Sonny Watson's Homepage
Ballrooms | Blog| Burlesque | Contests | Dances | Dancers | Dance History | Marathons | Movies | Music | Posters Store | Sheet Music | Troupes || Refresh Page
History Index HomePage
Music Lists: Contemporary WCS| Trad'l WCS| C/W Swing| Big Band| Disco| Gospel| Holiday| Hustle| Late Night| Latin| Latin WCS| Mash-Ups| NC2S| Techno
You Are here: Search Streetswing Site Site Search --->

1889 Illustrated London News: aA Bayadere dancer

    In India the dance has been one of the chief forms of religious expression since the beginning of time. Originally, All through the East dancing was performed by professional hired women or boys, who go through their evolutions in order to afford pleasure to the spectators. There were very few steps, and the movements are mainly from the waist upwards; but the bayadères, nautchees (temple dancers), or Maikos were considered the true dancers; every part of their body lends itself to some expression, arms and hands, as well as eyes and features.

    In the wealthy pagodas there belonged whole Indian tribes of female dancers, called bayadères, the word originating from the Portuguese balladiera; in Hindustani they are called Devadási and Japan Maiko or Guéchas (geisha). The bayadères are responsible for the cleaning of the temple, and they must dance twice daily at least before the idol.

    The first dance is an expiation rite for their own sins; the second symbolizes an intercession for the forgiveness of their neighbors sins. This "corps de ballet" is recruited by the priests, and mostly among the daughters of the weavers; the girls are called divine spouses, and join the community at the age of nine. It behooves the ancient bayadères to instruct the novices not only in the dance, but in singing, reading, and writing. Once the bayadère is consecrated as a 'divine spouse,' she cannot return to her family: she belongs body and soul to the pagoda, which feeds, dresses, and lodges her for life.

The Bayadères was a religious Oriental dance of India. The dancers/ singers were called a Bayadères or TEMPLE DANCERS, while non-Temple dancers were known as Tavaifs. In Indian belief, Tavaifs were married to trees and flowers and Temple Dancers were married to the deity (a god) and were labeled as 'devadasi' (a servant of God), later Temple dancers would be known as Bayadères.

    If a family had too many daughters they could marry them off to the temple, which they could return later and become an heir which at the time only males could do and they (Bayadères) could even adopt children. This was so accepted at the time that no respectable wife in India would admit to ever being trained to sing ...

note ... Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, states:
The angels said to Lot: 'There are players of the pipe (organ) in the country, hence it ought to be destroyed'. It's rabbinical identification with the aboda, the flute of the notorious Syrian Bayaderes.
(p. 460, Abingdon).

    INDO-CHINA - 800 AD: Chinese and Indian mix. (Including Siam and Cambodia).
The Indian and Chinese cultures met here but the Indian is much more fluent except in costume (pagoda type, prachadee headdresses etc.) with masks sometimes worn by villains. Double jointed elbows turn inside out and wrist turn back again. The dance is performed in the Hall of the Dance before a palace or temple. (also see Oriental dance)

    The Bayaderes who danced in the temples of India, performed these religious exercises with chaste and cautious movements; but the Bayaderes were divided into two classes: Those who are not consecrated to the temple dance in the palaces for the amusement of the maharajahs; they were artists in their way, maintaining a special attitude, and were regarded with respect. They were very well-informed, poets and musicians, and as an accompaniment to their dances they extemporize songs and set them to music; copper castanets were used by many of them. The Hindu Egyptian dancers were called Almèh.

    Some of the bayadères Nautchees are covered with diamonds and other precious stuffs; their gowns were very ample and full, after the fashion of the gowns used to-day in the 'skirt-dances;' there is also a great display of scarves. The music was soft, and occasionally consisted of viols and tam-tams; the dancers wear anklets of bells, and the movement of their body was of a special undulating kind, impossible to describe and equally impossible to imitate. The nautchees had the right to go where they choose, and they were even allowed to enter the palaces of the princes, to sit down in their presence, and to talk to them freely.

    Men also danced in India; they are called Cathacks (Kathak (see Joanna Meinl), and are between eighteen and twenty years old. Just like the bayadères, their performances consist of graceful poses and of scarf movements, and they are dressed in magnificent costumes.

also see: ... Bayaderes Page Two


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

India ?2nd century? n/a Eastern religious dances

Night Clubs



n/a 1877 - Maryinsky Theater (St. Petersburg) India
Adelphi Theatre (1838) Japan
The Eastern World
Mohenjo Daro
Indus valley

Films / Movies

Ballets / Stage

1915 - The Bayadere's Revenge 1705 - Les Bayaderes
1945 - 1001 Nights [DVD] 1830 - Le dieu et la bayadère (Taglioni)
1992 - La Bayadere (Royal Ballet) [DVD] 1858 - Sacountala (Lucien Petipa)
1877 - La Bayadère (Marius Petipa)
1934 - Le Reve du Radjah (excerpt)
1961 - Kingdom of the Shades
1975 - The Corsair
La Bayadères (Nureyev)



1991 - La Bayadère - The Temple Dancer 10/1952 - Theatre Arts magazine
1994 - La Bayadère $ Fenton: Pasha and Bayadere
Les Bayaderes (Catel)
$ Widows, Pariahs, and Bayaderes (Mehta)

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

Eldorado Music Hall n/a Airs de Danses des Bayadères (Catel)
Gypsy - Romany Rye Dance of the Bayaderes
Gypsy Wildcat Russian Fireworks: Dance of the Bayaderes #2 (CD)
Flower Drum Song
? and the Bayadere (Adelphi 1854)

Hindu & Other Related Dances...

Adagio Kathak (see Joanna Meinl), Kathakali naach (dance) (Rudra) Tandava
(Ananda) Tandava Kuchipudi Dance Natya Tantra
Ballet makaras Nautch Temple dances
Bharata Natayam Manipuri Nrtta Temple dances of the devadasis
Dance of The Enchantress Mantra Odissi Dance Vishnu
Djambe Dance Mime Oriental Dance
Japanese Dances Mohiniyattam Dance Raks Sharki (Belly)

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Augusta Lucien Petipa (Choreography 1858) Charles IX
Filippo Taglioni (Choreography 1830) Mari Jinishian (1001 nights) Louis XIII
Marie Taglioni (1830) Marius Petipa
Marguerite de Naverre Rudolph Nureyev

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Published Publisher
Illustrated London News n/a 6/29/1889 n/a
Les Bayaderes Charles-Simon Catel n/a Broude Brothers





Auber, Daniel F. (1854) n/a n/a Ismailovitch
Catel Nikolai Afanasievich Rusakov
Ludwig (Léon) Minkus
Simon, Charles (1773-1830)

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Geisha (Guéchas ) Nataraja (India - dance lord) Snake Charmer
Danse Manu Parasurameswar temple Sri Laksmi, Goddess of Wealth and Beauty
Hindu dance/drama Rasas (13 emotions) Vestal Virgins
Hindu India Rig Vedic Hymns Gháwázees
Japanese bayadere (Maiko) Shastriya Nritya (classical dance - India)
Krishna Shiva, (Lord of Creation - India)
manjira (Cymbals) Kathakas