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The Basics Of Bharatanatyam (3N)

Today I would like to step a bit back and explore the basics of Bharatanatyam. As you may know, Bharatanatyam is generally referred to have three distinct streams or aspects:

Nritta, Nrittya and Natya

For quick recall, we can refer to them as the 3N s of the dance form. What does each of them represent?

Nritta is pure dance or sequences of dance that are non interpretative in nature. This means that these steps, movements or gestures are not meant to convey any message or thought. They are primarily meant to add beauty to the dance form. Adavus (described earlier) form the basic component of Nritta.

Nrittya on the other hand is an interpretative dance and involves a lot of sentiments, emotions and description. The gestures in this stream convey messages like depicting a king, indicating that it is morning time etc. This consists of leg, hand, neck, head and eye movements to convey the message.

Natya is dance drama and its main technique is Abhinaya. It involves acting out a story for the audience using expressions. Also the actors may dress like the character. Natya is usually performed with a mythologial theme, like on the stories of Ramayana or Krishnaleela, etc. For eg. This would involve enacting parts of Ramayana or Mahabharata.


  1. Melissa

    Namaskar Anjali!
    Just wondering if you have plans to include here some notions of Carnactic Music. As a western, it is difficult sometimes to understand notios like tala, raga, as there are same items with different talas/ragas. For example, Tishram Alarippu, Mishram Alarippu, etc and Kalyani Jathiswaram, Saraswati Jathiswaram.
    Is there a good book/site to understand Carnactic music, like an idiot’s guide? hehe
    So many thanx as usual

  2. Vandana

    Hi Anjali

    Am vandana and am in USA at present.,.. Am very much interested in dance and music…. Can u help me out in letting me know abt the online courses on bharathanatyam…. I would like to learn Bharathanatyam thru online…..



  3. tejaswini shinde

    I have really enjoyed this site.
    I am learning bharatanatyam and was suggested to visit this site and the information has provided to be very useful.
    This site is very methodical and easy to use
    I will recommend this site to every person who is looking for information on bharatanatyam

  4. Anjali

    Thank you Tejaswini . I am glad you liked it. I am sure a good word from you will add a great value to this site. I wish you good luck for your lessons ahead.

  5. sanghamitra

    hi anjali
    I loved your website.It was very helpful because I myself am a student learning dance,but could you tell me where do u get the Mudra’s along with their pictures,so that I can know how to do them.

  6. Khushali

    Do u have this bharatnatyam book so that i can learn form the book. as u give every little little thing in website about this dance so i want this book. if u pls help me for that form where i can get ur book and give me all the details.

  7. Anjali

    Kushali, apart from what was given to me by my Guru. I also refer to books like “Abhinaya darpanam- The mirrors of expression” by P.Ramchandrashekhar and Manmohan Ghosh.

  8. siri

    hi anjali,
    its very happy to watch ur dance in the website.
    actually i want to learn the dance.either online or in school,but i dont know little bit of this.iam it possible to learn in my age.
    and what time it takes for stage performance.i hope u will say good news to me.thank u.

  9. anjali

    Hello Siri, Thank you. You can definitely learn at 26. I have send you a mail regarding the online classes. looking forward to your reply.

  10. karthik

    HI Anjali,
    I am Karthik from India. I am 22 yrs old and Im interested in learning Bharatanatyam. However, due to certain reasons, I was not able to take up classes all these years and I don’t think I can continue for long. I am currently using you videos to learn the basics. Your site is fantastic and your method of teaching is excellent.

  11. Shylaja

    Hi Anjali,
    This is Shylaja… This website is really informative and User-friendly. I need some help.. Can you show hastas for viniyogams? It will very helpful in teaching for the students.

  12. sajitha

    hi anjali ..!!
    i have learnt bharatanatyam, mohiniyattam n kuchhipudi..n done wid my arangetram..ur site is awesome…just wanted 2 kno can i learn bharatanatyam further frm u…i want to start my own academy…so i need training for tht…pls help me out…waiting for ur reply..thanks…

  13. Shruti

    I found this site very simple to understand and learn. But I’m not sure if I can rely only on online teachings like this, I’m unable to go to any institute or a guru and learn owing to my studies. Is it possible to learn purely online and through books? Please let me know if there are any online teaching sessions or anything that might be useful for me! I’l be very grateful 🙂


    So Finally i got a guru at my age of 29. Glad to see this website anjali….i dont have word to explain my pleasure..thank GOD

  15. Vibha

    Namaskar Anjali, The news about online class for bharathnatyam is very encouraging as there are no gurus nearby my area in FL.I am looking for my daughter to learn. She is 3 yrs old. Now is it too early for her to start? Will online class work for her?Pls do advise. thank you

  16. peena

    hi anjali m peena frm mumbai m happy 2 see ur online teaching bt is it possible 2 learn online dance m 27yrs old wud love nd m deying 2 learn bharatnatyam on any basis r u running any classes in mumbai nd wht r ur terms n conditions nd charges m luking forward fr positive response thnk u!

