Abhinaya in Dance (Part 2)

December 2nd, 2007 by Anjali

Abhinaya in Dance (Part 1)

Before we move on to the explanation of different Abhinayas I would like to share a popular shloka (poetic verse) in praise of lord Shiva who is said to be the embodiment of these four Abhinayas. The dancing Avatar of Lord Shiva is called the Nataraja (The king of Dance).

Angikam Bhuvanam YasyaNataraja
Vachikam Sarva Vangmayam
Aaharyam Chandra Taradi
TamVande Sattvikam Shivam

it means:

We bow to Him the benevolent One
Whose limbs are the world,
Whose song and poetry are the essence of all language,
Whose costume is the moon and the stars…”

So you can see that the four types of Abhinaya are mentioned in the shloka above. They are:

Angikabhinaya, Vachikabhinaya, Aharyaabhinaya, Sattvikabhinaya.

1.Angika Abhinaya involves expressing the meaning of the song or lyrics using different body parts. In Natyashastra, Angika is a detailed study of all the possible gestures, postures and movements of each and every part of the body. Angikabhinaya uses the total body to express certain meaning. Hasta Abhinaya is an important aspect of Angika. Here body is divided into three major parts – the Anga, Pratyanga and Upanga.

1.The six Angas are – Siras (head), Hasta (hand), Vaksas (chest), Parsva (sides), Katitata (hips), Pada (leg). Some consider Griva (neck) to be the seventh.

2.There are six Pratyangas – Skandha (shoulders), Bahu (arms), Prstha (back), Udara (stomatch), Uru(calves), Jangha (shanks). Some consider Manibandha (wrist), Kurpara (elbows) and Janu (knees) also as Pratyanga.

3.There are twelve Upangas or minor parts of the Siras or face which are important for Mukharaga or facial expression. These are – Drsti(eyes), Bhru (eye-brows), Puta (pupil), Kapola (cheek), Nasika (nose), Adhara (jaws), lips, teeth, tongue, chin and face.

2. Vachika Abhinaya is the expression through speech. It is done with the help literature such as poems and dramatics. The Natyashastra writes in detail about the different meters in poetry, strong and week points of poetic writing and diction. It also talks about Figures of speech. Natyshastra says that words spoken during a natya should be full of suggested meaning. The Dialogues delivered or the song sung gives only some ideas which have to be expanded by Angika Abhinaya. Musical notes, play a very important role in creating the mood and emotion of the song. It is also very important in bringing out proper tala while dancing.

In the next post we shall see the other two Abhinayas in Detail.

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Leave A Comment

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Karthika Dec 6, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    Hi Anjali Mam,

    I live in US.I was been longing to learn bharatanatyam from many years.Hats off to u for this website and ur wonderfull way of explanation for each and every moment.Any one can understand even with expressions.Thanks a lot……………Thank u veryyyyy much……….keep on posting

  • 2 Anjali Dec 10, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    Hi Kartika, Thanks a lot for your motivating words. keep visiting and adding your valuable thoughts.

  • 3 angana de Jan 8, 2009 at 12:29 am

    hello anjali mam. i live in kolkata. i love dancing ,moreover bharatnatyam. this site helps me a lot to learn it . ur explanations are soooooo ggggoooooooodddddd.

  • 4 Anjali Jan 8, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Thank you, Angana.

  • 5 Monica Apr 25, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Dear Anjali,

    I have learnt some bharatnatyam in my childhood (Alarippu and jatiswaram) I am now a teacher at the Australian preschool in Singapore. We are trying to teach 3 year old children different ways of expressing emotions. I decided to show them how emotions are expressed in the bharatnayam dance. I am wondering if there is a video that can help me learn and then show them emotions of anger, happiness and sadness.
    I did see the video on your website by Ms. Shilaja where she expresses the navrasa. Do you have any more suggestions/videos? Thank you so much.

