Psychological aspects of classical dance forms of India

Madhvi, K., Saritha, K.P. & Nalini B

Dance is a complete art enfolding in its range music, sculpture, poetry, painting and drama. In the Indian tradition, the divine concept of the cosmos and the philosophy of cognition, perception and thinking pervade and form a backdrop to the dance techniques. The art form is meant not just to entertain but also to instruct, inspire, discipline and lead to righteousness. Dance is supposed to have cathartic effects, serving as a release from psychological distress, arising out of pent-up human passions. Dance is also being introduced as a psychological means of expression in some psychotherapeutic and special-needs institutions. Dance then, holds promise as a useful psychological tool to give expression to feelings and emotions, thereby reducing psychological distress and enhancing general well-being. This paper is based on several readings on Indian classical dance forms and attempts to give a humble interpretation of the psycho-social aspects of Indian classical dance forms and as to how dance can be used as an indigenous form of psychotherapy in conjunction with other Indian forms like yoga and meditation.


This paper was presented at the
National Conference on
Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002