Any classical dance form, be it western, middle-eastern or Indian, is characterized mostly by conventional steps, elaborate formal gestures, steps, poses, movement precision and above all, a codified structure. In the western world, ballet and flamenco would be considered western classical dance forms, that provide the basic foundational training to any budding dancer who would want to improve his/her body strength, stamina, fine lines, movements, posture, hand and foot work. In the Middle East, classical ‘Raks Sharqi’ or middle-eastern, ‘oriental’ forms are believed to have been secret exercises or movements passed down from mothers to daughters through the ages. Classical dances could also refer to Indian classical styles of dance which are Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kathak, Kathakali, Manipuri, Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam; all set to a codified set of theories, known as the ‘Natya Shastra’. All around the world, there has been a propagation of various classical styles of dance with a growing need to understand and relate to specific cultures and also to be able to incorporate the art of specific, classical stagecraft into one’s everyday routine. Famous classical dancers and choreographers are Maurice Bejart, Alicia Alonso, Sir Anton Dolin, Natalia Makarova, Peter Martins, Pandit Birju Maharaj, Rukmini Devi Arundale, Uday Shankar, Sujata Mohapatra, Aziza, Samia Gamal and Naima Akef. If you would like to learn more on classical dancers and choreographers, then go through the list and explore details about them in their biographies, which include trivia, interesting facts, timeline and life history.
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