  17. ishita

    my 4-year daughter is enthused and ready to learn.she started classes.i need help for practice at home & so i need to see videos,any tips u have 4 small beginners

  18. Sindhu

    Hi Anjali,

    This site is very impressive. I am 30 and I am interested to learn Bharatnatyam.Could you please suggest dance schools in New Delhi

  19. Alexander the Average

    It’s been several years since I last practiced bharatanatyam, and this is a great place for me to brush up my basics and dust off my skills before I start formal classes again. I love what you’re doing here and want to thank you for it.

  20. Prabhupada Priya Devi Dasi

    Thank you for the information and online classes for Bharatanatyam. This has helped a lot in my studies … Thank you very much! My humble obeisances. Hare Krishna!

  21. Mithila.M.V

    Hi Anjali Mam this is Mithila from India. I have been learning this dance form since I was 8 yrs, Now I am 25 and married. Am not able to attend regular classes. I found your site very helpful for keeping in touch with the basics. Thank you. I have a small request. Can you please teach or choreograph for small devaranamas on Lord ganesha or krishana or Saraswati and so on?? I would love to learn those.

  22. Vasanthi

    Hi Anjali,
    I was really happy to come through this website. I learned Barthnatyam for 5 yrs when I was young but could not continue it due to higher studies. Now Iam 27 and love to dance. I am really impressed with the efforts you have put into this website. I am planning to start my practice once again.. And your site was really helpful in recollecting all the mudras… Thanks a lot…

  23. Janani

    Hi Anjali
    I am from UK.
    I am going to start teaching Barathanatyam. I just wondering if you have plans to include here some websites where I can download alarippu, yadishwaram, kouwthuwam etc.
    it is very difficult to buy in UK. I am looking to buy those cd’s for the dance performance.

    Thank you

  24. Aishwarya

    Hi Anjali,

    The website is very useful and good. Great job!

    Do you know anyone who conducts classes in bangalore?

  25. abi

    i feel very pleased with this messages.I just love to dance online teaching is not a easy task,but you are making it a great progress.

  26. Manju

    Hello Anjali, I am 30 years old. Born in Kerala and brought up in Delhi. Right from my childhood i love dancing and singing. But couldnt go for any classes as my parents never wanted me to get trained in that. Since i have the passion for dancing i have done simple stage shows and being a teacher i teach dance to my students for school functions. My in laws run a school in Rajasthan. For the development of the school I have decided to take dance classes for students. U know in north India, ppl love classical dances. Just want to ask….can i get trained from this website and teach my students? Means, Is it possible for me to learn bharatanatyam from ur site and to take classes for my students weekly? If yes, suggest me what should i do??

  27. Anjali

    @Manju, you can surely learn with the help of videos, but you will need someone to tell you about your correction that is possible only with a teacher interacting with you. We offer classes to students outside india. Being in India take advantage of going and learning with teachers. Since you are from Delhi there are experienced Bharatanatyam Gurus around Delhi. Do take advantage of that.

  28. Mekhala

    Hi Anjali,

    I am keen to pursue bharat natyam after a gap but not sure if I would get the time as I am a working mom of a 9 months old. I am based out of Ahmedabad. Can you guide me with the classes here? I would also like to know about your online course. Thanks in advance

  29. Kalay

    Vanakkam Anjali.thank you for a lovely website. I wanted to find out about your DVDs for sale. Can I still purchase them I am from South Africa. Can you please email me the info.

    Have a lovely day

  30. Nathania

    Hai mam,
    I am nathania, 5+ year old. My mother is writing this letter. I start studying Bharatanatyam from mam`s site. Mam please bless me.

  31. Shashank sushil pandya

    Hello mam!!My ques is that can boys put alta(red paint) on their hands and legs while doing Bharatnatyam….is it acceptable to the customs of Bharatnatyam……

  32. Ragam Rajan


    i would like to know if my 10 year old daughter could start online classes and learn from you. we live in the US.

    Thank you,
    best regards,

  33. sanjana

    Hi Maam , there is something which is said by the guru at the beginning of adavu what is that I heard this but not clear ” talak ka dina ta taka ti dhina tu” what is it ?

  34. Anjali

    instead of saying 1234 we say dalangu taka diku taka tadi gina tom. Like wise it varies with different talams

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