Bharatanatyam is one of the major classical dance of India. Bharatanatyam originated about 2000 years ago. Today it is one of the 8 forms of dance as recognized by Sangeetha nataka academy. Bharatanatyam is based upon shastras as derived by Brahma himself. Its music mainly concentrates on glorification of lord Vishnu, shiva or goddesses of hindu religion.
Dance originated long ago when people were distressed and thus prayed to brahma for relief. Brahma realizing the need of people derived the fifth veda from the existing four vedas. Great books like Natyashastra and Abhinayadarpana were born out of the vedas. Bharatanatyam bases its roots in Natyashastra, abhinayadarpana etc. In the olden days bharatanatyam was performed in temples and dancers were called ‘devadasis’. Dance was considered a divine form of art and was patronized by many great rulers like chola dynasty. The next golden period of history of bharatanatya was during nayakas and the marathas who ruled the belt of Madurai and Thanjavoor. The Maratha rulers Shahaji Tulaja and Raja Surfoji contributed immensely. From the devadasis system, bharatanatyam saw a downfall during the colonalization of the British period, later revived by great dancers like rukmani devi arundale, balasaraswathy etc.
Technique of bharatanatyam was developed under nattuvanars and devadasis. Some of the famous styles of dance are:
Other styles which were known are Balasaraswati style, padmasubramaniam style etc which combined the best styles of bharatnatyam.
Music used in bharatanatyam is Carnatic melodies of Tyagarajas, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Swati Thirunnal. In dancing music is of atmost importance is given to mood off the song with ragas and talas. The most frequently used talas in bharatanatyam are aditala, mishrachapu, rupaka and jhampatala.
Bharatanatyam costumes play an important role on stage for a performance and is a part of aharya abhinaya. Costume include kacham pothu-style of wearing a saree. Melaku, puduvai, ravikkai. In addition to this temple jewellery is used as ornaments.
Bharatanatyam has come to us passed upon by great gurus and nattuvanars like chinnaya, ponnaya, shivanandam and vadivelu who have framed the structure of the dance form. Today bharatanatyam has come to stage which was performed solely in temples. Bharatanatyam is taken forward by learned dancers and performers of todays age and has a promising future ahead.