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About Bharatanatyam

Legend has it that a Sage Bharata authored the Natyashastra upon the request of Lord Indra, the King of the heavens. The Naatya Shaastra is a monumental treatise on dramaturgy. This treatise is the basis of Bharatanatyam, and other Indian classical dance forms.

Bharatanatyam is considered to be named after Sage Bharata himself. Coincidentally, the word Bharatanatyam is an acronym for Bhaava - emotion, Raaga - melody, Taala - rhythm, and Naatyam - drama. It incorporates aspects of Nritta (rhythmic movement), Nritya (interpretative and narrative in conjunction with the musical element) and Naatya, their harmonious confluence. In the words of the famed dansuese Balasaraswati, "It is an artistic yoga (Natya yoga) for revealing the spiritual through the corporeal. When dancing to the beat of the rhythm, as in a yoga exercise, the dancer's body is rid of its human weaknesses and is purified into a conduit of the spiritual and the beautiful."

In its early days, the practice of Bharatanatyam was confined to the temples, where the Devadasis or temple dancers alone were permitted to dance. After years of social and political upheavals, reformers like Rukmini Devi Arundale revived it and broke the confines of the dance form, thus re-establishing its lost glory.


"“Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion. ” -Martha Graham


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