History of Bharatanatyam

June 27th, 2007 by Anjali

Today I would like to give a brief history on how the beautiful dance form came into existence. This classical dance form originated from the state of Tamil Nadu. It has its inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram located near Pondicherry (now Puducherry). Bharatanatyam, as the name depicts is the combination of:

BHA– Bhava (Expression), RA– Raga (Music) and TA– Tala (Rhythm)

Photo Credit: Panache

Traditionally the dance was performed by Devadasis (community of temple dancers) in the ancient temples. The Devadasis were women who dedicated their lives to serving the temple deity as dancers and musicians and their performances were an inherent part of the elaborate temple and court rituals.

Somewhere around the 1930’s some surviving Devadasis such as the legendary Balasaraswati were called for stage performances by the elite educated Class. Thus Rukmini Devi was the first ever educated elite to learn this dance form under the guidance of Balasaraswati.

The present form of Bharatanatyam as we know it today has been codified and documented by four brothers Chinnayya, Ponnayya, Vadivelu and Sivanandam in the early 19th century. They are also famously known as the Tanjore Quartret. Their dance compositions form the bulk of the Bharatanatyam practiced today.

Today this is one of the popularly practiced dance forms in India. I feel that if any body is interested in the art of dance, one must actually give a thought to learning any of the classical dance forms of India. Such dances are more of DEVOTION, WORSHIP, DISCIPLINE, is SOFT and sometimes even BLISS. It is more introvert than extrovert. The younger generation of today is being continuously exposed to the hip hop by the media. I feel more exposure to classical dance forms would help them understand the very essence of DANCE.

For more information, please visit the Bharatanatyam page on Wikipedia.

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Leave A Comment

92 responses so far ↓

  • 1 varsha Apr 18, 2012 at 12:37 am

    it is very informative and good

  • 2 Anjali Apr 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    @puja, my varnam would be different from yours. So please clarify from your teacher

  • 3 deepak damodaran Apr 26, 2012 at 1:58 am

    thanks for providing such valuable information in internet

  • 4 smeetha May 6, 2012 at 4:28 am

    very good information and helped me very very much thank you!

  • 5 sri May 8, 2012 at 2:31 am

    it is very interesting for your workshop mam

  • 6 kavitasha May 20, 2012 at 6:57 am

    hi!thankz 4 tis information bcoz im doing a project bout bharatanatyam.so tis information is useful 4 me………..

  • 7 chudamani dakavarapu Jun 21, 2012 at 3:12 am

    very useful for people like me

  • 8 Khokan Saha Aug 14, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Thank you for giving information about history of bharathanatyam. My elder daughter, 9 years old has been learning dance for more than 4 years. She loves this form of dancing. I believe this site will be helpful for her. Thanks once again for the great endeavor

  • 9 Rekha tukaram Ballal Aug 23, 2012 at 10:19 am

    i love dance i m also learning a bharatnatyam i want more information in pls give more information in this professional

  • 10 saiprasad Sep 23, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Present 45 years only in college days I am also good Bharatanatyam dancer but not performed on state shows, this is our culture so, all relegion parents must have join you children in kuchpudi and bharatanatyam classes acually NRI’s doing and maintaing our traditions and cultures in their palaces but in indian recidents but not following these culture

  • 11 neha Nov 29, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    i go for the dance aswell. i am so happy know i now the history of bharanathiam.

  • 12 BHANUPRIYA Jan 3, 2013 at 8:29 am

    because i like to learn it i never got a chance to learn it but now i m practising nd learning about this dance form nd now i m very close to it.

  • 13 pranav Jan 19, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Glad to come across your blog thanks to indianbloggers.

    Such informational blog about bharat natyam :)

  • 14 Ritvika Singh Mar 19, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Hello ,, Anjali ji ,,
    ,,,,,,,,,,meri English bahut acchi nahi hai to kya aap mujhse hindi me baat kar sakti hai
    maine apki is website se bahut kuch seekha hai aur mujhe apki ye site bahut hi pasand hai main apse kai cheeje puchna chahti hu pls kya ap mujhe bata sakti hai

  • 15 shruti May 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    very nice info . i also learn bharatanatyam

  • 16 varsha Aug 14, 2013 at 5:09 am

    Hi this is varsha of class 7 in studying in chinmaya vidyalaya virigambakkam. I liked your information.I am learning dance .

  • 17 aastha rajpal Aug 14, 2013 at 7:54 am

    hi,this is really a fantastic dance as for my thinking one should try it once in her/his life.

  • 18 Sabitha Padmanabhan Aug 22, 2013 at 2:25 am

    Please let me know if you take classes in bahrain. If not can you please suggest a good kalakshetra style dance teacher for my 12 year old daughter ..I just moved to bahrain and finding it so difficult to find a good teacher.


  • 19 Vani Dec 23, 2013 at 5:40 am

    Hi Anjali,

    I am new user of your blog. I was searching links to learn bharatanatyam online and found this one interesting. Now I have started learning by seeing your videos. So, you are my first Guru :) I always had interest to learn bharatanatyam. Thank you very much for giving me opportunity to learn online.

  • 20 ashna Jan 2, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    i want to learn bharatanatyam

  • 21 ashna Jan 2, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    i like to learn baratnatyam and these are valueable messages for all………………………..

