Natya Leela Academy
:: home :: about Natya Leela :: about Bharathanatyam :: classes :: performances :: support :: links :: press :: contact ::

This section is under development. As a place-holder, please read the following summary of Bharathanatyam as presented by

Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form believed to be originated in Thanjavoor of Tamil Nadu in South India. As it was performed by Devadasies in temples of Tamil Nadu long ago it is also known as Dasiyattam. Basic concepts of 'Bharatanatyam' are Bhava, Raga and Thaala.Bharatanatyam derives its origin based on the theories posted in the books 'Natyasaasthram' and 'Abhinaya Darpanam'. Bharatanatyam is evenly divided between three elements Nritta, Nritya and Natya.

Nritta : Rhythmic Element. Interprets the language of rhythm with the help of body movements.

Nritya : Combination of Rhythm with expression conveys poetic meaning with the help of expressions, rhythmic postures. eg. Varna, Shabda, Pada etc.

Natya : Dramatic Element. Performing for a theme like Ramayana, Mahabharata etc

Nritta can be broadly divided into Chari, Karana, Angahara and Mandala. Movement of a leg is called Chari. Movement of both the legs is Karana. 3 Karanas make a Khanda.3 to 4 Khandas make a Mandala. 4 to 9 Karanas make a Angahara. 4 to 5 Angaharas also make a Mandala. 108 Karanas and 32 Angaharas are defined in Natyashatra. The 13 Nritta Hastas (explained later) are used to perform nritta. The rythmic body movements along with hand gestures are called Aduvus. Number of aduvus constitute a Jati Jati will generally end with a Muktaya or Teermana. There are varieties of Aduvus like Tattaduvu ,Mettaduvu, Nataduvu,Kattaduvu, Kudittamettaduvu , Maiaduvu, Mandiaduvu ,Jati ,Nadai ,Ardi .The entire body is divided as Anga, Pratyanga and Upaanga.
Anga Lakshana, the way of moving body parts, are described as: Shirobhedha - Head Movement , Greevabhedha - Neck Movement, Drushtibhedha - Eye Movement , Paadabhedha Mandala - Standing Posture , Utplavana - Leaps, Bhramari - Circling Movement ,Chari - Leg Movement, Gatibhedha - Charecteristic walks and Hastas or Mudras - Hand Movements -Asamyuta Hasta ,Samyuta Hasta ,Deva Hasta ,Dashavatara Hasta , Navagraha Hasta ,Jaati Hasta,Bandhu Hasta , Nritta Hasta .When all Angas(main body parts) coordinate (along with pratyanga and upaanga) the artist is said to have Angashudhi. Anga meaning body parts and shudhi, meaning perfect. Any dancer should try to achieve this perfection. The Natyashastra, which talks about all aspects of Bharatanatyam, quotes shlokas to perform all the above movement.

Arangetram is a tamil word. Aranga meaning raised floor and Etram meaning climbing in Tamil, one of the south Indian languages. It is also called Rangapravesha in Kannada, another south Indian language, Ranga meaning Stage and Pravesha meaning Enter. Ideally this should be the first public performance of an artist. After learning Bharathanatyam under the guidance of an accomplished guru, this is the occasion for the proud guru to present his/her disciple to the public. This is the testing time for both the guru & the shishya (disciple) as the guru's knowledge & the disciple's talent both are judged by the public. Hence, the guru will decide when the disciple is ready for public appearance. At least 10 - 12 years of training is necessary to give a commendable performance. Usually duration of an Arangetram will be 2 1/2 - 3 hours. To perform for such long hours one must have good stamina and concentration. This time is divided into two halves. In the first half the artists generally perform Pushpanjali or Alaripu ,Jatiswara, Shabda, Varna In the second half Padam ,Ashtapadi or Devaranama, Tillana , Mangala.
Copyright 2008, Subashini Ganesan, Natya Leela Academy, Portland, Oregon