As a keen observer of dancers and students of classical forms I have noticed some features which prompted me to think that there is a connection between spirituality and classical dance. As a student of dance in my childhood and early teens I have personally experienced the exalted state into which I got transformed while performing and somewhere in my mind I always felt it has some deep spiritual connection.
First of all the entire history, atmosphere in which a classical dance is performed, the attire, the music and lyrics, the traditions and rituals connected with it, the mudras, the gestures, all have a spiritual touch to it.
Classical Indian Dance Part 1
The very fact that classical dance in the current form is derived from the Shiva’s dance, Shiva being the all pervading, omnipresent principle or ‘thathva” itself is the first connection to spirituality. Siva dances in trance and anyone who is dancing with full sincerity definitely feel the trance state and it is certainly a form of meditation and that is one reason most of the dancer’s opine “ dance is my soul”.
The mudra’s that are used in dance are the same ones used for pooja’s performed in temples and each mudra has an effect on our nervous system, affecting each part of our body, much like a pranayama, directing our life force in the desired direction to get into fine balancing of energy in the body and to have a healthy mind and body.
Classical dance is performed with a pleasant face, a gentle smile which is again a part of a meditative composure, as you could find in many a slokas the Divine form ; be it Vishnu, Devi, Subramanian, all having a pleasant smile on their faces. Teachers keep telling the students to keep a pleasant face and gentle smile while dancing and if you notice the dancers, it becomes like a nature to them that are always pleasant and having a meditative composure overall.
The classical dance never uses any offensive or vulgar movements and it has always been a communication to the Divine which other’s too watched, not necessarily just to enthrall the audiences. Hence it was always divine and even showing the back side of the dancer for more than a few seconds were barred.The attire of the dancer’s if you observe were decently stitched, highlighting their beauty at the same time being within the limits not going into vulgarity.