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The performing arts in India, namely music, dance, drama, and cinema, showcase the best of the culture and traditions of India. The brilliant costumes, quaint adornments, exquisite jewelry, and the traditional practices of the different regions in India are on display in the different performing arts. The distinctive cultural traditions and stories of the different parts of India can be witnessed through these performing arts. All the different emotions of life or the nine rasas are beautifully portrayed by the artists during their performances.
The two main schools of Indian music are the Hindustani music in the North and the Carnatic music in the South. The traditions and style of singing of these two schools have been passed on through oral traditions. The different gharanas or sampradayas have developed their own particular style of renditions and traditions that have been fiercely maintained and passed on to their students. The classical tradition of music in India is a form of prayer or meditation and helps to evoke a certain emotion or mood following the directions of Sage Bharata, the father of Indian music. The Indian musicians make use of the raga, tala, and the shrutis to create music that evokes different reactions. Some of the greatest names in the world of Indian music are Amir Khusro, Tansen, and Thyagaraja amongst others. Besides classical music, the other performing art forms in this genre are folk music such as Bhangra music, Haryanavi music, Rabindra Sangeet, Dandiya music, Qawalli, Ghazals, and modern music.
Dance has been an integral part of the performing arts in India for over 2000 years. Dances are also divided into the classical and folk dances. The themes for dance performances are drawn from Indian mythology and folklore. The classical dance forms such as Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam and Odissi follow ancient dance disciplines and strict rules for performance. Students have to undergo rigorous training before they are considered worthy of stage performances. History and the presence of foreign rulers in India have left their mark on the dance traditions in India.
India has a rich tradition in theater that is linked to the seasonal festivals and ancient rituals that are a part and parcel of Indian culture. Theater in India encompasses dance, drama, and music and the performers are well skilled in all these art forms. Folk theater can be found in most of the villages in India during festivities and are based on stories from Hindu mythology. They deal with dramatic representation of rituals that have spiritual and religious significance. While these are amateur theaters, the professional ones are usually city based. Puppet theater is also quite popular in India. All the rich and rare traditional performing art forms of India have been preserved and are promoted by the government through institutions such as the Sangeet Natak Akademi and other cultural organizations. Financial assistance is given in the form of awards and scholarships to training institutions, students, and teachers.