Monday, February 1, 2010


Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form originating in Tamil Nadu, India. One of the oldest of the classical dance forms in India, it is also known as the fifth Veda. It has its inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram located near Pondicherry. Bharatanatyam is usually accompanied by the classical music. It has its inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram. Bharatanatyam, as the name depicts is the combination of:

BHA- Bhava (Expression), RA- Raga (Music) and TA- Tala (Rhythm) Bharatanatyam is a traditional dance-form known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and sculpturesque poses. Today, it is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by many dancers all over the world.

The Basics Of Bharatanatyam (3N)
Bharatanatyam is generally referred to have three distinct streams or aspects:
1. Nritta
2. Nrittya
3. Natya

Nritta is pure dance or sequences of dance that are non interpretative in nature. This means that these steps, movements or gestures are not meant to convey any message or thought. They are primarily meant to add beauty to the dance form.

Nrittya on the other hand is an interpretative dance and involves a lot of sentiments, emotions and description. The gestures in this stream convey messages like depicting a king, indicating that it is morning time etc. This consists of leg, hand, neck, head and eye movements to convey the message.

Natya is dance drama and its main technique is Abhinaya. It involves acting out a story for the audience using expressions. Also the actors may dress like the character. Natya is usually performed with a mythologial theme, like on the stories of Ramayana or Krishnaleela, etc. For eg. This would involve enacting parts of Ramayana or Mahabharata.

A distinctive feature of Bharata Natyam Dance is the use of expressive hand gestures as a way of communication. Hastas refers to the varieties of hand symbols that a dancer can use. Many of these hand gestures are well known.

There are two types of Hasta Mudras: Asamyuta and Samyuta (single and combined, respectively).

There are 28 Asamyuta Mudras which are: Pataka, Tripataka, Ardhya-pataka, Kartari-mukha, Mayura, Ardha-chandra, Arala, Shukatundaka, Mushti, Shikhara, Kapittha, Kataka-mukha, Suchi, Chandra-kala, Padma-kosha, Sarpa-shirsha, Mriga-shirsha, Simha-mukha, Langula, Sola-padma, Chatura, Bhramara, Hamsaya, Hamsa-paksha, Samdasma, Mukula, Tamrachuda, and Trishula. Note that hand "mudras" are usually spoken in sanskrit (which is the proper language, used for saying the gestures in the Kalakshetra style).

There are 24 Samyuta Hastas which are: Anjali, Kapota, Karkata, Svastika, Dola, Pushpaputa, Utsanga, Shivalinga, Kataka-Vardhana, Kartari-svastika, Shaktata, Sankha, Chakra, Samputa, Pasha, Kilaka, Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Garuda, Nagabandha, Khatva, Bherunda, and Avahittha.

Adavus in Bharatanatyam:

Tatta Adavu (8)
The word Tatta literally means “to tap”. In this adavu, we are taught the Bharatanatyam way of leg tapping. This adavu involves only the use of legs unlike most other adavus.The Bol for Tatta adavu is “tai ya tai hi"

Natta Adavu
“Natta” means to stretch and so the Adavu involves some stretching .Natta adavu involves heel contacts of the feet. Thus word “Nattu” in Tamil is also referred to “Perching of heels”.The bols (sollukattu) for this Adavu is “tai yum tat ta tai hi ya ha