Bharatanatyam – Classical Indian Dance Forms
Bharatanatyam, a pre-eminent Indian classical dance form presumably the oldest classical dance heritage of India is regarded as mother of many other Indian classical dance forms. Conventionally a solo dance performed only by women, it initiated in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu and eventually flourished in South India. Oct 13, · Bharathanatyam is a type of classical Indian dance, which is based on very old traditions and it is nowadays performed all over the world mostly by people of Indian heritage, but not only. So, it has become a truly global dance form. I have never practised Bharatanatyam, but I have seen it performed in Cardiff by dancers trained by Indiadancewales.
Last Updated on October 13, Bharathanatyam is a type of classical Indian dance, which is based on very old traditions and it is nowadays performed all over the world mostly by people of Indian heritage, but not only. So, it has become a truly global dance form. I have never practised Bharatanatyam, but I have seen it performed in Cardiff by dancers trained by Indiadancewales. Although you need extensive knowledge of Hindu traditions, mythology and literature in order to understand Bharatanatyam fully, I could still appreciate its beauty, grace and expressivity.
The event I attended was community and family-oriented and performers were not professionals, but local girls who were performing for family and friends. One day I would like to see a professional performance live, but I still appreciated what I saw and it was great to be in such a supportive environment for the dancers.
So, what is Bharatanatyam? Below I will give some background information for those who would like to find out more about it. It was originally called Sadeer Attam or Sadir and it was performed solo by devadasiwho were women dancers and priestess, as a form of prayer connected with the practice of Hinduism. Devadasi used to dance and sing, to propitiate deities. When the Muslim Mogul invaded India, in the 13 th century, many devadasi were taken to mogul harems. In the south of India, the practice of temple dancing continued but the status of devadasi gradually diminished.
The practice almost totally disappeared following the anti-nautch campaigns of the s movements aimed at abolishing the tradition of Indian dancing girls. During that time India was a British colony and the British wanted to eradicate this type of dance in an attempt to repress Indian culture, but also because they saw the dance of the devadiasi as immoral. The Victorian British associated devadiasi dancers with prostitution. This was a misconception, but it was also due to the fact that in Hinduism sex was not considered sin and eroticism was starbucks cup costume how to make element of the dance.
It was only in the early 20th century that sadir was rediscovered and promoted again under the name of Bharatanatyam. The rediscovery of Bharatanatyam happened following nationalist movements in India and thanks to an increase in waht between western and Indian artists.
Thus, it became not only respectable but also desirable for middle and upper-class Indian women whether resident in India bharatantayam of Indian descent to practice it. Bharatanatyam became a symbol of Indian identity and the preserve of middle and upper classes. As Bharatanatyam had almost disappeared by the early 20 th century, it was resurrected using ancient manuscripts, sculptures and memories.
Three figures were key in the redevelopment of Bharathanatyam and in its becoming a worldwide phenomenon. One bharatanwtyam E. Krisna Iyeran Indian lawyer and artist who tried to ks this dance form popular. Rukmini Devi Arundale was an American-Indian dancer, married to a British man and she belonged to the brahamin caste. She was active in India and in America in the first half of the 20 th century, between and She also contributed to the revival and the reconstitution of Bharatanatyam.
She was trained in western classical ballet and in clazsical Tanjore court style of dance, which she learnt from the guru Meenkshi Sundaram Pillai. This is why she juxtaposed Bharatanatyam and balletto create a classical framework and aesthetic for the former. Rukmini Devi then funded her world-famous school, known as Kalakshetra. Tanjore Balasaraswati lived from until classicak she came from a lineage of devadasi practitioners, going back to the 19 th century.
However, she was never a traditional devadasi as she was not a dedicated temple dancer, even though her debut was in a temple. Her family had practiced in the court of Tanjavur but her mother bharstanatyam grandmother were musicians rather than dancers. Balasaraswati was a key figure in the revival of Bharatanatyam.
She was well known worldwide, she traveled often to the USA to teach and perform and she worked with the Madras Music Academy. Bharathanatyam is characterized by basic positions, the main of which is the ardhamandaliin which the dancer stands with feet sideways and knees classlcal sideways, similar to a ballet demi-plie. Basic steps are called adavus. Bharathanatyam involves many hand gestures, called mudra.
