Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies




Indian Classical Dances are a mirror of the traditional culture in India and therefore the people in India find it easy to connect with them. These dances involve a combination of body movements, gestures and facial expressions to portray certain emotions and feelings. There are seven major Indian Classical Dances- Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri and Mohiniattam. These dances possess three common aspects - Natya, Nritta and, Nritya. These aspects include several other elements which are at the core of these dances. This literature review focuses on three of those primary elements – Abhinaya, Gestures and Navarasas because they are used as a tool for expressing various narratives through movements. Furthermore, these elements are believed to be therapeutic in nature and have proven to be beneficial for the holistic well-being of an individual who practices these elements. Dance/Movement therapy (DMT) as defined by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) is “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being” (ADTA, 2014). This literature review synthesizes the common features of Indian Classical Dances and DMT by analyzing their benefits to one’s overall well-being. In addition to this, it attempts to establish a link between the expressive elements of the Indian Classical Dances and the Marian Chace’s framework of DMT. Lastly, it concludes the ways in which these dances can be further studied to be considered as a potential technique of DMT.




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