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Bharatha Naatyam or Bharatanatyam or in Tamil: பரதநாட்டியம் is a classical dance form originating in Tamil Nadu.It is a famous dance that is practiced throughout South India by predominantly young females and women.It is like a National dance of India.

Bharata Natyam is considered to be a 'fire dance' — the mystic manifestation of the metaphysical element of fire in the human body. It is one of the five major styles (one for each element) that include Odissi (element of water), Mohiniattam (element of air), Kuchipudi (element of earth) and Kathakali (element of sky). The movements of an authentic Bharata Natyam dancer resemble the movements of a dancing flame. Contemporary Bharata Natyam is rarely practiced as Natya Yoga (popularly known as 'Dance Yoga'), a sacred meditational tradition, except by a few orthodox schools. -(from Wikipedia)

Bharata Natyam proper is a solo dance, with two aspects, lasya, the graceful feminine lines and movements, and tandava Ananda Thandavam (Tamil) (the dance of Shiva), masculine aspect, which is identical to the Yin and Yang in the Chinese culture. -(from Wikipedia)

This dance has its inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram and dis always accompanied by the classical Carnatic music.

A Bharata Natyam performance lasts about two hours and includes six or more of the following parts (as received from Wikipedia) :
  1. Allarippu - A presentation of the Tala punctuated by simple syllables spoken by the dancer. This really is sort of an invocation to the gods to bless the performance.
  2. Kautuvam - Ancient temple dance item performed in the beginning of the recital, containing rhythmic syllables sung for jathis.
  3. Ganapati Vandana - A traditional opening prayer to the Hindu god Ganesh, who removes obstacles. See also Pushpanjali
  4. Jatiswaram - An abstract dance where the drums set the beat. Here the dancer displays her versatility in elaborate footwork and graceful movements of the body.
  5. Shabdam - The dancing is accompanied by a poem or song with a devotional or amorous theme.
  6. Varnam - The center piece of the performance. It is the longest section of the dance punctuated with the most complex and difficult movements. Positions of the hands and body tell a story, usually of love and the longing for the lover.
  7. Padam - Probably the most lyrical section where the dancer "speaks" of some aspect of love: devotion to the Supreme Being; or of love of mother for child; or the love of lovers separated and reunited.
  8. Stuti - Hymn in praise of a deity that may contain a feigned mockery, etc. See also Stotra
  9. Koothu - Item containing a lot of dramatic elements.
  10. Javali - Javalis are relatively new, pure abhinaya types of compositions of light and pleasing nature. Like Padams the underlying theme of Javalis is Sringara Rasa depicting the Nayaka-Nayaki bhava.
  11. Thillana - The final section is a pure dance (nritta) when the virtuosity of the music is reflected in the complex footwork and captivating poses of the dancer.
  12. The performance concludes with the chanting of a few religious verses as a form of benediction.

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