What is South Asian dance?


A guide to Bihu

The Bihu dance is a folk dance from the northeast Indian state of Assam and is performed mostly during the harvest festival of Bihu. It is a group dance in which males and females dance together but maintain different gender roles. In general, females follow stricter line or circle formations. The male dancers and musicians enter the dancing area first, and they maintain their lines and follow synchronized patterns.

The dance is usually characterized by definite postures; movements of the hips, arms, wrists; twirls, squats and bends but no jumps. Male and female dance movements are very similar, with only subtle differences. The dance is performed in accompaniment with traditional Bihu music. The most important musicians are the drummers (dhulia), who play a particular twin-faced drum, the dhol, slung from the neck and played with one stick and a palm.

group of South Asian dancers in ornate costumes outdoors
Young dancers perform the Bihu dance for the Rongali Bihu festival at Diphalu village in the Nagaon district of Assam, 2018. Photo: Diganta Talukdar. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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