Indian Classical Dance

The most celebrated art form of the Southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam is a dynamic and earthy dance style. It is, in effect, a tradition that demands of the performer - total dedication, detachment from wordly ties and a sublimation of self to the art. Bharatanatyam is a relatively new name. It was earlier known as Sadir, Dasi attam, and Thanjavur Natyam.

The contemporary form of Bharatanatyam evolved during the late 18th or early 19th century. Sadir, which was till then the domain of devadasis (girls who were dedicated to gods), reached its nadir during 1910-1930 with the degeneration of social mores. But during 1926-35, under the championship of E. Krishna Iyer, the dance regained its majesty and came to be known as Bharatanatyam.

Bharatanatyam dancers are usually women and, like the sculptures they take their positions from, always dance bent-kneed. It is an extremely precise dance style where a huge repertoire of hand movements are used to convey moods and expressions.

Bharatanatyam is vibrant and very demanding of the dancer. The body is visualized as made of triangles, one above and one below the torso. It is based upon a balanced distribution of body weight and firm positions of the lower limbs, allowing the hands to cut into a line, to flow around the body, or to take positions that enhance the basic form. A special feature of this dance form are Padams or poems on the hero-heroine theme. The tempo of these love songs is slow and each phase of the performance is crystallized into a specific mood of love.

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