The feet are very dynamic and move following staccato phrases, in contrast to the detached and relaxed upper body.
The aesthetic of Bharathanatyam is based on geometry, in particular, the human body is seen as geometric ideal both in its static and moving forms. The main principles are:. In addition to the principles above, symmetry, harmony, virtuosity and lack of apparent effort are important for a successful performance. Bharathanatyam traditionally is a solo female dance, but now it is often performed in groups and by men as well. Originally it was improvised, but improvisation requires a great deal of practice ia knowledge of the mythology and texts, as well as a lot of training and performance experience, so many dancers nowadays use choreography.
A performance normally includes sections of nrittain classival the feet move energetically following the rhytm, alternated to nritya sections, which are more clzssical and in which articulated hands gestures and facial expressions become the protagonist. Bharathanatyam is a highly technical and codified dance genre, which originally was transmitted from guru to disciples over many years and took a very long time to master.
Nowadays people learn it in schools and they learn a variety of styles, while in the past each dancer used to specialise in specific and distinct traditions, each with its own stylistic rules and contents, according to the one followed by her guru. The music used for Bharatanatyam is Carnatic music from southern India, what is a naid number has fast and syncopated rhythms.
Traditionally, Bharatanatyam performances used to follow a specific structure and certain sequences that nowadays are not always adhered to.
Especially when it is performed outside of India, Bharatanatyam performances are divided in sections, each followed by a verbal explanation of the lyrics of the song. This format was introduced by Ram Gopal in the s. In the UK, a contemporary dance artist who started as a Bharatanatyam choreographer and practitioner is Shobana Jeyasingh. She was born in Chennai and was trained in Valluvoor style of Bharatanatyam.
She started performing solo Bharatanatyam but without narrative, as she prefers nritta and pure abstract forms in dance. As her career progressed, she started producing choreographies that were more and more influenced by western contemporary dance. From this how can we stop habitat destruction, she has borrowed elements such as group choreography, floor work, physical contact between dancers, curving and rotation of the back.
In Chennai, and precisely in the nearby temple town of Chidambra, every year in February takes place the Natyanjali Dance Festival. Chennai is the capital of the Tamil Nadu state, the region of origin of Bhratanatyam. Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Email address:. Facebook 7 Pin 0 LinkedIn 0. Indian Bharatanatyam traditional dance. Table of Contents. Bharatanatyam Kavadi Chindu. Bharatanatyam Dances of India. Buy on Amazon. The following two tabs change content below. Bio Latest Posts. I also teach belly dance and love callus remover how to use travel to discover new dances around the world. I have worked also as an academic and in the UK and in Korea.
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Bharata natyam, (Sanskrit: “Bharata’s dancing”) the principal of the main classical dance styles of India, the others being kuchipudi, kathak, kathakali, manipuri, and odissi. It is indigenous to the Tamil Nadu region and prevalent in southern India. Bharata natyam serves the expression of Hindu. Aug 09, · Bharatanatyam, is the oldest Indian classical dance form originated in the Tanjore district of tamil Nadu and regarded as the mother of many other classical dance forms of India. Bharatnatyam Dance. Bharatanatyam is a classical dance style of South India that combines artistic expression with a sense of spirituality. There are highly trained dancers who perform precise hand gestures, use intricate footwork, vivid facial expression, and fluid movement.
Bharatanatyam , also previously called Sadhir Attam , is a major form of Indian classical dance that originated in Tamil Nadu. It has been nurtured in the temples and courts of southern India since the ancient era. Description of Bharatanatyam by 2nd century CE is noted in the ancient Tamil epic Silappatikaram , while temple sculptures of 6th to 9th century CE suggest it was a well refined performance art by the mid-1st millennium CE.
Bharatanatyam content some types of banis. These are named according to the village of the guru with the exception of some banis. Bharatanatyam style is noted for its fixed upper torso, bent legs and knees flexed Aramandi combined with spectacular footwork, and a sophisticated vocabulary of sign language based on gestures of hands, eyes, and face muscles. Bharatanatyam remained exclusive to Hindu temples through the 19th century.
