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Bharatanatyam- Indian Classical Dance

Bharatanatyam Classical Dance- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 1: Indian History- Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

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Bharatanatyam Classical Dance

  • There are eight forms of dance that are recognized as classical dance by Sangeet Natak Academy. Bharatanatyam Classical Dance is one of them.
    • Sangeet Natak Academy is a National Level Academy for Performing Arts set up by the Government of India.

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Bharatanatyam Classical Dance- Origin

  • About: Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest (around 2000 years old) forms of classical dances which originated in the temples of South India, particularly, Tamil Nadu.
  • Role of Devadasi: Devadasi Tradition in south Indian temples kept the Bharatanatyam dance alive for centuries hence, also known as
    • Devadasis were young girls ‘gifted’ by their parents to the temples and who were married to the gods.
    • The devadasis performed music and dance as offerings to the deities, in the temple courtyards.
  • Associated Literature: The origin of the Bharatanatyam dance can be traced to the sage Bharata Muni’s Natyashastra.
    • Abhinaya Darpana: It was written by Nandikesvara around the 4th – 5th century BCE. Abhinaya Darpana is the main source that helps in the study of the technique and grammar of body movement in Bharatnatyam Dance.
    • Sangam works like Silappatikaram and Manimekalai also contains traces of Bharatnatyam Dance.

Vande Bharatam Nritya Utsav


Bharatanatyam Classical Dance- Key Features

  • Bharatnatyam dance is composed of three important features- Nritta(pure rhythmic aspect), Natya (play aspect like hand gesture and facial expressions), and Nritya (a blend of rhythmic dance and dramatic expression of emotion).
  • Performance: Bharatanatyam Classical Dance was originally performed exclusively by female temple dancers but now both men and women perform Bharatanatyam Dance.
    • In Bharatanatyam, rich make-up and bright ornaments are used, which accentuate the facial expressions and gestures of the performers.
    • Ekaharya: Bharatanatyam is also known to be Ekaharya, where one dancer takes on many roles in a single performance.
    • Hastas or Mudras: They are the Gestures used in Bharatanatyam Dance.
    • Karanas: They are the poses that are used in the Bharatanatyam Dance.
  • Proponents of the Bharatanatyam dance: Few contemporary Bharatnatyam Artists include- Mrinalini Sarabhai, Shobhana, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Padma Subrahmanyam, etc.
  • Use of Classical Carnatic Music: Carnatic music accompanied by instruments such as flute, violin and the Mridangam are used in the Bharatnatyam dance.



Bharatanatyam Classical Dance- Pattern of Bharatanatyam

Bharatanatyam Dance follows the following pattern in a systematic way-

  • Alarippu: there is an invocation song. Alarippu (to adorn with flowers) is the first dance item. It is an abstract piece combining pure dance with the recitation of sound syllables.
  • Jatiswaram: It is a short pure dance piece performed to the accompaniment of musical notes of any raga of Carnatic music.
    • Jatiswaram has no Sahitya or words but is composed of adavus which are pure dance sequences – nritta.
    • They form the basis of training in Bharatnatyam dance.
  • Abhinaya or mime aspect of dance: the nritya, where the dancer expresses the Sahitya through movement and mime.
  • Shabdam: It follows the jatiswaram in a Bharatnatyam dance performance. The accompanying song is generally in adoration of the Supreme Being.
  • Varnam: It is the most important composition of the Bharatnatyam repertoire, encompasses both nritta and nritya and epitomizes the essence of this classical dance form.
    • The dancer here performs complicated well-graded rhythmic patterns in two speeds showing the control over rhythm and then goes on to depict in a variety of ways, through abhinaya the lines of the Sahitya.
    • This portrays the dancer’s excellence in abhinaya and also reflects the endless creativity of the choreographer.
    • The varnam is by far one of the most beautiful compositions in Indian dance.


Vande Bharatam Nritya Utsav

Vande Bharatam Nritya Utsav

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