About Bharatnatyam.

Bharatnatayam literally means the dance of Bharata (India) or it can be broken into its syllables: 

Bha– bhava or expression

Ra– raga or melody

Ta- tala or rhythm


Three main aspects of Bharatnatyam.



Is a purely technical dance based on music alone with no meaning, the dancer interprets the rhythm through executing geometrical patterns in space. It can also be described as a series of poses connected by certain pattern of movement. 

The unique technical aspect of Bharatnatayam easily attracts viewers and does not require background in Indian art in order to appreciate it. Hence, Nritta is the most popular aspect of Bhartntyam for the audience as well as for the performer. 

The training in Bharatnatyam starts from mastering the pure technique with the help of the certain systematized   movements or steps that are called adavus, which are a combination of pose, leg movements and arm, hand movements. A rhythmic sequence of adavus is called jati. A combination of pre-determined adavus is a korvai and a series of korvais is theermanam. Later on all these combinations of different steps and moments are used to form a dance item.



Is the special part of Indian dance. This is where a dancer acts out the meaning of a poem in a stylized form, the difficulty is in doing so with the rhythm and in time with the music. The dancer presents the story through her movements and gestures, expressions and poses and the most important through impersonating of the character she is depicting at the time. The acting for a solo dancer is even more elaborate as she has to show the whole story by her own or impersonate up to 3-4 characters all by her self within short period of time with no help of costume or make up. Dramatic aspect in dance is also different from theater acting, as it has to be done in stylized form. A dancer cannot show tears or other emotions in a natural way but instead she has to convincingly portray the situation through the facial expression and bodily actions without entangled in it herself. 

This is the most advance aspect of Indian dance that requires long training, knowledge of Indian mythological and devotional background and lots of experience in order to capture the attention of the audience.



Is the combination of Natya and Nritta and makes it a perfect balance between the two aspects. Nritya dance composition are easily enjoyed by the audience but require a high alertness from the dancer in order to sustain the general mood of the item and portraying the story with the passages of pure technical dance in between.


Brief history.


Bharatnatyam is considered to be one of the oldest dance forms in the world. It originated around 2 century B.C in the temples of South India, where young beautiful girls used to be married to the god and spent all their lives worshipping by perfecting their dance technique and performing this sacred dance as a part of the temple ceremonies.

It is difficult to believe how old this dance form really is but the best proof can be the Natya Shastra, which is the oldest known treatise on dance. It was written somewhere around 500 BC to 500 AD and is describing in detail the complicated technique of already existent at that time form of entertainment which was prestigious and honorable in society.

No doubt, that Hindu temples played the greatest role in developing and preserving this dance form for many centuries. The arts, including music and dancing were flourishing supported by the wealth and status of the temples, which were centers of the socio-cultural life at that time. Devadasis or dancers were respected and influential figures in the society and no social occasion or temple ritual would be performed without their participation. 

With the decline of the temple support and due to the change in the hereditary nature of this profession, the dance form had moved from the temples to the courts and its content changed into more entertaining and erotic.  This change brought the dance form to a downfall and as British colonization with its own moral values grew stronger, the dance became socially unacceptable and dancing girls even more so.

Fortunately, a growing number of dance enthusiasts interested in rescuing the dance form from degradation grew and thanks to those families of devadasis and natuvanars (dance teachers) who managed, within their family traditions, to preserve this beautiful dance. Today this art form has moved to the stage and gained image of highly stylized refined classical art form. Its popularity grows every day and it has already long ago spilled out of the boundaries of Indian borders and is being enjoyed, practiced and learned by dancers and dance lovers all over the world. 


Uniqueness of the style.


Bharatnatyam is a virile and forceful dance form, its beauty lies in its strength and it uses the gravity as the bases for most of its technique. There are no big leaps or jumps there are no fast continues rotating movements. Its technique emphasizes the rendering of the rhythm through feet movements and projecting specific poses within a given rhythmic cycle. So, as I see it, Indian dance technique is not about covering the space but about covering the time  – to achieve the perfect pose with the perfect sense of rhythm. Most of the movements have beginning and ending point most of the lines of the poses are parallel, most of the movements and compositions are symmetrical. The whole idea of this dance form is in harmony and beauty of the symbolic poses.



14 Responses to “About”

  1. Sveta Says:

    Interesting page,fantastic photos.Keep going!

  2. sangeethas Says:

    Hi! Oxana added your blog to my blogroll. Will organize it as a database a little later. That seems to need some thinking….

  3. Oxana Says:

    Thanks a lot Sangeetha!

  4. Preeti Says:

    very interesting…more details should be given in the history..

  5. Oxana Says:

    Thank you for your comment Preeti.
    You are right, the history of Bharatnatyam and Indian classical dance in general is very long and rich with events, names and facts. I will definitely try to write more about it, so far my idea of this blog is to attract people to the ideas of Indian Classical dance in a brief and easy way.

  6. durva kulkarni Says:



  7. Oxana Says:

    Thank you Durva – I really appreciate your comment and suggestion. I will look into expanding the history of Bharatanatyam and also will post some links to other sites referring to this subject.


  8. jhgdsgdk Says:

    nice pg…….
    must say

  9. niahad v v Says:

    Its really intrstg…very useful for those people who didnt know about the history of bharatanatyam…will u plzz add some more things in the brief history…

  10. Shriya Venkatesh Says:

    Helpful with my project

  11. mangai Says:

    Excellent. Nice description.

  12. Natalie Bergen Says:

    Very well put together. If i may ask when did you write this piece or last edit it? I ask because i am doing a report on Bharatnatyam and would love to use this as a source.

  13. Sreejaya Says:

    Very Good Information About Bharatnatyam and Photos also very nice.I will ask to my students to read this article.Thank you so much for Sharing this Informative Article and Keep on Share like these articels

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