September 21st, 2012 by Anjali

Tillana is a brisk and a lively number performed towards the end of a concert. Usually a carnatic vocal or a Bharatanatyam concert culminates with a Tillana. The lyrics contain sollus like Dheem Nadir Dheem or Dheem Ta na Di tIllana .  Most of  the Tillana’s include the word ‘Tillana’ in the lyrics. It is predominantly a rhythmic composition. Tillana usually has jatis as a part of the composition and few lines of Sahityam in the charanam followed by Muktams ( Patterns of swarams) or  Sollus. Tillana consists of a Pallavi, Anupallavi, Sahityam and Cittaswaram. The composers enjoy the freedom to add the Sahityam based on the presiding deity of the composer or their Ishta devataa (beloved god).  Origin of Tillana can be traced to the Tarana of Hindustani music. Tillana’s were composed in the late 17th and 18th century by Tanjaore quartets, Ootthukkadu Venkata Kavi and Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and many such vidwans. Melattur Veerabhadrayyah is said to be the earliest composer of Tillana’s in the 17th century. The Modern day composers like Late Shri Papanasam shivam, Shri  Lalgudi Jayraman and Shri Balamurali Krishna have also composed exciting Tillanas for Dance.

Following Tillanas have been worked for you. Please click the active link below.

Kapi Tillana composed by MD Ramanathan Pillai

Dhanasri Tillana

Desh Tillana


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Palli hand gesture

July 23rd, 2012 by Anjali

Palli is done by holding Mayura hasta and then crossing middle finger over the index finger. The viniyoga shloka say: “Pallyarthe Viniyujyate”, which means it is used to it is used to represent a Hut.

Palli Hasta



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Jatiswaram part 3

December 23rd, 2011 by Anjali

In previous posts, jatiswaram part 1 and part 2, we talked about the structure of Jatiswaram, Pallavi and charanam.  ” Da” Charanam was demonstrated in the previous posts.

The following videos demonstrate the Charanams “Ni” and “Sa”.


1. Ni piece


2. Sa Piece.

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October 20th, 2011 by Anjali

In carnatic music Mallari is associated to Nadaswaram instrument, the Mangala vadyam (auspicious instrument).  Redention of Mallari is an important part of Nagaswaram repertoire. Nagaswaram music is a part of every day temple ritual. During deepaaradhana’s and temple processions Mallari is played with this instrument along with Tavil. The common ragas in which Mallari’s are presented are Gambheera nattai, Nattai, gowla, and Arabhi.

Following links have detailed information on types Mallari’s :



The following video demonstrates the  Mallari in Ragam Nattai and Talam Adi. Thanks to my friends on Rasikas.org and Jaya Akka (daughter of Swami Malai Rajaratnam Pillai) who helped me identify this ragam and also shared an interesting fact. She said that the  song was composed by her legendary father Shri Swamimalai Rajaratnam Pillai as Pushpanjali for his students.


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Jatiswaram part 2

August 12th, 2011 by Anjali

The following videos demonstrates the 4th Korvai and the Charanam ‘Dha’.  For all the repeations of the Pallavi (Starting lines or thematic line of the song that is often repeated severel times), steps are done in accordance with the  swarams. The second video shows the first Charanam ‘da,,, ni da pa da’. They sound different from the Pallavi ( Sa,,,ni da pa ga ) that was being sung so far.  Charanam means “foot” in Sanskrit. Hence Charanams are end portions of a song. There can be one or more charanams to a song. Every charanam is followed by the Pallavi

4th Korvai:

Charanam ‘Dha”

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July 22nd, 2011 by Anjali

Jatiswaram is another Nritta piece. Here the advaus are performed to swara patterns. Like Sa , ni , da , pa. There is no Sahityam unlike Swarajati. Every Jati is alternated by Swarams. A jatiswaram has Charanams which are sung in swarams and followed by Pallavi every time.  There can be three or more charanams.

