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Bharathanatyam

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Bharathanatyam is the oldest of all the Indian classical dances. The contemporary form of Bharatanatyam evolved during the late 18th or early 19th century. It was earlier known as Sadir, Dasi attam and Thanjavur Natyam. It was revived, after its decline during 1910-1930, as a result of the efforts of individuals like Chinniah, Ponniah, Vadivelu and Sivanandam - known as the Tanjore Quartet - and others like E. Krishna Iyer. Bharatanatyam is a solo, lasya type of a dance, which is tender and erotic. It is usually performed by female dancers and, although based on a love theme, is devotional in character. Bharatanatyam has three components: movements, mime and music. Bharatha in itself stands for bhava (mood), raga (music), and tala (rhythm) and Natyam stands for nritta. It is evenly divided into absolute dance and expressive dance.

A typical Bharatanatyam performance includes Ganapati Vandana - a traditional opening prayer to Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles; Alarippu - a pure dance without any meaning or expression just accompanied by the syllables of the performer and set to the thala (beat). This acts as an invocation of the Gods for the dance's flowering and successful completion; Jatiswaram - a pure dance without meaning, idea or expression, set to the thala instead of syllables.

It is composed of a complex set of footwork, abhinaya and fascinating body movements; Shabdam - an expressional dance with a small, delightful prelude and few abstract and more pure dance movements. The poem or song is of devotional, heroic or amorous theme; Varnam - the longest, most elaborate and most challenging piece of a performance, with jatis alternating with lyrical passages, often describing the longing of a heroine for her lover; Padam - expressive pieces that give the dancer full scope to demonstrate her talent for abhinaya and Tillana - the final item which is in the form of pure and abstract dance. It is entirely governed by the scintillating musical score and incorporates intricate footwork and complex poses.

A Bharatanatyam performance is generally concluded with a chanting of a shloka as benefaction. The music is of Carnatic style and the accompanying instruments are thala, mridangam, nagaswaram or flute, violin and veena. Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada are the traditional languages of Bharatanatyam. Famous Exponents: T. Balasaraswati, Rukminidevi Arundale and Shanta Devi are the legendary danseuses of Bharatanatyam. Renowned contemporary Bharatanatyam dancers include Yamini Krishnamurthy (also of Kuchipudi), Sonal Mansingh (also of Odissi and Kuchipudi), Indrani Rehman, Padma Subramaniam, Vijayantimala Bali, Leela Samson, K.R.S.Prasanna, S.Sarada, Alarmel Valli, Malavika Sarukkai, Viji Prakash, Chitra Visweshwaran, Sudharni Raghupati, Srekala Bharat and others.


||Introduction||  ||Classical dances|| Folk/Tribal Dances| |Modern Dances| |Great Dancers & Choreographers||
|Kathak||Kathakali||Kuchipudi||Odissi| |Manipuri| |Mohiniattam|

 


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