Indian Classical dance and traditional dance forms are rich with "Aharya" or specific characterization of looks of each character. Indian traditional dance forms always have Drag i.e "Dress Resembling a girl " as a part of their repertoire. Below are some such forms and celebrates drag as a part and parcel of cultural/traditional art practice.
Chhau dance, also spelled as Chau or Chhaau, is a semi classical Indian dance with martial, tribal and folk traditions, with origins in eastern India. It is found in three styles named after the location where they are performed, i.e. the Purulia Chau of Bengal, the Seraikella Chau of Jharkhand, and the Mayurbhanj Chau of Odisha.However Purulia Chau has this specificity of wearing masks which are hand made with clay. all the characters are majorly performed by men. characters like Durga, Kali are put with a aggressive body language and martial arts where men dress up as women with a heavy headgear and perform Purulia chau dance. These Masks are as heavy as 6 filled water pots placed one after the other. the notion of gender is nullified on the dancing bodies of the dancers.
Gotipua is a traditional dance form in the state of Odisha, India, and the precursor of Odissi classical dance. It has been performed in Orissa for centuries by young boys, who dress as women to praise Jagannath and Krishna. The dance is executed by a group of boys who perform acrobatic figures inspired by the life of Radha and Krishna. The boys begin to learn the dance at an early age until adolescence, when their androgynous appearance changes. In the Odia language, Gotipua means "single boy" (goti-pua). Raghurajpur, Odisha (near Puri) is a historic village known for its Gotipua dance troupes.
Yakshagana is a traditional Indian theatre form, developed in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Shimoga and western parts of Chikmagalur districts, in the state of Karnataka and in Kasaragod district in Kerala that combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, make-up, and stage techniques with a unique style and form. It is believed to have evolved from pre-classical music and theatre during the period of the Bhakti movement. It is sometimes simply called "Aata" or āṭa ("the play" in Tulu Language). This theatre style is mainly found in coastal regions of Karnataka in various forms. Towards the south from Udupi to Kasaragod of Tulu Nadu region, the form of Yakshagana called as 'Badagu thittu' and towards north upto Uttara Canara it's called 'Thenku Thittu'. Both of these forms equally played all over the region. Yakshagana is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn. Its stories are drawn from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and other epics from both Hindu and Jain and other ancient Indic traditions.
Males play the female roles in traditional Yakshagana. However, more recently, yakshagana has seen female artists, who perform in both male and female roles.
The character of Stree Vesha makes use of sari and other decorative ornaments.
Manipuri dance, also known as Jagoi, is one of the major Indian classical dance forms, named after the region of its origin – Manipur, a state in northeastern India bordering with Myanmar (Burma), Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram. It is particularly known for its Hindu Vaishnavism themes, and exquisite performances of love-inspired dance drama of Radha-Krishna called Raslila. However, the dance is also attributed to regional deities such as Umang Lai during Lai Haraoba.As predominantly performed by women. the Krisha vesham is performed by women. Women would dress up in male characters dress i.e in a dhoti (also called dhotra or dhora) – a brilliantly colored broadcloth pleated, wrapped and tied at waist and allowing complete freedom of movement for the legs. The Krishna character wears a peacock feather containing crown, with a feathery attachment at the back.
Andhra Natyam comprises of Aagama Narthanam, Aasthana Narthanam and Prabhandha Narthanam. Andhra Natyam is performed by both men and women.It is derived from various dance forms including older dance styles like Dasiattam, Kacherittam and Chinnamelam. It has strong similarities with Bharatanatyam. Though it originated in temples, it was also performed by the courtesans known as kalavantulu in Telugu. Open-air public performances known as Kalapam (Navajanardhana parijatham) are a part of Andhra Natyam. When andranatyam was coined by late Guru Nataraja Ramakrishna, He worked on the nuances of the form on a Male body where a male dancer would dress up in women role to perform. This was led by his disciple Sri KAla Krisha who later developed the style to present with female impersonation.
Kuchipudi is one of the eleven major Indian classical dances. It originated in a village named Kuchipudi in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi is a dance-drama performance, with its roots in the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text of Natya Shastra.For centuries Kuchipudi was performered by men only which enabled the tradition for them perform in female roles. A specific performance,such has Bhamakalapam, where men dresses up as Satya Bhama wife of Krishna and enacts with exaggerated femininity and grace to present realism as a woman.
Kathakali (Malayalam: കഥകളി) is a major form of classical Indian dance. It is a "story play" genre of art, but one distinguished by the elaborately colorful make-up, costumes and face masks that the traditionally male actor-dancers wear. Kathakali is a Hindu performance art in the Malayalam-speaking southwestern region of India (Kerala).As Kathakali was predominantly performed by men for ages the female roles were also being gracefully presented by Men. they would dress up in Stri Vesham and would enact the role of a women. Performances such as Soorpanakayam is where the male performer would balance masculinity and feminitu to present the character of Soorpanaka.