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About Bharatanatyam

Bharatanatyam is one of seven classical Indian dance styles that developed in different regions of India over the last three thousand years. All of
these styles
share organizing and aesthetic principles, codified in the Natya Shastra, the ancient Sanscrit text on dramaturgy
(circa 500 BCE).
 
Bharatanatyam originated in the temples of Tamil Nadu as a part of ceremonial worship. It was reconstructed as a performing art for the stage
during the last century, particularly during the period 1920–1960. The defining feature of Bharatanatyam is the
alternation between
dramatic expression, or abhinaya, and crisp, fast-paced, pure dance movements. Abhinaya is a stylized language of facial expressions, hand postures, body positions, and movements that enables the dancer to tell detailed stories and evoke a wide variety of emotions.

Many of the classical Bharatanatyam pieces tell the stories of the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, but the dramatic possibilities of abhinaya also provide contemporary choreographers with a means of expressing new narratives.


 



        The dancing foot, the sound of tinkling bells,
        The songs that are sung and the varying steps,
        The form assumed by our Dancing Gurupara—
        Finds out these within yourself,
        Then shall your fetters fall away.
              
     Tirrukuttu Darshana (16th Century)
     From The Vision of the Sacred Dance
Madhavi performing at Marundeeshwara Temple in Chennai