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Hamsa Gati – Gait In Hindu Classical Dance

Hamsa Gati, a gait in Hindu classical dance, is used in classical dances like Bharatanatyam (Tamil Nadu), Odissi (Odisha) and Kathakali (Kerala).

Hamsa Gati is executed by solo dancers as well as characters in dance dramas. It is usually performed in lasya mode or soft, graceful, feminine movement qualities. It is also used to indicate the graceful walk of a young, beautiful maiden.

Bharatamuni, the author of Natyashastra, an ancient Hindu text on dramaturgy and histrionics, described different kinds of gaits performed by characters taking on a variety of roles in classical dance-dramas. Hasma is the swan and gati is the gait. In any given gati, the legs lead forward while the body follows a complementary movement. Ten kinds of gaits have been mentioned in Natyashastra. They are described as steps. Some of these are steps of the deer, horse, elephant, snake and the human walk.

In Hamsa Gati, the dancer places one foot after another, half a cubit away in front on the floor. The pointed toes reach the floor first, next the stomach contracts while the body in a slightly bent position follows with the undulating movement of the spine.

The hasta or hand gesture used in hamsa mudra is indicated by fingers in both hands, one near the mouth and the other stretched behind the body. Hamsagati is usually performed as a frontal movement, but when there is a change in mood or intention, the movement is performed in different directions.