Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest dance forms of India and was formatted and documented as a performing art in the 19th century by four brothers known as the Tanjore Quartet. This art form is handed down under devadasi system. Nowadays this is performed by men and women all over India. It has a wide range of movements and postures and also draws from experimental and fusion choreography.
These highly talented artists and the male gurus (nattuvanars) were the sole repository of the art until the early 20th century when a renewal of interest in India's cultural heritage prompted the educated elite to discover its beauty. By this time the Devadasis had fallen upon evil days due to lack of state patronage and changed social mores. The revival of Bharatanatyam by pioneers such as E. Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi Arundale brought the dance out of the temple precincts and onto the proscenium stage, retaining its essentially devotional character.
Today Bharatanatyam is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by male and female dancers all over India. Due to its wide range of movements and postures and the balanced mélange of the rhythmic and mimetic aspects lends itself well to experimental and fusion choreography. Degree and Post Graduate courses covering the practice and theory of Bharatanatyam as well as the languages associated with its development are available at major universities of India.
Bharatanatyam is the manifestation of the ancient idea of the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the material body.
There are 30 Asmyutha Hastas in Bharatanatyam, which are Pataka, Tripataka, Ardha-pataka, Kartari-mukha, Mayura (Peacock), Ardha-chandra (Half-Moon), Arala, Shuka-tundaka (Parrot face), Mushti, Shikhara, Kapittha, Kataka-mukha, Suchi, Padma-kosha, Sarpa-sirassu (Serpent Head), Mriga-shirsha (Deer Head), Simha-mukha (Lion Face), Langula, Ala-padma, Banam, Chatura, Bhramara, Hamsasya, Hamsa-paksha, Samdamsha, Mukula, Tamrachuda, Urnanabha, Trishula (Trident), Chandra-kala.
Kathakali literally means story-play (katha-kali). The story is literally played or danced with the entire body using a complex and codified gestural language. The themes of most of the stories are taken from the Mahabharatha and Ramayana epics. The actors have the most important role in Kathakali. They play the stories in accordance with the lyrics and rhythms of the songs (known as Kathakali padangal) sung by the musicians. Two percussion instruments Chenda and Maddalam are used for the background support. In some scenes another percussion instrument known as Idayka is also used. Lyrics of the stories are written by famous poets with suitable Raaga (tune) and Thaala (rhythm).
- ABOUT US