Traditional Dance Of Tamil Nadu | Classical and Folk Dance

Tamil Nadu is one of India’s states which is filled with art forms, especially when it comes to people, culture, and dance forms. Yeah, the dance forms right here in Tamil Nadu are something else, which you’ll not find or have seen in any other part of the country. If that’s what sounds super intriguing to you and you wanna know more about the traditional dance forms of Tamil Nadu then keep on reading because this is what we are onto today. Here we go.

1. Bharatanatyam


Now, you might have already expected us to first talk about Bharatanatyam, right? Well, here we are. Before anything else, know that Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest dance forms, not just in Tamil Nadu though, but all across the country. Centuries ago, this dance form was started from Temples in Tamil Nadu, and then it actually became a traditional thing in the down south of the country. The dancers that perform this traditional art form wear special attire which includes Kancheepuram Silk Sarees, which now is like the symbol of Bharatanatyam, not just in India but on a global stage. Apart from that, the music and rhythm of instruments like Mridangam and Veena really bring that unique touch to this unique art form. It truly is mesmerizing to see dancers performing Bharatanatyam right in front of you.

2. Karagattam

This is the dance that you may recognize because of the unique style where the dancers actually balance multiple pots on their heads and dance to the rhythm of the catchy music in the background. This dance form, though, is specifically performed to pray for rain to the Goddess Mariamman.

3. Kavadi Aattam

Now this particular dance form right here is specifically performed in devotion or to impress Lord Murugan. The origin story of Kavadi Aattam is pretty impressive too, it was actually formed from the practices of ancient Tamil Pilgrims. In this dance form, the dancers carry a special holy structure made out of bamboo and there are pots tied to the ends of this structure aka Kavadi. While carrying Kavadi, you’ll often see dancers letting out their rhythm to the music playing in the background.

4. Kazhai Kothu

If we were to talk about only the energetic dance forms from Tamil Nadu, then for sure, Kazhai Kothu would top the list. When you see Kazhai Kothu in real life, it’ll feel more like modern-day gymnastics, but in rhythm, and that will be a  mesmerizing experience for you. The dancers often use bamboo sticks in this dance form, and apart from that, they also wear stand-out colorful attire.

5. Kolattam

Well, you see, Kolattam roughly translates to “Stick Dance,” but it is exclusively performed by women. In this dance form, the use of bamboo sticks is involved but in a rhythmic manner which is pretty cool and relaxing to look at. This dance is usually performed when there is a special festival like Deepavali.

6. Kummi

Again, Kummi is another dance form that is mainly performed by women, and you’ll see this dance often in rural parts of Tamil Nadu. In this dance form, women stand up in a circle next to each other, and then they start clapping their hands in unison to the rhythm of the music playing in the background.

7. Mayilattam

Now, Mayilattam is a dance that you’ll recognize pretty easily wherever you see it performed by the dancers. And that’s because, in this dance form, the dancers dress up like a peacock, wearing blue attire and peacock feathers. This dance is mainly performed when the local community is offering to Lord Murugan for blessings.

8. Puliyattam

Similar to the Mayilattam, in Puliyattam, dancers dress up as a tiger, but instead of wearing proper clothes, the dancers paint their bodies in yellow, orange, and black. Again, this dance is performed to honor the Goddess Mariamman, and this dance form symbolizes the strength and agility of the tigers.

What Are Other Notable Traditional Dances Of Tamil Nadu?

Apart from these main dance forms in Tamil Nadu and the south of the country, there are several other folk dances, possibly dozens of them. But yeah, we’d like to mention a few that stand out and make you see the true beauty of Tamil Nadu’s culture. We are talking about popular dance forms like Ottan Koothu, Paampu Attam, Poikkal Kudhirai, Shattam Dance, and Koothu.

Remember, each of these dance forms is unique and performed to impress the gods and goddesses for good fortune and blessings. The dance style, attire, rhythm, and the significance of these folk dance forms are one of the major part of the culture right here in Tamil Nadu


There you have it. We hope that you like this little detour showing you the different dance forms of Tamil Nadu, how they are performed, why they are performed, what dancers wear, and things like that. So yeah, next time you’ll see any of these dance forms being performed right in front of you, you’ll likely be more appreciative of the culture of Tamil Nadu. Right?

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