Ankle bells – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Dancewear & Costumes Glossary

I. What are ankle bells?

Ankle bells, also known as ghungroo or payal, are musical instruments worn around the ankles during dance performances. They consist of small metal bells attached to a string or chain that can be tied around the ankle. Ankle bells are commonly used in traditional Indian dance forms such as Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and Odissi, but they can also be found in other cultures around the world.

The sound of ankle bells is produced when the dancer moves their feet, creating a rhythmic jingling noise that adds an extra layer of music to the performance. Ankle bells are not only a musical instrument but also a decorative accessory that enhances the visual appeal of the dancer’s movements.

II. How are ankle bells used in dance?

Ankle bells play a crucial role in Indian classical dance forms, where they are used to accentuate the rhythm and beat of the music. The sound of the bells helps the dancer stay in sync with the music and adds a dynamic element to their performance. In addition to enhancing the auditory experience, ankle bells also serve a visual purpose by drawing attention to the dancer’s footwork and movements.

In traditional Indian dance, ankle bells are worn by both male and female dancers. The number of bells on each anklet can vary, with some dancers wearing a single row of bells while others wear multiple rows for a louder, more resonant sound. The placement of the bells on the anklet can also differ, depending on the specific dance style and choreography.

III. What are the different styles of ankle bells?

There are several different styles of ankle bells available, each with its own unique sound and design. Some ankle bells are made of brass or copper, while others are crafted from silver or gold for a more luxurious look. The size and shape of the bells can also vary, with some bells being small and delicate, while others are larger and more ornate.

In addition to traditional metal bells, there are also ankle bells made of materials such as beads, shells, or fabric. These alternative styles of ankle bells produce a softer, more muted sound compared to metal bells, making them suitable for different types of dance performances.

IV. How are ankle bells made?

Ankle bells are typically handmade by skilled artisans who specialize in crafting musical instruments. The process of making ankle bells involves shaping and soldering metal pieces together to create the bell shape. The bells are then polished and coated with a protective finish to prevent tarnishing and corrosion.

The bells are attached to a string or chain that can be tied around the ankle, allowing the dancer to move freely while wearing the bells. Some ankle bells feature adjustable straps or clasps to ensure a secure and comfortable fit during performances.

V. How to care for ankle bells?

To keep ankle bells in good condition, it is important to clean and maintain them regularly. After each use, wipe the bells with a soft cloth to remove any dirt or sweat that may have accumulated. Avoid exposing the bells to moisture or harsh chemicals, as this can cause them to tarnish or corrode over time.

Store ankle bells in a cool, dry place when not in use to prevent them from getting damaged or scratched. It is also a good idea to periodically check the strings or chains that hold the bells in place to ensure they are secure and in good condition.

VI. How to choose the right ankle bells for your dance performance?

When selecting ankle bells for a dance performance, consider factors such as the style of dance, the size of the bells, and the material of the bells. Choose ankle bells that complement the music and choreography of the performance, and that are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Experiment with different styles and designs of ankle bells to find the ones that best suit your personal preferences and performance needs. Whether you prefer the traditional sound of metal bells or the softer tone of fabric or bead bells, there are ankle bells available to suit every dancer’s individual style and aesthetic.