Bharatnatyam Dance

Bharatnatyam Dance form is the oldest among the eight classical dance forms of Indian origin, which derives its name “Bharata” from ‘Bhava’, ‘Raga’, and ‘Taal’, and “Natyam” means Dance in the Tamil Language.
It is also said that Bharatnatyam is also named after sage “Bharata Munni”

Bharatnatyam has its origin from the soil of Tamil land when it was performed by Temple Dancers as a solo dance form, by Devadasis, due to this reason, Bharatnatyam is also known as “Dashiattam”


Bharatnatyam was also known as “Tanjore Natyam” because of the four Thanjavur teachers, known as the “Tanjore Quartet”. These four teachers were, Chinnaiah, Ponniah, Vadivelu, and Shivanandam.
The four dance teachers of Thanjavur brought the elements of the Bharatnatyam recital. They are:

  • Alarippu – It includes basic dance steps and postures, performed to seek blessings from God.
  • Jatiswaram – It includes postures and movements free from expressions, hence it is also known as the Nritta component of this dance.
  • Shabdam – It is performed to praise the glory of God with expressed words, including Abhinaya component.
  • Varnam – It includes performed dance with emotions and ecpression synced with Taal and Raag of the music, and for this reason it is known as the Nritya component.
  • Padam – It includes the emotional component, that derives from slow music and highest amount of Abhinaya (i.e. expressions), generally sad with spiritual message.
  • Jawali – It is performed with music of high tempo and speed with love lyrics in 2-3 lines.
  • Thillana – It is the last stage of Bharatnatyam which includes rythimic movements and variations, with the purest form of Nritta.

Bharatnatyam is said to manifest the Fire in a Human body with the movements resembling the Dancing Flame, and for this reason, it is also known as Fire Dance.

‘Katakamukha Hasta’ which symbolizes ‘Om’ is one of the most important mudras of this dance.

Bharatnatyam has both Aspects of Indian Dance Forms, that is it focuses on Lasya and Tandava aspects equally.

‘Ekcharya Lasyam’, which means that one performer plays different roles in one dance is one of the main characteristics of Bharatnatyam.

Bharatnatyam is known to be performed by female dancers, which faced a decline in popularity with passing years. It was revived by freedom fighter E. Krishna Iyer, who brought the dance again on the national stage, now with more males joining to perform the classical dance form.
Rukmini Devi Arundale is known to establish a global recognition of Bharatnatyam dance.
Other prominent faces of this dance are Yamini Krishnamurthy, Mallika Sarabhai, Padma Subramaniam, and Mallika Sarabhai.

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