Kalbeliya Dance

About Kalbeliya Dance

Kalbeliyas are a wandering tribe of gypsies native to the regions of Barmer, Jodhpur, Ajmer, and Jaipur in Rajasthan who traditionally have been snake charmers and traders of snake venom. Their ancestors enthralled the members of royalty by performing an array of tricks with the serpents, an exercise which later transformed into public shows at local fairs and bazaars. The dance form these snake charmers have evolved over time is intricately linked to their lifestyle and history in terms of the sinuous, reptilian moves that characterize it, the musical instrument involved and the hypnotic emotion of the performance. The Been, an Indian wood wind instrument, whose strains range from the plaintive to the seductive, is synonymous with snake charming and provides the characteristic music for a dancer to strut her moves too. The beats of the Dhap or the Dafli a flat-plate like percussion instrument struck with finger and palms accompany the Been. The dancers traditionally wear a black ensemble comprising of an ankle length skirt embellished with silver filigree, a mid-thigh length top and a dupatta (loose flowing stole) pinned to their heads. Jewelry, made out of tiny matted pearls and silver hangings, beautifully adorns the black of the costume. Several tassels formed of braided thread and colored cloth hang from the elbows, waist, and back and as the dancer swirls, taking one round after another at an almost unbelievable speed, the tassels jut out horizontally from her from adding to the dynamism and allure of the performance.  Sexually charged yet graceful sways of the hip and the waist are typical to this dance form and also, many acrobatic moves demonstrating the flexibility and agility of the performers are employed as punctuation. The mystical and hauntingly incisive notes of the Been stay with one long after a show is over.


Kalbeliya Dance Photos

Kalbeliya Dance Video

Kalbeliya Dance Album