is one of the most popular classical Indian dances. Bharatnatyam is more
popular in South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Bharatnatyam
dance is almost 2,000 years old. It is believed that Bharatnatyam was
revealed by Lord Brahma to Bharata, a famous sage who then codified this
sacred dance in a Sanskrit text called the Natya Shastra. The Natya Shastra
is one of the fundamental treatises on Indian drama and aesthetics. Natya
Shastra divides dance into two distinct forms- nritta, and nritya. In
nritta, focus is on mastery of abstract hand gestures and movements, whereas
the dancer employs a complex system of hand signals and body language
to depict emotional expressions in nritya.
Bharatnatyam dance flourished in the Hindu temples of South India. The
temple dancers (Called Devadasis or servants of god) flourished under
royal patronage and religious devotion. The Devadasi system became an
integral part of South Indian temple ritual. Slowly and gradually the
Devadasi system went into disrepute due to economic and social conditions
attached to it. The credit of reviving and popularizing the Bharatnatyam
in its present form goes to Rukmini Devi, who gave it new life and respectability.
Bala Saraswati, the queen of Bharatnatyam also deserves accolades for
her work and efforts to popularize Bharatnatyam.
present Bharatnatyam is an immensely popular classical dance form of India.
The present form of Bharatnatyam dance was evolved by Poniah Pillai of
Tanjore and his brothers. Formats of Bharatnatyam consist of Alarippu
(invocation), Jathi Swaram (note combinations) Shabdam (notes and lyrics),
Varnam (a combination of pure dance and abhinaya) lighter items like Padams
and Javalis (all erotic) and finally the thillana (again pure dance).
Bharatnatyam is considered the mother art of most of the other classical
dances of India and inspires many art forms like sculpture, painting,
Classical Dances of India