan, Prahasan, Veethi and Tandava dances were formed from the lasya dance. Lasya is a gentle dance form in which the decorative juice is preferred while in the Tandava dance the juices like Veer, Raudra, Bhayanak and Bibhats are preferred.

From this original subdivision, the popular dance forms of Tandava and Lasya gradually took shape. Tandava is not just Shiva’s dance, it is a passionate, energetic and masculine dance form. The nature of Tandava can be described as dance to Tandava, which is full of enthusiasm, heroic and occasional raudrabhav, performed by men with impulsive gestures.

Similar Dances

The dance forms of Tandava and Lasya are generally similar to the Western ballet dances ‘Allegro’ and ‘Piannisimo’. Tandava is present in all the dance traditions prevalent in India. All the ‘Cholam’ dance forms in Manipuri dance are ‘Kartal Cholam’, ‘Pung Cholam’ i.e. Tandava style dances.

In Kathak, some of the dances of Shiva and Kali dance are in Tandava style. In Kathakali dance, the Tandava style is more perfect than Lasyanga. Because the juices of Veer, Raudra and Adbhut are nurtured in Kathakali. Whatever the storyline of Kathakali, Tandava style dance is an integral part of it.

Types of Tandava dance

The book ‘Natnadi Vaadya Ranjanam’, which is prevalent in the south, describes the twelve types of Tandava as follows:

  1. Anand Tandava
  2. Sandhya Tandava
  3. Shringar Tandava
  4. Tripur Tandava
  5. Auddhav Tandava
  6. Muni Tandava
  7. Bhujang Tandava
  8. Sanhar Tandava
  9. Uggir Tandava
  10. Bhoot Tandava
  11. Shuddha Tandava
  12. Pralay Tandava

In this book, the term Tandava is used in the sense of passionate and energetic dance.

Bharatanatyam is included in the section ‘Shringar Tandav’ and it is stipulated that it should be done only by women and not by men. The dance ‘Natanam Adinar’ is an example of Anand Tandava.

According to the prevailing tradition in the north, there are only five solo dances performed by Shiva, namely: Anand Tandava, Sandhya Tandava, Kalika Tandava, Tripur Tandava and Sanhar Tandava. Apart from this, Gauri Thandav and Uma Thandav were performed with Parvati which was a pair of Thandav dances.

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