Chau dance is a vibrant, colourful and vigorous form of dance drama emerging from martial practice. Chau dance is popular among the indigenous people of Chotonagpur Plateau region. Seraikella Chau is popular in Jharkhand; Mayurbhanj Chau is popular in Odisha while Purulia Chau is popular in the western plateau regions of West Bengal. Chau dance was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. The dance is believed to date back to over a century, though the specifics of its origin cannot be definitely ascertained. Rhythmic drum beatings, powerful acrobatic movements and somersaults are characteristics of the Purulia Chau dance. The contemporary dance style has evolved over period of time. Chau performance in the villages of Purulia start at late night, at around 9 or 10 pm and goes on for hours, with the dance gaining momentum with progression of night. In earlier times, the performance area used to be illuminated by torches that burnt throughout the night. Over the years the dance has undergone evolutions in form, stagecraft, lighting and use of musical instruments. Physical twist and turns and acrobatics are essential part of Chau that attracts audience. The dance commences with invocation of Lord Ganesh, where after the movements follow the nuances of the story. The plays are performed in open areas. Chau dance portrays triumph of good over evil. The stories are based on the mythological tales that propagates moral and ethical values.
Total 1973 artists from Purulia are covered under the RCCH initiative.