Thursday, 5 May 2011

Bharatanatyam history

History and Origin of Bharatnatyam

Bharatnatyam is an artistic yoga that involves the movement of the body parts in a very artistic and elegant manner. It is the most widely practiced of Indian classical dances in south India, and has it's origin in Tamil Nadu. The term Bharatnatyam was introduced in the mid thirties by S. Krishna Iyer and later spread by Rukminidevi Arundale. It comprises of Bhava,Raga, Tala, and Natya put together as Bharatanatyam.

Natyashastra is often reffered to as the Bible of Indian classical dance. It is said that the Gods and Godesses pleaded Brahma [the creator, as per Hindu Mythology] for the creation of another Veda, that was understandable by common man. So, Brahma created the fifth Veda, which is a combination of the existing four vedas [ Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva Veda]. He propogated this veda on earth through Sage Bharatha, who wrote it down as Natyashastra. Brahma took pathya [ words ] from the Rig veda, Abhinaya [ communicative elements of the body movements] from the Yajur Veda, Geeth [ music and chant] from the Sama Veda, and Rasa [vital sentiment, an emotional element] from Atharva veda, to form the fifth veda - the Natya Veda. Bharatha, together with groups of Gandharvas and Apsaras performed Natya, Nrtta, and Nrtya before Lord Shiva [the Lord of Devine Dance]. Thus Natya became the authoritative form of classical Indian dances. The term "Bharatnatyam" partly owes it's name to Sage Bharatha.

The Natyashastra reads, "when the world had become steeped in greed and desire, in jelousy and anger, in pleasure and pain, the Supreme one (Brahma) was asked by the people to create an entertainment which could be seen and heard by all, for the scriptures were not enjoyed by the masses, being too learned and ambiguous." The creation of Natyashastra is very important in the kaliyuga (the age of destruction of the world, as per Hindu mythology).

Centuries ago, there were many dancers - priestesses in the Hindu temples in south India, called Devadasis. They would sing, dance and play many musical instruments. They were well versed in Sanskrit and other languages. Since these dancers were called Devadasis, Bharatnatyam was originally called Dasi Attam. In the olden days, the Devadasis were not allowed to have families, as they led a very strict life.

Once these dancers started performing in the Royal Courts, they were called Rajanarthikas. Gradually, in the first half of the 19th century, Bharatnatyam was revitalised and redifined by the contributions of four talented brothers, known today as the Tanjore Quartet; Chinnaiah (1802), Ponniah(1804), Sivanandam(1808), and Vadivelu(1810). The Tanjore Quartet organised all the basic Bharatnatyam movements of pure dance into a progressive series called Adavus. They composed new music specifically for Bharatnatyam and introduced a different sequence of items that brought out the various aspects of dance and music. In the 20th century, the founder of Kalakshetra, Rukminidevi Arundale, restored the social status and the image of Bharatnatyam. By passing the art of dance from generation to generation, it has acquired the many forms such as the Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, and many more.

The compositions of the Tanjore Quartet were in praise of the following rulers:

1. Pratapa Simha {1739-1763}
2. Thulaja {1763- 1787}
3. Amarasinha {1787-1798} 4. Sarabhoji {1798-1833}
5. Shivaji {1833- 1855}

They also contributed towards other affairs such as ,
1. Reshaping the art of Bharatia into concept form for the first time.
2. Evolving the primary syllabus for teaching dance and classifying the Adavus.
3. Evolving the present concert pattern for Sadir Katcheri.


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