Classical Dance in India : Bharatnatyam
Bharatanatyam, is the oldest Indian classical dance form originated in the Tanjore district of tamil Nadu and regarded as the mother of many other classical dance forms of India. Firstly, it was initiated in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu and eventually flourished in South India. It was performed with excellent footwork and impressive gestures and it includes nrita, nritya and natya.
Bharatnatyam Dance - Bha- Bhavam (means expression), Ra- Ragam (means music), Ta- Talam (means beat or rhythm) and Natyam (means dance) in Tamil. Bharatnatyam was performed by certain families of Tanjore district and these inheritors were known as ‘Nattuvans’.
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Bharatnatyam is one of the most popular classical Indian dances. Bharatnatyam is more popular in South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Bharatnatyam dance is almost 2,000 years old. It is believed that Bharatnatyam was revealed by Lord Brahma to Bharata, a famous sage who then codified this sacred dance in a Sanskrit text called the Natya Shastra. The Natya Shastra is one of the fundamental treatises on Indian drama and aesthetics. Natya Shastra divides dance into two distinct forms- nritta, and nritya. In nritta, focus is on mastery of abstract hand gestures and movements, whereas the dancer employs a complex system of hand signals and body language to depict emotional expressions in nritya.
Bharatnatyam was associated with Devadasi Culture
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With the origination of temples in Tamil Nadu, Bharatnatyam soon became an important part of South Indian temples around 300 BCE to 300 CE. Temple dancers are known as Devadasis, who were dedicated to serve the Lord as dasis or servants, performing the dance form and became an important part of rituals in South Indian temples.
Music & Instruments
The music of Bharatanatyam is based on Carnatic classical music. The chief musical instruments in Bharata Natyam are the 'Mridangam' and a pair of cymbals. Sometimes Veena, Violin, Ghatam and Flute are also used. The verses recited during performance are in Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu.
The costumes of the dancer are very gorgeous, which consists of 'Paijama' or Dhoti and jacket of Kanchipuram silk and Banaras silk. Women wear a tight fitting 'Choli' or bodice of the same colour and material as the dhoti.