History of Bharatanatyam
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.