Tuesday, 26 June 2012



Bharatanatyam is a classical dance of India, which finds its roots in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It is believed that Bharatanatyam is mainly a renewal of Cathir, the ancient art of temple dancers. The dance form has been named after Bharata Muni, the author of the Natya Shastra (ancient treatise on classical Indian dance). The word Bharatanatyam is composed of three terms, Bha meaning Bhava or abhinaya (expression), Ra meaning raga (melody) and Ta meaning tala (rhythm).

The oldest of all the classical dance forms in India, Bharatnatyam is also known as the fifth Veda. In the ancient times, it used to be performed by the Devadasis in the temples of Tamilnadu as 'dasiattam'. The postures of the Bharata Natyam dance of India have served as an inspiration for the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples.The postures of the celestial dancers depicted in the scriptures were given the name of Bharatanatyam Mudras on earth.The spirit of Bhakti has been deeply ingrained in Bharata Natyam and it mainly features mythological stories. 

The philosophy behind the dance is to search the human soul and unite with the Supreme Being. In the dance form of Bharatanatyam, the artists make use of beautiful hand and eye movements to convey the message. It is more of personification of the music in a visual form.

The credit of bringing Bharatnatyam to its present form goes to the famous quartet of Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu of the Tanjore Court. The various forms of the dance, like Alarippu, Jathiswaram, Sabdham, Varnam and Tillana, were also introduced by them. Even the first dance teachers of Bharatanatyam in Tanjore were the descendants of these four brothers only.

With time, the devadasis of the temple turned into narthakis of the royal court. The original technique and themes of     Bharatnatyam were modified to suit the new demands. The sacred connotation of the dance form was sacrificed to make it amenable to the entertainment needs of the kings.

The person responsible for once again raising the social status of Bharatanatyam is Krishna Iyer. He also                 contributed positively to the popularity of the dance form throughout the world. Another name that comes in mind in     connection with this is that of Rukmini Devi Arundale. She modified the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam and popularized it in the West. Rukmini founded the Kalakshetra School in 1936, outside the city of Madras, in order to     teach the dance form as well as to promote it. Today, Bharatnatyam has become an integral part of a girl's  upbringing in Tamil Nadu.

      The major techniques of the classical dance form of Bharatnatyam include
Abhinaya (The art of story-telling)
Nritta (Pure dance movements, usually performed as an opening)
Nritya (Combination of Abhinaya and Nritta)

A typical Bharatnatyam performance includes: 
Ganapati Vandana (Opening prayer to the Lord Ganesha)
Alarippu (A presentation of the Tala with simple syllables by the dancer)
Jatiswaram (An abstract dance with drumbeats)
Shabdam (Dance accompanied by a devotional poem or song)
Varnam (Main performance in which dance is punctuated with complex and difficult movements. A story is told through movements)
Padam (Lyrical section where the dancer speaks)
Thillana (Pure dance with complex footwork and captivating poses)

 Today Bharata Natyam is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by male and     female dancers all over India. Due to its wide range of movements and postures and the balanced melange of the     rhythmic and mimetic aspects lends itself well to experimental and fusion choreography. Degree and Post Graduate courses covering the practice and theory of Bharata Natyam as well as the languages associated with its development are available at major universities of India.


  1. Bharatanatyam is one of the most famous dance in India. This post gives great idea on Bharatanatyam. Also visit UrbanPro.com and find the best dance tutor in your locality UrbanPro

  2. Dance is a powerful impulse, but the art of dance is that impulse channeled by skillful performers into something that becomes intensely expressive and that may delight spectators who feel no wish to dance themselves.Professional Classes in Hyderabad



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