There have always been several communities of entertainers in Rajasthan, and they have served at both court and courtyard as they travelled through the state, recounting tales of passion and valour with equal adroitness. For many of these communities, this has been the only source of livelihood. Professional entertainers, who performed a particular type of dance, or entertainment, are to be found in the more fertile tracts of eastern Rajasthan. These include the Bhopas(who sing of Pabuji, accompanied by their phad paintaings), Kalbeliya dancers with their rhythmic snake dances, the Kachhi Ghodi dancers, and the puppeteers.
Traditionally, families would invite the Bhats, Dholis, Nats and Bhands to sing and dance at family celebrations, whether birts or marriages, or other festivities.
One of the most spectacular performances, it sounds of celebration. Its vibrant chords require little sophistry apart from the simple, unsophisticated instruments that include the ravanhatha (a stringed instruments), the morchng ( a Jewish harp), the bankia (trumpet), algoza (twin flutes), the duff (tambourine), and the amazingly innocuous matka (earthen pitcher) which is flipped over to play the most amazingly mesmeric beat. It also consists of veiled women dancers balancing upto seven or nine brass pitchers as they dance nimbly, pirouetting, and then swaying with the soles of their feet perched on top of glass, or on the edge of a sword.
Dancers choreograph deft patterns with their hands while balancing brass pots on their heads.
Put a naked sword in the mouth of a man, and give him three swords to juggle with his hands while avoiding causing an injury to himself. This to the accompaniment of his troupe that consists of musicians holding aloft drums around their necks and cymbals in their hands.
These dancers perform on a large bed of flaming coals, their steps moving to the beat of drums that rises in crescendo till the dancers appear to be in a near hypnotic state. These devotional performances are usually to be seen late on a winter's night.
The men wear, pleated tunics that open out into full-length skirts as they move first in clockwise then in anti-clockwise direction, beating their sticks to create the rhythm when they turn. Originally a Bhil dance, and performed at the time of Holi, its variations are the Dandia Gair in the Marwar region and Geendad in the Shekhawati region.
A community dance of the Rajputs, performed by the women of house and traditionally out of bounds for men. A new bride, on being welcomed tothe home of her husband, too is expected to dance the ghoomar as one of th rituals of the new marriages.
Originated from the bandit regions of Shekhawati, the dance is performed for the entertainment of a bridegroom's party.
This formal, classical dance evolved as a gharana in the couts of Jaipur.
A tradition of puppeteering has long existed in Rajasthan. It uses the ballads, retold in the voice of the puppeteer who is assisted by his family in erecting a make-shift stage.
A form of court music, the maand is a raga formation that developed in Marwar, and includes a complex inflexion of voices, sung in a deep bass. Sapera Dance: One of the most sensuous dance forms of Rajasthan, performed by the Kalbeliya snake-charmers community.
Another devotional form of dance practiced by the Kamad community of Pokhran and Deedwan, to honour their folk hero, Baba Ramdeo, it consists of women sitting on the floor before his image.