Ashok Dhol

We are all familiar with the omnipresent Dhol – a musical instrument described as a double-headed drum. There is something so catchy and effervescent about the Dhol beats that no Indian occasion, wedding celebration or festival is complete without it. The man carrying the weighty Dhol and the two sticks – the Dholi - is as important as he sets the stage on fire with his Dhol beats. The irrepressible Dhol beat acts like an announcement of the excitement and festivities ahead!

First a little education about the Dhol – it is played with two sticks – the bass side uses a thicker stick called Dagga in Punjabi and the thin side called Tihli is used for the higher notes. Now we all know that dances are an integral part of all wedding celebrations. Be it the cocktail-cum-Sangeet party or the Mehndi ceremony or the Barat beating down the streets, dance and music amp up the energy to a crescendo. And no wedding ceremony and most importantly Barat can be conducted without the lively Dhol beat propelling the Baratis into a dance frenzy. However, there are certain dance styles and choreographed styles that render the best with Dhol beats. See for yourself so you can dance the beat away…

1. Bhangra dance

Vijay Bhatt Punjabi Dhol Bhangra Group

The Bhangra dance is the most vigorous, energetic and lively form of Dhol beats. Coupled with the typical wedding led Punjabi folk songs and your dance will rock the show. In fact, Bhangra songs and Bhangra dance form both respond the best to Dhol rhythm. The Bhangra dance and choreography style is based on the Kaharva rhythm that gives it a shoulder-shaking beat as it is based on four beats that keep repeating.

2. Giddha style

Vijay Bhatt Punjabi Dhol Bhangra Group

Accompanying the rigorous Bhangra is the more feminine, graceful version – Gidda which is a more modern version of the ancient ring dance of Punjab. This dance form is also heavily dependent on the Dhol beat. Typically the dance is accompanied by rhythmic clapping against the backdrop of a traditional folk song by the older women. The dance is a spontaneous, flexible and graceful expression of joy.

3. Raas Garba

Soni's School Of Garba Dance

If you are Gujarati or would like to bring in a little Gujarati touch into your wedding, how about the Dhol beats guiding you towards the graceful liveliness of the Garba dance. This dance style also lends itself beautifully to a well-rehearsed choreography and can include any number of dancers. What’s more, the Garba steps are fairly easy and basic repeated by all dancers while lightly hitting the sticks of their partners. The inner circle can be choreographed to dance the slightly more difficult steps while the outer circle can have simpler ones.

4. Bihu dance

Axis Images

Hailing from the state of Assam is the Bihu dance that again uses the energetic rhythm of the Dhol. There is a set rhythm and the Dhol is played on one side with a stick and the other side with the hand. Though this is usually a dance for agricultural festivities, you can experiment with it as an innovative inclusion into the marriage ceremonies. The dance changes as it proceeds with different tempos and improvisations.

5. Lavani dance

Wet Leaf Photography

The name comes from the word Lavanya that means beauty and is the highlight of Maharashtra. Bollywood movie – Aiyyaa – has this dance demonstrated beautifully. The dance is again very energetic and you may need a professional choreographer to help you this but it will definitely be unique! Apparently, a Lavani performance is normally centred around a man-woman relationship, now what could be more appropriate!

6. Dollu Kunitha

Jodi Clickers

For those from the South of India or enjoy a taste of it, there is the Dollu Kunitha dance from Karnataka where Dhollu is the way the locals call the Dhol and Kunitha means dance. This folk dance is performed mostly by the Kurubu community in the state and though not too popular outside, this is definitely a new entry into any wedding dance with the Dhol beats. The dance which again may need choreography and training by locals comprises a semi-circle of dancers with extremely swift and flexible movements. There is a person in the centre controlling the beat with cymbals and alternates between fast and slow rhythms.

So now, you have many dance forms that go best with Dhol beats. Let the usual and routine weddings go for the more popular Bhangra, how about a little twist with the lesser used and known Garbha, Bihu and Lavani dances. You will need to of course plan these dances and need professional help but just imagine the dance and song videos. Of course not to mention, the surprised pleasure on the guests faces when they see dances that they never knew of.

So learn from professional wedding choreographers as you prepare to dance the night away!