Kalbeliya Dance “Snake Charmer Dance”

One of Rajasthan’s most sensual gipsy dance forms is Kalbelia, which originates from the community of snake charmers who live in the desert of Thar in India and, for centuries, have pursued the ancient craft of capturing snakes and selling their poison. Powerful and at the same time sensual movements train and strengthen the body in an exceptional way. The movements of this dance resemble those of snakes: swirling, sensual gestures of the body and hands, waving of the hips and the extraordinary use of the arms and hands. The dancers are dressed in large skirts with ethnic designs that sway with the accompanying “Poongi” (an ethnic trumpet) and the “Dufli” the wind instrument used by snake charmers.

In the quiet of the evening, in the desert of Thar in Rajasthan, the day ends with a rhythmic dance. Rajasthan’s dwellers, live life to the full: after working hard under the inexorable sun on the rough and rocky desert land, they seek rest from their labour and let themselves be carried away in a serene abandonment. Their evocative and full-bodied music is the perfect accompaniment for their vigorous and sophisticated dances.

Through vibrant, dynamic, graceful but also powerful martial steps, Rajasthan’s dance and music evoke the desert in all its aspects. This is the best tribute to the spectacular beauty, the pulsating sinuousness, the brutal hardness of the landscape and the vigour and the strong character of the people living in this ancient Land of Kings.

Maya Swati Devi introduced these dances to the Italian public and is the only Kalbeliya professional and Rajasthan gipsy dances dancer and teacher in Italy. She studied with Suva Devi (who starred in the movie ‘Latchodrom’), Gulabi Sapera and Sayari Sapera. She studied this dance form for over a decade and has been teaching it since 2007.