Jatiswarams are in different Ragams and Talams. The Tanjore quartets compositions are widely performed. Some famous composition are
Kalyani ragam Rupakam
Ragamalika in Misrachapu,
Vasantha in Rupakam.

Many have been asking how is Jatiswaram different from swarajati. One obvious difference is the presence of Sahityam in Swarajati, and none at all in Jatiswaram. Jatiswaram has Jatis (rhythmic syllables) included in its compositions. It is music applied to dance. While Swarajati is a pure musical form.

I will be demonstrating the one in Kalayani Ragam. Watch the first two parts of this Jatiswaram.

The first video demonstrates the first two jatis.

The second videos shows the third jati.

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Shijith Nambiar’s Upcoming Workshops in US

April 8th, 2011 by Anjali

Shijith Nambiar and Parvathi Nambiar are one of the few leading dancing couples in Bharatanatyam. It was their training is kalakshetra that brought the two dancing souls together as partner’s in life. Now they share the stage together with their duet choreographies.

During my phone conversation with him , he never made me feel that I was talking to an accomplished dancer who has won several title’s like  ‘Yuvabharathi’ and accolades around the globe. His soft spoken, polite and gentle tone shall never fail to impress  those who have interacted with him. When asked who inspired him to take up dancing. “My father” he said instantly. He started learning as a 9th grader and later after 12th joined Kalakshetra to complete his graduation and also served as a faculty there. For all those who feel that starting to learn Natyam during teens is a little too late, then Shijith’s story could inspire them to start. Well now he has numerous international collaborations and travels often for presentation and workshops.

Shijith is now on a US tour offering workshops at various locations:

April 9th – April 16th in New Jersey.

April 18th – April 23rd in Albany

May 6th – May 23rd in Texas.

But  If you are going to miss him this spring then, he and his team will be with us again this fall 2011 (sept-nov) with their new creation Eshwara. For more details on the venue and the contents of the workshop, please contact Shijith_Nambiar (at) Hotmail (dot) com. You can visit him at shijithnambiar.co.in .

Here is a nice article about this dancing couple in the Hindu, which talks about their journey through the dancing world. Dance is not just my career, it is a prayer, religion, my life… says Shijith.

Some glimpses of their performance at the Milapfest

OnlineBharatanatyam family wishes Shijith and Parvathi loads of success and good luck for their future endeavors.

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March 31st, 2011 by Anjali

Kautukam means in “Praise of” . It is also called Kavithuvam or  Kausthuvam. Kavithuvam meaning “Poetic Quality”. The Kautukams were once performed  by temple dancers as rituals. On the day of “Tiruvadira” in month of  Margazi season (Margashirsha) when the gods were brought out for procession the Kautukams were danced and sung amidst the crowds. Certain temples had it own Kautukam. Panchamurthy kautukams were written on Lord Vinayaka, Muruga, Natesha, Sambanda and Sandeshwarar. The custom was to use high pitched ragas like Natti, Varali, Arabhi to compose them. Gangai Muthu Nattuvanar has composed most of the popular kautukams danced in the present .  Danseuse Priyadarshini Govind has made a special note on Navasandhi kautukams in her video CD . She says “The Navasandhi kautukams were performed in the temples at different sandhis (junctions of the temple).  This was performed to propitiate the Gods of different sandhis. The Navasandhi kautukams are on Brahma, Indra,  Agni, Yama, Niritti, Varuna, Vayu Kubera and Ishana.”  The Structure of kautukam is such that poetic lines are often followed and preceded by Sollu’s. Also the poetic lines are first recited and then sung in a ragam. Following are the kautukams that have been worked for you.

Nataraja or Natesha kautukam

Vinayaka Kautukam (coming soon)

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Natesha or Nataraja Kautukam

March 31st, 2011 by Anjali

I have here worked on the Natesha Kautukam. This was the Kautukam that I learnt probably when I was 8 or 9. The steps are same almost in every style. I like the the Kalakriya series music for this Kautukam. Hence the demonstration is a blend of what I had learnt and Mrs Priyadarshiniji’s choreography.  This Kautukam is in Ragam Varali and Adi Talam. (Composer: Gangai Muttu Nattuvanar)

Please see the lyrics and the meaning below:

Thatavana Muni Jana Sakala Asura-sura
One who is worshipped by the rishis of tadavana(dense forest) and the Demons and Gods alike.

