Bharatanatyam is one of the most popular genre of Indian classical dance that has its roots in the state of Tamil Nadu. This dance form is one of the oldest classical dance traditions of India. Epics and Sculptures have references to Bharatanatyam dating it back to nearly 2000 years. This dance form is noted for its expression of Indian religious themes, stories and mythical ideas particularly of Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism.
The style of the dance is distinct for its fixed upper torso with legs bent, flexed out knees and a classic low squat position. The movements are in conjunction with facial expressions, gestures of hands, postures- movement of head, shoulders and neck and body language. The use of sign language, muscles of the face and gestures of hands (11 mudras), expressions and sign language makes this dance spectacular.
The Bharatanatyam artists dresses up in colorful sari that is draped in a specific dance style. She adorns jewelry, hair ornaments and performs in synchronization with Indian Carnatic music . This music is a combination of voice, strings, percussion and flute.
Bharatanatyam is an amalgamation of ‘Bhava’ meaning expressions, ‘Raga’ meaning music and ‘Tala’ meaning rhythm. ‘Natyam’ means dance ; thus ‘Bharatanatyam’.
Bharatanatyam has seen history like no other dance form. From the theatrical foundations in in Natya Shastra and Tamil epic ‘Silappatikaram’ to its decline and ban under colonial rule and the anti dance movement in 1892 to its revival, expansion and transition outside temples to this day - Bharatanatyam today, is synonyms with Indian classical dance and continues to be highly respected and recognized form of dance.