Dance and music as ancient performing arts have always been a part of the life of Indian people. Our religious literature recognised dance as an important activity in the human search for god. The relics of earliest civilisation in India clearly demonstrate the importance of dance.
In the later period too dance remained at the forefront of all the performing arts. We learn about it from the sculptures, from the paintings, as also from numerous textual treatises on the art of dance. Music too has an old and long tradition. It has also enjoyed patronage of the people in general.
In fact the birth of music lay, in the ancient past, in the religious activities of the people – the chanting of scriptures and paying musical offerings to gods is a well documented activity. It was also discovered then that the sound produced from different parts of the human body the abdomen, lungs, throat and head -made a system by itself.
The ratios and proportions which sound patterns displayed soon developed into an order called sruti. Gradually the musical scales were standardised and laws were framed to regulate the practice of singing and instrument playing.
This allowed the evolution of melodies and a system of musical notations (raag) to come into being. In its simplest and most obvious form and meaning, a dance is the physical expression of the emotive content of music.
The pleasure of music is in the listening; the pleasure of dancing is in watching that music take a bodily shape and express its meaning in a visual experience. In the Indian literary tradition there is no dearth of critical writings on the art of dance.
Both, at the level of theory and technique, the texts provide valuable information. But the most important and also fundamental among all these works is Natyashastra. It was composed by Bharat, a sage, and its date is generally believed to fall between the 2nd century B.C. and 2nd century A.D (in all probability around the 1st century A.D.).