  • 6 Anjali Apr 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Hello Monica, a very interesting project. The fun is when you ask children to express. They will enjoy expressing themselves. Laughing at others or probably at what you do. Even in the class we donot show them any video. Giving examples in daily life is the best way to relate. They will definitely come out with interesting inputs. But not sure about these tiny tots. Take a look at these links.
    http://www.ehow.com/video_4395597_kathak-dance-sentiment-expressions.html
    http://www.ehow.com/video_4395598_kathak-dance-facial-expressions.html

  • 7 sindhuja Sep 3, 2009 at 8:24 am

    awesome!
    thanks a lot!

  • 8 Vani Jun 26, 2010 at 4:06 am

    Hello Anjali Madam,

    Really very nice page. Me & My daughter (9yrs) visit this page everytime we need some information on Bharatanatyam. My daughter is learning Bharatanatyam from past 2 years and her teacher gives some home work and we sure to get an answer from your page :)

    Thanks a lot, Really appreciate the effort you have taken to publish this.

    Vani

  • 9 Anjali Jun 27, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    thanks Vani appreciate your feedback.

  • 10 priya Sep 2, 2011 at 9:56 am

    hi anjali,
    I have learnt bharat natyam from childhood and also performed an arangetram at guruvayoor temple in kerala. Today evening i saw ur dance at internet and very much interested to learn some more dance items please post the dance items of alaipayuthe, krishna nee begare, varnam , shabdam, padam etc.
    Actually i have decided to start dance class from next month onwards.pls reply

  • 11 priya Sep 5, 2011 at 1:54 am

    hi anjali,
    I have learnt bharat natyam from childhood and also performed an arangetram at guruvayoor temple in kerala. Today evening i saw ur dance at internet and very much interested to learn some more dance items please post the dance items of alaipayuthe, krishna nee begare, varnam , shabdam, padam etc.
    Actually i have decided to start dance class from next month onwards.pls reply

  • 12 Shanthi Dec 3, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Dear Anjali ji,
    You had mentioned:
    The six Angas are – Siras (head), Hasta (hand), Vaksas (hip), Parsva (chest), Katitata (sides), Pada (leg). Some consider Griva (neck) to be the seventh.
    In Samskrtam, I think Vaksha means chest (we say vakshasthale kausthubham) , Katitata means hip and Parsva is sides. Can you confirm the meanings for me?

  • 13 Anjali Dec 7, 2011 at 5:06 am

    @Shanthi..yes you are right. Vakshas mean Chest. Katitata is hips Parshva is sides. Thank you for pointing out. Will get that corrected.

  • 14 ravi vyas Mar 17, 2012 at 6:04 am

    ye

    Angikam Bhuvanam Yasya
    Vachikam Sarva Vangmayam
    Aaharyam Chandra Taradi
    TamVande Sattvikam Shivam..

    kisne likha hai.. plz mail me…..

  • 15 vd.sreeja pillai Aug 19, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Hi chechi…..i started studing bharatnatyam on chingam 1.i saw this site on the same day…..this is the best…….m in mumbai…..it shal b my pleasure to watch u live (performing)some day .kindly giv a post if u come mumbai.they taught it like..tam numam saatvikam sivam….u write tam vande satvikam sivam…..who wrote this?is this from naatya saastra?….plz inform.

  • 16 Hanvi Patel May 27, 2014 at 1:40 am

    Hi Anjali Mam ,
    I am a 17 year-old college girl. I want to learn Bharatanatyam – from Namaskaram to upto what it may end . Its my interest since I was in class 7 . But my Father wants me to study so he didn’t let me go to any classes . So Hows that I got Your webpage and I thought its a best way to learn. I want to Perform Bharatanatyam at college function on the song Ekdanaya Vakratunday Gouri Tanaya Dheemahi sung by Shankar Mahadevan . So can you teach me????
    Thanks to You Anjali,
    Hanvi