About Bharata Natyam

Bharatanatyam Picture 1

    "One of the most beautiful, subtle, sophisticated and graceful dance forms in the world, Bharatanatyam is performed according to the most delicate nuances of a musical piece, or a poem, through the vehicle of a body. Reflecting the principles laid down in the Natyashastra treatises, it has survived in India in all its variegated forms and moods which it has gathered unto itself throughout the centuries." (Dr. Sunil Kothari)

    Bharatanatyam is the oldest and the most popular of the classical dance forms in India. Its origin dates back to the 4th century B.C. Like most art forms in India, Bharatanatyam has a deep spiritual base. Acknowledged as a form of yoga and of realizing Godhood, the dance originally blossomed within the temple walls, where the Devadasiís (the servants of God or temple dancers) dedicated their lives to dance and to God. Passages of time saw this art form emerging from the temple confines and embrace the greater freedom of the stage. What distinguishes Bharatanatyam from all the other Indian Classical dance forms is itís clear lines, almost geometric; its agility and lightness together with forceful footsteps, its strength, crispness and most importantly its majesty.

    The general interpretation for the name is
    BHAva(expression) + RAga (music) + TAla(rhythm) + NATYAM(dance) = Bharatanatyam

    The 3 elements of Bharatanatyam are Nritta, Nritya and Natya.

    Nritta : The emphasis is on pure dance movements, creating patterns in space and time, mostly along straight lines, triangles, circles and semicircles; without any specific intention of projecting any emotion.

    Nritya : Combination of Rhythm with Expression. The dancer conveys the meanings of a lyrical passage set to music, through stylised hand gestures, facial expressions and bodily movements.

    Natya : Dramatic Element. Performing for a theme like Ramayana, Mahabharata etc.

    The expressions which are shown to express poetic meanings is Abinaya. Here the emphasis is more on facial expressions than rhythmic movements.

    The Abinaya is divided as:

    Angikabhinaya : Expression through the limbs and body like the Head, Hands, and Legs.
    Vachikabhinaya : Expression through narrations and voice.
    Aharyabhinaya : Expression through dress, ornaments and other aids.
    Satvikabhinaya :Mental expression of feeling and emotion by facial expression and use of eyes.


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