The word Bharata is a mnemonic, consisting of "bha"—"ra"—"ta". The compound word Bharatanatyam thus connotes a dance that harmoniously expresses bhava , raga , tala. The theoretical foundations of Bharatanatyam are found in Natya Shastra , the ancient Hindu text of performance arts.
More direct historical references to Bharatnatyam is found in the Tamil epics Silappatikaram c. Many of the ancient Shiva sculptures in Hindu temples are the same as the Bharatanatyam dance poses. For example, the Cave 1 of Badami cave temples , dated to 7th-century,  portrays the Tandava -dancing Shiva as Nataraja. Some colonial Indologists and modern authors have argued that Bharatanatyam is a descendant of an ancient Devadasi literally, servant girls of Deva temples culture, suggesting a historical origin back to between BCE and CE.
With the arrival of the East India Company in the 18th century, and British colonial rule in the 19th, many classical Indian dance forms were ridiculed and discouraged, and these performance arts declined. In , the Madras Presidency of the British Empire altogether banned temple dancing, and with it the Bharatanatyam tradition within Hindu temples. The ban triggered powerful protests against the stereotyping and dehumanization of temple dancers.
Krishna Iyer , a lawyer and someone who had learnt the Bharatanatyam dance, questioned the cultural discrimination and the assumed connection, asking why prostitution needs years of learning and training for performance arts such as the Bharatanatyam, and how can killing performance arts end any evils in a society? While the British colonial government enforced laws to suppress Bharatanatyam and all Hindu temple dances, some from the West such as the American dancer Esther Sherman moved to India in , learnt Indian classical dances, changed her name to Ragini Devi, and joined the movement to save and revive Bharatanatyam and other ancient dance arts.
The Indian independence movement in early 20th century, already in progress, became a period of cultural ferment and initiated an effort by its people to reclaim their culture and rediscover history.
In late 20th century, Tamil Hindu migrants reintroduced the Bharatanatyam traditions of temple dancing in British Tamil temples. Bharatanatyam is traditionally a team performance art that consists of a solo dancer , accompanied by musicians and one or more singers. The theory behind the musical notes, vocal performance and the dance movement trace back to the ancient Natya Shastra , and many Sanskrit and Tamil texts such as the Abhinaya Darpana. The solo artist ekaharya in Bharatanatyam is dressed in a colorful sari , adorned with jewelry who presents a dance synchronized with Indian classical music.
The footwork, body language, postures, musical notes, the tones of the vocalist, aesthetics and costumes integrate to express and communicate the underlying text. In modern adaptations, Bharata Natyam dance troupes may involve many dancers who play specific characters in a story, creatively choreographed to ease the interpretation and expand the experience by the audience. The repertoire of Bharatanatyam, like all major classical Indian dance forms, follows the three categories of performance in the Natya Shastra.
The traditional Bharatanatyam performance follows a seven-part order of presentation. This set is called margam. The presentation begins with a rhythmic invocation vandana called the Alaripu. It also serves as a preliminary warm up dance, without melody, to enable the dancer to loosen their body, journey away from distractions and towards single-minded focus. The next stage of the performance adds melody to the movement of Alarippu , and this is called Jatiswaram.
The drums set the beat, of any Carnatic music raga melody. They perform a sequence Korvai to the rhythm of the beat, presenting to the audience the unity of music, rhythm and movements.
The performance sequence then adds Shabdam expressed words. The solo dancer, the vocalist s and the musical team, in this stage of the production, present short compositions, with words and meaning, in a spectrum of moods. The performance thereafter evolves into the Varnam stage.
A traditional Varnam may be as long as 30—45 minutes or sometimes an hour. Varnam offer huge scope for improvisation and an experienced dancer can stretch the Varnam to a desirable length. The artist presents the play or the main composition, reveling in all their movements, silently communicating the text through codified gestures and footwork, harmoniously with the music, rhythmically punctuated. The dancer performs complicated moves, such as expressing a verse at two speeds.
