- Poetry in Motion
Bharathanatyam is the most popular classical
dance forms of South India, which is believed to be originated in Thanjavoor
of Tamil Nadu nearly 2000 years ago. This dance form was originally
practised and performed in South Indian temples by Devadasis (servants of
god) and it was known as Daasiyattam or Sadir. This dance form has received
great patronage during the golden rule of the Maratha and Chola rulers.
During the Mughal rule this temple dancing has
started declining and the Devadasis stopped receiving any kind of patronage.
In the advent of British rule many dancers acted like prostitutes in order
to earn livelihood. Thus Bharathanatyam dance has been considered as a cheap
profession in the latter half of the 19th century and the first half of the
Bharathanatyam has gained a new life and
respectability by activists and dancers like Rukmini Devi and E.Krishna Iyer.
Rukmini Devi started the institution Kalakshetra in 1936, and since then
there has been a wave of reform. Some of the famous Bharatanatyam performers
are Bala Saraswathi, Mrinalini Sarabhai, Rugmini Arundel, Kamala Laxman,
Padma Subrahmaniam and Chithra Visweswaran. Efforts of these great people
and other poets revitalized the traditional beauty of this popular form of
Indian Classical dance.
The name Bharathanatyam is made up of Bha, ra,
tha and natyam, where as Bha = Bhava or expression, Ra =
melody, Tha = Talam or rhythm and natyam = Dance. This dance form is based
on Adavu (steps) and Hasthamudra (hand gestures). There are 64 basic Adavu
which are divided into 9 parts, on which Thattadavu, Naatadavu,
Kuthithumettadavu, Mandiadavu, Sarikkal and Thattumettu are very important.
Communication is done through bhavabhinaya (facial expression) and
hasthamudra (hand gestures).
The Bhartanatyam is a combination of Aralippu,
Jathiswaram, Shabdam, Varnam, Padams, and finally the
Aralippu (invocation) - The performance starts with the prayers to God
Ganapati and worship of Nataraja Moorti.
Jathiswaram, Shabdam (notes and lyrics
combinations) The dancer executes patterns with a chosen time cycle and a
melody that reveal the architectonic beauty of the form. The torso is used
as a unit, the legs are in a semi-pile form and the stance achieves the
basic posture called araimandi.
Varnam (pure dance and expression), Padams and
Javalis (light items and erotic) The dancer performs to a poem, whose
theme is from Indian mythology, the epics or the Puranas. It is performed
through different facial expressions and the body movements reacting to the
emotions which evokes rasa, the sentiments in rasikas, the spectators.
Thillana (pure dance) The concluding part which
is an abstract item and does not convey any specific meaning. Here the
dancer creates varied forms of staggering visual beauty for the joy of the
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