Folk Arts of Karnataka
Dancing is a huge part of the folk arts in Karnataka and the dances are some of the oldest in the country. Most of the dances that come from different tribes are still being performed and passed down from generation to generation.
Kunitha is the ritual dances, which includes dollu kunitha, which is performed by the males in the shepherding community. This dance, distinguished by the fast movements, intense drum beats, and the formations that are synchronized.
The Kodavas have their own dances including Bolak-aat and Huttari dance. These dances are normally performed around harvest time and the men dance as if they are in slow motion while decked up in the traditional costumes that include a knife for decoration.
Bolak-aat is performed by the males from Kodava and the dance is performed before an oil lamp which is placed in the middle of an open field. They perform this dance with a Kodava short sword and a chavari in their hands.
Ummatt-aat is the dance for the women of Kodava where they are elaborately dressed in the traditional clothing including jewelry, kumkuma. The dance is a rhythmic one that is performed while dancing in a circle with cymbals made of brass.
Komb-aat is the dance that is performed with religious thought and in the temple. The Kodava men perform this dance with deer antlers, which represent the horns of Krishnamruga.
Beesu kamsale, which is also known as kamsale nritya, is performed by a group of men from the villages in Mysore, Kollegala, Nanjanagudu and areas surrounding Bangalore. The dance is performed using a kamsale, which consists of a cymbal and bronze disc in their hands, which are used to create the rhythmic clangs.
Somana kunita is also known as the mask dance and is danced to celebrate the spirits, especially for the Mother Goddess, in the southern region of Karnataka. This dance requires many different props including the mask, which is colored depending on the spirit being celebrated, along with a stick or cane and feathers from a peacock.
Jaggahalige kunita is performed on special occasions such as Holi and Yugadi in the region of Hubballi Dharwad. This dance that typically has around 15 dancers and the main instrument that is used is the jaggahalige which is an instrument constructed from the wheel of a bullock cart that is wrapped with buffalo hides.