The Padam is next. The music is lighter, the chant intimate, the dance emotional. The performance sequence ends with a Tillana , the climax. Therewith the performance ends. The seventh and final item in the sequence can be either a Shlokam or a Mangalam. The dancer calls for blessings on the people all around. The overall sequence of Bharatanatyam, states Balasaraswati, thus moves from "mere meter; then melody and meter; continuing with music, meaning and meter; its expansion in the centerpiece of the varnam; thereafter, music and meaning without meter; We see a most wonderful completeness and symmetry in this art".
The attire of a Bharatanatyam dancer resembles a Tamil Hindu's bridal dress. It consists of a fitted, brilliantly colored Sari which is mainly of warm colors with mirrors on them. The Sari is made of a specially stitched pleated cloth which falls in front and opens like a hand fan when she flexes her knees or performs footwork. The Sari is worn in a special way, wrapped upwards along the back and tightly to the body contour, past one shoulder, with its end held at the waist by a jeweled belt.
The dancer is typically adorned with jewelry on her ear, nose, and neck that outlines her head or hair. Her face has conventional makeup, eyes lined and ringed by collyrium , which help viewers see her eye expressions. She wears one or more leather anklets ghungroos. The outlines of the dancer's fingers and feet may be partially colored red with kumkum powder or alta , a costume tradition that helps the audience more easily view her hand and foot gestures.
The accompanying music to Bharatanatyam is in the Carnatic style of South India , as is the recitation and chanting. The instruments used include the mridangam double-sided drum , nadaswaram long type of oboe made from a black wood , nattuvangam cymbals , the flute , violin and veena.
Bharatanatyam, like all classical dances of India, is steeped in symbolism, both in its abhinaya acting and its goals. The roots of abhinaya appear in the Natyashastra text, which defines drama in verse 6. The communication through symbols is in the form of expressive gestures and pantomime set to music. The gestures and facial expressions convey the ras sentiment, emotional taste and bhava mood of the underlying story. The gestures used in Bharatanatyam are called Hasta or mudras. These symbols are of three types: asamyuta hastas single hand gestures , samyuta hastas two hand gestures and nrtta hastas dance hand gestures.
In nritya stage of Bharatanatyam, these symbols set in a certain sequence become sentences with meaning, with emotions expressed through facial expressions and other aspects of abhinaya. Bharatanatyam contains at least 20 asanas found in modern yoga , including Dhanurasana the bow, a back-arch ; Chakrasana the wheel, a standing back-arch ; Vrikshasana the tree, a standing pose ; and Natarajasana , the pose of dancing Shiva. Bharatanatyam rapidly expanded after India gained freedom from the British rule in It is now the most popular classical Indian dance style in India, enjoys high degree of support in expatriate Indian communities, and is considered to be synonymous with Indian dance by many foreigners unaware of the diversity of dances and performance arts in Indian culture.
When the British tried to attempt to banish Bharatanatyam traditions, it went on and revived by moving outside the Hindu temple and religious ideas. However, post-independence, with rising interest in its history, the ancient traditions, the invocation rituals and the spiritual expressive part of the dance has returned. In , an estimated 10, dancers got together in Chennai , India, to break the world record for the largest Bharatanatyam performance.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Major form of Indian classical dance. A 7th century Shiva in Karnataka. Bharatanatyam has helped to inspire musicians, poets, painters, singers and sculptors in Indian history. The purpose Bharata Natyam is an art which consecrates the body The traditional order of Bharata Natyam recital viz. Example mudras — gestures as symbols in Bharatanatyam. Play media. This is a post-performance, where a Sanskrit verse Shloka is danced out in a form of nritya.
The Guru is the pathway to Supreme Brahman supreme soul , to you the auspicious, I reverentially bow. Indian Ballet Dancing. New Jersey: Abhinav Publications. South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia. ISBN Traditions of Indian Classical Dance.
India: Clarion Books. Between Theater and Anthropology. University of Pennsylvania Press. Lochtefeld The Rosen Publishing Group. Wesleyan University Press. Teaching Dance as Art in. Human Kinetics. Oxford University Press. Beck University of South Carolina Press.
Quote: "A summation of the signal importance of the Natyasastra for Hindu religion and culture has been provided by Susan Schwartz, "In short, the Natyasastra is an exhaustive encyclopedic dissertation of the arts, with an emphasis on performing arts as its central feature.
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