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Kalbelia: A dance close to the nature

Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 4:39:00 AM

Kalbelia is one of an aesthetic dance form which is very famous in the state of Rajasthan. This dance is performed by the tribe of the same name. This is an ancient tribe and the community is very similar to that of serpents. Their main occupation is snake catching and trading them. This dance form is an integral part of this community. In addition to that it reflects their living and culture.

This dance is a group effort. Both men and women play their part in a performance. This dance is a representation of joy. Due to this this dance is performed on festive occasions or a cultural event. The actual fun of their performance can be enjoyed at the gatherings somewhere around the festival of Holi.  

The dance movements have a similarity to the movements of a snake. It is characterized by rhythmic stomps, hip movements and kicks, ever-changing hand movements, spinning, dancing on the knees, and dancing with partners. As the dance progresses the pace of the rhythm goes on increasing so does the dance. There can be more than three females dancers on the stage at the same time.

The costume also resembles that of a snake. The Kalbeliya women dancers wear long, black coloured, drindled-skirts heavily worked with embroidery and light-coloured thread along with small pieces of mirrors. In addition to that on the head, the female Kalbelia dancers wear Odhani. This costume draws the attention in a somewhat strange way. The clothes are a blend of red and black. These colour combination makes the dancer attractive in the eyes of the spectators. The female dancers also wear jewellery and garments which have small mirrors and silver threads embroidered on them.

The male counterparts help in playing the music. There can be two to three musicians present during the performance. Only traditional musical instruments used in Kalbelia dance. Poongi is the main musical instrument used in Kalbelia dance. Poongi is a kind of woodwind musical instrument used by Kalbelia tribe during catching snakes. Dufli, Morchang, Dholak, Khanjari and Khuralio are the names of other traditional musical instruments used by Kalbelia tribe in Kalbelia dance along with the main instrument Poongi. The songs sung during the performance belong to this tribe. They are passed from generations to generations. There are no written evidences for these songs. The music played is almost similar to the rajasthani music.

Gulabo, Suva Devi, Senu Sapera are few of the world famous Kalbelia dancers who are performing Kalbelia dance worldwide.

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