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Folk Dance, Songs & Performing Arts of Bihar
Chhau dance

Chhau is a folk dance which depicts enormous vitality and virility. The three main elements of classical dance namely Raga (melody), Bhava (mood) and Tala (Rythmic timing) form an important aspect of Chhau dance. The word chhau comes from “Chhaya” of Sanskrit root. Chhaya means shade. As mask form an important feature of this it is called “Chhau” which means mask. “Chhau” dance is mainly male dominated dance form.

Chhau dance mainly include certain steps from “Pharikhanda” which is a system of exercise.  This system of exercise has been an important part of training of Sipahis. All the performers hold swords and shields while performing this exercise.

The stages are decorated and brilliantly lit by a large number of torches, lanterns and flickering oil lamps. Ragas of Hindustani music are the main base of tunes. The musical instrument used is the Dhol, Nagara and Sehnais.  The dance is performed by men and boys. As it is very difficult to dance for a very long time with a mask, the dance does not last more than 7-10 minutes. The entire body and being of the dancer is employed as a single unit as his language. The body language is extremely poetic and powerful. The legs form an effective means of communicating the expression. Although the face is covered by mask it mysteriously expresses the feeling to be communicated.


 

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