23 March 2010

Bharatnatyam....a visual embodiment of music!!!!

One of the oldest classical dance forms in India originating in Tamil Nadu, Bharatnatyam is a dance form accompanied by classical music consisting of various poses filled with grace, purity & tenderness. Its name is derived from a combination of BHA- Bhava (Expression), RA- Raga (Music) and TA- Tala (Rhythm).

This traditional Indian dance form was first inspired from the sculptures of the ancient temples of Chidambaram particulary depicting the God Nataraja. Also contributing to its origin, were the sculptures & poses in Hindu temples & the description in various Hindu scriptures. Since it has mythological overtones, Bharatnatyam as a dance form set to Carnatic music was considered to be the ultimate embodiment of music in visual form, an act of devotion performed by 'Devadasi's' in temples.

Also called the fire-dance, the dance form manifests the metaphysical element of fire in the human body, thus resembling a dancing flame. It is actually a solo dance with two aspects, LASYA, the graceful feminine lines and movements, and TANDAVA (the dance of Shiva), the masculine aspect, which is identical to the Yin and Yang in the Chinese culture.

The credit for its worldwide popularity in recent times, goes to Rukmini Devi Arundale who founded the Kalakshetra school outside the city of Madras. She was instrumental in introducing new aspects to it by including men in the dance compositions & removing the erotic aspect of the dance form, making it more puritan & acceptable.

Bharatnatyam includes a lot of karanas (transitional movements), hastas (expressive hand gestures as a way of communication), adavus (dance steps) & elaborate eye & neck movements. This combined with jewellery, costumes & music in different languages, gives this classical dance form a variation & beauty that still manages to capture peoples imagination & withstand the test of time!!!!

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