Bharatanatyam is the classical dance form
from the southern states of Tamil Nadu and
Karnataka in India. One of the oldest forms
of Indian Classical Dance, its origin is
traced back through the centuries to the
temples of Ancient India, where it was performed
as a ritualistic form of worship. It is
intricately bound with Hinduism, in particular
with Hindu myths and customs. Visually,
it is a dynamic style of dance, yet innately
graceful. Dance teachers called nattuvanars
and ritualistic dancers, the devadasis,
in the temples of South India have handed
down the highly cultivated art of Bharatanatyam
through the centuries.
are two explanations for the word 'Bharata'
in Bharatanatyam. One is that it is a combination
of Bhava (expression), Raga (musical mode)
and Tala (rhythm) which are important elements
in the dance form. The other theory is that
the word derives from the name of sage Bharata
who is the author of the treatise, Natya
Shastra, written in the 2nd century BC.
A large part of Natya Shastra deals with
dance and Bharatanatyam adheres to most
of the codes of this text.