Communication is the main and important aspect of classical dance.
Abhinaya is common to all Classical Indian dances. The expression, which is shown to express poetic meanings, is Abinaya.
Here the emphasis is more on facial expressions than rhythmic movements. Abhinaya is the expressional aspect of dance.
There are four kinds of Abhinaya:
1. Angika (of limbs) 2.Vachika (of speech) 3.Aharya (of costumes) 4. Sattwika
Abhinaya has been analysed in the Natya Shastra and has been categorized into four types:
1. Angika or physical
Meaning is conveyed through body movements, including hastamudras (hand gestures), mandis (postures) and even the
walk of the dancer. It is named as such because it is expressed in Three ways by anga, pratyanga and upanga.
Angika Abhinaya- Anga: Head, hands, chest, sides (flanks), waist (hips) and feet are called angas. Many include
neck also among these.
- Pratyanga: Shoulder blades, arms, back, belly, thighs (calves) and shanks. Many add three more; wrists, elbows
and knees combined, and neck.
- Upanga: Scholars include shoulder as upanga and according to Abhinaya Darpana, eyes, eye-brows, eyeballs, cheeks,
nose, jaw, lips, teeth, tongue, chin, and face are also called upangas. Thus, upangas in the head are twelve. The other is
ankles, toes and fingers. As mentioned in the Natya Shastra Upanga is only six.
The angas, pratyangas and upangas are to be used in every dance.
When an anga (major part) moves, the pratyanga and upanga also move.
2. Vachika vocal/verbal
It is used formally today by members of the orchestra or supporting, non-dancing cast.
3. Aharya or external
It is expression, mood and background as conveyed by costume, make-up, accessories and sets: Dress and the appearance
of actors. Costume is a very essential feature of a dance and there is costume for every character taking part.
Abhinaya plays a secondary but important role in the dance-drama. It aids the presentation of a performance.
4. Sattwika or psychological
This is the representation of eight psychic conditions. These eight conditions are motion-lessness, perspiration,
horripilation, and change of voice, trembling, change of colour, tears and fainting.
It is shown particularly by the eyes and as a whole by the entire being of the performer, who feels the mood, the
character and the emotion as emerging from the self, not as an act or practical presentation.
Owing to their distinctive and deep-seated nature, the eight conditions form a separate branch of the Abhinaya.
But in spite of this possible distinction it cannot be denied that the sattwika abhinaya has every chance of degenerating
into the angika abhinaya when the nata lacks the genius as well as proper training in his art.