  • 22 vijay Feb 13, 2014 at 12:39 am

    dance is my soul

  • 23 sonia Mar 6, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    thanks for the info.. i am form Fiji Islands and i was learning bharat ntiyam and other dance forms from when i was a 5 year old im 19 know and i left the it 1 year a go and i am getting very fat.. i want to continue with the dance but when i start my body do not go in the flow it used to be i what to get back to dance again.. can you help me in how can i start.. because i work 6days a week 12hours and only 1 day free so what will be the best to start from.

  • 24 Ravali Mar 10, 2014 at 4:10 am

    I was so fascinated by your website. I have a doubt, whether there are any differences between Bharatnatyam in Andhra pradesh and tamilnadu or both are same.

  • 25 Abhilash Lama Mar 18, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Hello mam,
    This site is very useful and i too am learning Bharatnatyam from your videos. Since i am from Nepal and i was always intrested in classical dancing since I was a kid. I am a boy and 18 years old. I have a question if it is still ok to learn it since I’m just a beginne.

  • 26 Anjali Mar 19, 2014 at 10:07 am

    @Abhilah yes you could still learn. good luck.

  • 27 SHWETA CHANDRA Apr 10, 2014 at 3:40 am

    since childhood i was interested in classical dance forms but being from bihar we nver got that chance to learn it from a professional point of view . i am an engineer pass out now that too from chennai ,being from such a place i got more inclined towards this dance form and i wonder if now i can learn this dance at this age to quest my desire of dancing? kindly answer my query then only i”ll be confident enough to learn bharath natyam ,,,

  • 28 Harshita Jun 11, 2014 at 2:55 am

    Why Abhinaya is the important aspect in Bharatanatyam? or why abhinaya is so important for every student ?

  • 29 sanju satheesh Jun 22, 2014 at 5:29 am

    Haiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii mam this information is very exiteddd i like very much because i am a bharathanatyam student ,THANKYOU SO MUCH……………..

  • 30 Dr.Ashwini Nov 28, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Hi Anjali, its a great pleasure,ur doing such a wonderful job, i m 31yrs old, i loved this dance form since i was in school but because of some problem i could not learn this dance form, but now i really feel deep interest in bharatnatyam can u guide me how to start as a beginner, shall it be ok at such an age to perform this dance…n how to start it

  • 31 ishvari varsani Dec 29, 2014 at 5:30 am

    hi..great help

    more information on the mythical origin of bharatanatyam


  • 32 CH.rama Jan 22, 2015 at 10:12 pm


  • 33 Kavitha Sekhar Apr 12, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Hi Anjali

    My daughter is 2 year old.She is interested in dance .
    Would like to know whther your CD covers basic dance steps.

    Thanks !


  • 34 Vipul May 18, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    A wonderful information. One will obviously attracted and fall in love to dance and enjoy bharatnatyam steps. Those who really want to know about will be surprised. Enough for beginners. Thanks for creating a new interest in people. Hope this will be a “SANJIVANI” for classical dance fans.

  • 35 Dhananjay Kad Nov 29, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Thanks for history of bharatnatyam .
    This will help to getting all informations one time.
    My dautor also doing bharatnatyam last 3 year.

  • 36 Houria Jan 11, 2016 at 11:01 am

    j’aimerai trouver l’adresse à Dijon 21 en France pour les cours danse de Baratha Nathyam,les numéro de telephone ne fonctionne pas et aussi connaitre les tarifs .
    Merci Houria

  • 37 Harshal sonar Mar 24, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you for history of bhartnatyam it is use full for me to improving my knowledge about bharatnatyam dance .n i like dance n classical also i m 22 years old n learning bharatnatyam from last 1 year …… n once again thank u

  • 38 R.DEVISHREE Mar 30, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Lovely brief I ever heared before .

  • 39 Irappa Jun 30, 2016 at 1:24 am

    Very informative

  • 40 deepti Aug 30, 2016 at 2:42 am

    I resonate your thoughts around Indian Classical dance forms being epitome of artful depiction of thoughts and stories with grace that every individual interested in Dance should be exposed to….as compared to any other dance form found around the world…….

  • 41 Deepti Aug 30, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Hi Anjali, it was just yesterday morning that I was looking at finding online Bharathanatyam classes for myself online. I am a trained Bharathanatyam dancer under Guru Krishnaveni Ranga Rao of Mysore who inturn trained under Dr Venkatalakshamma of Mysore School of Bharathanatyam and hence I am trained in Mysore style of Bharathanatyam. However, I have not been able to pursue my passion for last 4 to 5 years as I had a baby and balancing between work and home and stuff. I am now looking at refreshing my own dance skills and further graduating to opening my own dance academy. Opening my own academy was also my Guru’s dream for me and my parents as well. Your website is beautifully designed and every inch of the material published here is thoroughly thought through. Coming from a traditional guru shishya culture of learning, I never imagined online dance courses could be this well designed to give the feel of an organized classroom. I am inspired beyond bounds by your passion and thoroughness in every word you have put in here. your videos are also very simple and easy to follow, and thorough enough to be the guiding lamp in the learning journey of a student with interest in dance. The thoughts you have expressed here are in complete resonance with mine and I have no doubt this was the place I was looking for when I logged in yesterday morning. My sincere Obeisance to you as I start a new journey of learning from you through your website…..Deepti

  • 42 Anjali Sep 13, 2016 at 7:42 am

    @Deepti,I wish you all the best and appreciate your kind words.