At a Glance :
Region : Bihar, India
Practiced By : Males Only
Unique Feature : Masks
Themes : Inspired by Mythology & Nature
Chhau dance form of Bihar is a one of the major dance forms of Bihar's tribal people. Through the performance of this dance, they express their happiness and celebrate the joyful moments. In fact, this is a war dance which includes fighting techniques; it is very old dance form. Chhau dance displays huge virility & energy. This a very famous and vibrant dance type of this state. The name Chhau has been derived from great Sanskrit language that is Chhaya the meaning of this word is shade. The prime characteristics of Chhau dance is mask; in tribal people call mask as Chhau. Chhau dance form's techniques contains Pharikhanda system, it is an exercise system. The entire dance is fulfilled through energy and impulsiveness. This tribal dance types is only practiced through tribal males of this region. To perform the dance, the artists not just wear masks but they also hold shields and swords while the dance. Usually Chhau dance is practiced over well lit dais that is adorned by using numbers of lanterns, torches and oil lamps.
Basically Chhau dance of Bihar state is martial dance in which the dancers wear mask that dominate the whole dance performance and help the dancer to projects, creates and build the atmosphere. This is a dance of robustness & power not like other dance forms of India. The complete body gesture that dancers project is very powerful and poetic. The dancing movements of leg are very effective which communicate the theme of performance. Chhau dance can be practiced by group, solo or through drama dance fusion. The subjects that dancers try to depict through dance are majorly belongs to mythology and nature. Dance steps of foot contain a huge range of sweeps and extensions during the torso, which makes unpredictable thrusts and turns.
The dance themes are always inspired by daily life, mythology, factors of mood, nature or emotion. The Purulia Chhau dance always focus on only one theme that is victory of good over bad. Purulia Chhau dance also present the animal world and nature. There are some more forms of dance such as Sarpa Nritya, Sagara Nritya and Mayura Nritya etc.
The music that accompany the Chhau dance performance is originally depend on Hindustani ragas that contains musical instruments such as Dhol, Nagara, Shehnai, cylindrical drum, big kettledrum and reed pipe.