Bharatanatyam: The origination of the art form

Bharatanatyam is one of the popular classical and traditional dances of India, originating from Balasaraswati which is nothing but diversification of Natya Yoga. Balasaraswati brings forth into the practice the spiritual semblance through synchronized physical and emotional body movements. Bharatnatyam has rich history of the style almost dating back to 2000 years. It is inspired from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram. The origin of Bharatnatyam is in Thanjavoor of Tamil Nadu. The alternative name of Bharatnatayam is Daasiyattam. Earlier, Devdasis performed the natya in the ancient temple. The Devdasis were women who lived their life as dancer and worship to god by paying obeisance through their dance. The traditional form passed from the one generation of Devdasis to another, generation by generation. As the dance form entered into the royal courts, the dancers were soon begin to be called as Rajanartakis, who had the expertise to perform the royal courts. Rajanartakis slowly became the royal concubines.


What is Bharatnatyam

Bharatnatyam Dance

Bharata natyam is dance form which makes use of the combination of bhava, raga, tala, and natya. It was not solely made for the purpose of seeking pleasure, but in fact, the fabulous dance form had an embodiment of several cosmic relationships and expressions (bhava) emanating from all the worlds. The dance form is pristine and has immense knowledge wherein most ignorant of the individuals will also learn. Bharata natya also emerged as the means to entertain kings and the courts by freely expressing all the moods and passions. The dance was created in the manner wherein, the mediocre, the noble as well as the mean would take on different types of forms and bring in revolutionary changes.


Bharata Natyam has Mythological Association

Lord Brahma created Panchama, or the 5 Veda or Natya Veda by seeping the information and references from four Vedas, namely Pathya (words) of Rigveda, Abhinaya (communicative elements of the body movements) of Yajurveda, Geetham (music and chant) of the Samaveda, and finally, the Rasam (vital sentiment and emotional elements) of Atharvaveda. Brahma later handed Natya Veda to revered holy man named Bharata to write and then spread the writings in the material world.


Bharata after the ordainment from Lord Brahma approached the demigods (Gandharavas and Apsaras) to help in performing natya, nritta and nrtya before Lord Shiva. Natya Shastra then came to be the basis of techniques provided for classical Indian dances, especially Bharatanatyam and Odissi, as well as Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam.


How Bharatnatyam is Performed

Every movement of Bharata natyam dance is unique and dynamic, having its own originality. Every movement of dancer is rhythmic caused as the result of simultaneous stamping of the feet, jump, pirouettes, and positions where the knees touch the floor forming a sophisticated pattern. The main feature of Bharata natyam is that the dancer tends to make beautiful straight lines or triangles as like geometrical angles. The dancer makes different weaves of a series. The dance form is always performed with knees of dancers bent. The artist will always make the movements of his/her body in the form of triangles. The step of the dance demands maintenance of equilibrium of body weight and lower limbs. Another special feature of Bharatanatyam is the movements of the eyes, which harmonize and emphasize the body movements. Bharatanatyam costumes for women bear close resemblance to the traditional Indian sari, but certainly it is not a single piece of cloth.


The attire used in Bharata natyam makes use of different combinations of dresses stitched with each other. This customized ethnic wear help to dancer easy to wear, and flawless steps. The special costume there many plated pieces, colorful and zari borders involved which enhance dancer’s beauty. The most necessary part in Bharata natyam costume is the pair of anklets (salangai in Tamil, ghungroo in Hindi). The anklets make rhythmic sound while dancer hit their feet at the floor. These anklets made dace audible. Dancer make up also plays crucial role to enhance the physical appeal. The dancer puts on red dye on finger tips, circle on palm and lines in feet. Applying the balanced make up will eventually make everything look more attractive.


Bharatanatyam is supplied by background carnatic music style. Music is composed for dance items integrate rhythmic patterns (talas) and melodies (ragas) which would otherwise gel with the theme of dance.

  • dancer092

    From : “Brahma created the the Fifth (Panchama) Veda, or NatyaVeda,
    a quintessence of the main four Vedas, by combining Pathya (words) of Rigveda,
    (communicative elements of the body movements, cf. mime) of Yajurveda,
    geetham (music and chant) of Samaveda, and rasam (vital
    sentiment and emotional
    element) of Atharvaveda. Then Brahma handed NatyaVeda to rishi
    Bharata to write it down and spread it in the material world.
    Bharata-guided the demigods (Gandharavas and Apsaras) in
    performing natya, nrtta and
    nrtya before Shiva. Natya Shastra came to be the fundamental
    authority on the technique
    of classical Indian dances, especially Bharatanatyam and Odissi, as well as Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam. Some prefer to believe the term “Bharatnatyam” owes its name
    to rishi Bharata.”

  • kiran

    I recommend chitralekha dance

  • kiran

    emma Watson

  • bhrartanatyam

    indra approached brahma and asked for the 5th natya Veda which bharatha and his 100 sons performed. Asuras got angry (demons) indra destroyed

  • Shriya Venkatesh

    Thanks!!!Really helpful for my project!!