Sannutha Paada Kinkini Jhum Jhum
I bow to him who adorns the anklets that make the sound jham jham.

Jhana Jhana Jhana Jhana Noopura laya gati
His Bells produce the sound jhana while he performs his cosmic dance

Ghana ghana ghana ghana Viti Hari Sevita
Bhrahma and vishnu also worship him.

Thaanda Vidambara
the one who performs the tandava

Vyaghrama Shankara
the one who is worshiped by vyagrahas

(If it was “Vygra charma Dhara“, then it would mean “one who wears the Tiger’s Skin”. This interpretation is also used in some songs. The hastas used would change. Check this link by Durga Swaminathan , between 2.33 to 2.42  to see what I meant.)

Trishula Dhara
One who holds the Trishula

Nandi Vaha,  Nada yoga priya
One who rides the Nandi, and one who loves dance and music.

Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Shashi ravi Bhoshana
Salutations to one who adorns the sun and the moon

Roopa Bhayankara
One who has an awesome personality .

(The word Bhayankara could also mean Fearful. But how can the lord be fearful? May be  his raudra Avatara sounds scary.)

Damaruka hasta
One who holds a Damru (handy percussion drum) in his hands.

Tritiya sahastra Dikshita Natha
One who is lord of Three thousand Dikshitas of Chidambaram

Please add your valuable comments and inputs to make this post a better reference material.

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February 3rd, 2011 by Anjali

Shloka/ Shlok/ Shlokam in sanskrit means a verse, hymn in praise of or a proverb.  They are usually two lined verses or a collection of such individual verses are then called as stotrams. Shlokam form a part of Hindu prayers. Following Shlokams were taught to me by my grandmother as a kid. They are the most common verses sung in every Indian homes.  While teaching I realized that children were excited to act out the shlokams  they chanted every day. It was in the dance class that they learnt what these verses meant , because I had to explain them every gesture that we put together. Now their prayer time was much more meaningful, as they surprised their parents with the meaning.

Watch the video for the demonstrations.

The above video demonstrates the following shlokas:-


Saraswati Namas thubyam
varade kama roopini
Vidya-rambham karishyami
Shiddhir bhavatumay sada


Hey Goddess Saraswati, my humble prostrations to you,
Who is an embodiment of all wishes
Remembering you I begin my studies
so that your grace and blessings shall bring success always.


Shuklam Bharadharam Vishnum,
Shashi varnam chatur bhujam,
prasanna vadanam dhyayet
sarva vighnopa shantayet,

Meaning :

one who wears a white garment; One who is everywhere
one who has the complexion like the moon; who has four arms
Who has a pleasant smiling countenane; one should meditate upon
in order to remove all obstacles


Shantakaram Bhujagashayanam
Padmanabham suresham
vishvadharam gaganasadrasham
meghavarnam shubhangam
lakshmi kantam kamala nayanam
yogi bhir gnyana gamyam
vande vishnum bhavabhaya haram
sarva lokaykanatham


I bow to Lord Vishnu the One Master of the Universe, who is ever peaceful, who reclines on the great serpent bed, from whose navel springs the Lotus of the Creative Power, who is the Supreme Being, who supports the entire universe, who is all-pervading as the sky, who is dark like the clouds and has a beautiful form; the Lord of Lakshmi, the lotus-eyed One, whom the yogis are able to perceive through meditation, He, who is the destroyer of the fear of Samsar


Gurur Brahma gurur vishnum
gurur devo maheshwaraha
guru sakshat parabrhma
tasmai shree gurave namaha


Oh teacher , I see you as Brahma, Teacher I see you as Vishnu, Hey Guru I see you as Mahesh(Shiva). You are the lord of Lords, I bow unto thee.

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