— Namaste —
Indian Classical Dance
History & Philosophy
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The main musician who supports the performances, and who is usually the teacher, often sings as well as playing the rhythms. Musical accompanists often include mridanga, violin, flute, vina, and tabla. The costume is a brocaded saree which is worn a little above the ankles, and there are many pleats in front which open like a fan in the aramandi sitting posture.
The face is made up and the eyes drawn beautifully; the palms and feet are painted red with alta. The jewelry is Thalai Samanam: earring, nosering, necklace, armlets, waist belt, anklets, etc. Flowers are used in a generous way.
Modern dancers also stuudy "Mirror Gestures" (Abhinaya Darpana), which literally means "carrying the play towards the ascertainment of its meaning, which is what each actor or dancer, by means of expression, gesture, and movement, must do effectively. Mastering each and every movement of the head, eyes, mouth, neck, hands, and the whole body is a requirement which allows the dancer to communicate the profound and lasting truths to the people through the elaborated technique of Bharata Natyam.
The present form of Bharatanatyam was formed by the Tanjore brothers Chinnaiah, Ponnaih, Sivanandam and Vadivelu. In it we find the integration of three aspects — basic dance steps (nritta), expression (nritya), and drama (natya). There are 15 kinds of dance steps and their variations, and they also have specific rhythmic patterns. In combination, this yields a great range of complex dance patterns, rhythms, and postures to allow the dancer to accurately portray the human drama with all its subtleties, activities, and devotion.