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Bharatnatyam

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The Dance

Its a Classical Dance of South Indian State of India (Tamilnadu) - Bharatnatyam. Its a reincarnation of the 20th century dance form called Cathir - the art of temple dancers.The word Bharata, signifies the author of the famous Sanskrit treatise on stagecraft, called NatyaShastra. The word Bharatanatyam gets its etymology as :Bha for Bhava or abhinaya and expression, Ra for raga or melody, and Ta for tala or rhythm.


Bharatnatyam works on the lines of Natya Shastra It is cosidered to be the fire - dance, depicting the mystic presence of the fire God in the human body. Thus a Bharatnatyam dancer depicts the moveemnts of a dancing flame. Contemporary Bharatanatyam is rarely practiced as Natya Yoga, a sacred Hindu meditational tradition.

As per the Hindu mythology the whole universe is the dance of the supreme dancer, Natraja - the name of the Hindu Diety Shiva. Bharatnatyam follows this mythology of praying the whole universe through the celebration of the beauty of the materialistic body.

The Kings or the rulers used to invite temple dancers or the Devdasis (Servants of God),to dance in their courts. A Devadasi had to satisfy her own soul while she danced unwatched and offered herself (surrendered) to the Lord. This lead to the formation of a new Clan called the Rajnartaki (The Royal Dancer).The Rajnartakis dance was meant for the entertainments of Kings, Queens and the Lords.

Facets of Bharatnatyam :
Bharatnatyam Dancer
Bharatnatyam
Bharatnatyam is a classical dance from Tamil Nadu in South India. It is also known as art of temple dances.NatyaShastra is the main book written about the dancing style of Bharatnatyam.

Bharatnatyam Dancer Costume
Costume of Bharatnatyam Dancers
The devdasis used to wear a specially crafted heavy saree, which restricted to dance mudras or movements. The bharatnatyam costume depicts the materialistic world.


Stages Of Bharatnatyam Dance
The Dance Form of Bharatnatyam

In the proper form, Bharatnatyam is a Solo Dance, with two major aspects - Lasya - the graceful feminine lines and movements and the tandava - the dance of Lord Shiva - masculine aspect. This form of dance is identical to the Chinese YIN and YANG.

The famous four dancers Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu of the Tanjore Court, during the rule of Maratha King Saraboji II (1798- 1832), made a rich contribution to music and Bharatanatyam and also completed the process of re-editing the Bharathanatyam. today what we see is amajor portion of what is written by the above four. Krishna Iyer and Rukmimi Devi Arundale too were instrumental in giving shape to the modern form of Bharatnatyam.


Techniques of Bharatnatyam Dance

  • Abhinaya or Natya - The dramatic story telling.
  • Nritta - pure dance - Different rythms of the Universe.
  • Nritya - Combination of Natya and Nritta.
  • Karanas - 108 key poses and transitions.
  • Hasta Mudras - Different hand gestures as a way of communicaiton.


  • Javaha (Agility), Sthirathvam (Steadiness), Rekha (graceful lines), Bhramari(balance in pirouettes), Drishti (glance), Shramaha (hard work), Medha (intelligence), Shraddha(devotion), Vacho (good speech), and Geetam (singing ability) are the TEN QUALITIES which are required in a Bharatnatyam Dancer.


    Costume of Bharatnatyam Dancers

    The Costume of a Bharatnatyam Dancer does not cover his whole body. The idea is to get the Aura of the body in the materialistic world.
    In Bharatnatyam, usually Carnatic style of South Indian Music is used. For the music the mridangam (drum), nagaswaram (long pipe horn made from a black wood), the flute, violin and veena are used.
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