Poetry in Motion

Bharatha Natyam is one of the oldest form of dance. This form of dance is based on the ancient text on dance. Bharatha stands for Bhava(mood), Raga(music), and Tala(rhythm), while Natyam stands for Nritta. Movement, mime and music are given equal importance in Bharatha Natyam. A Bharatha Natyam performance is rendered by a solo artist, or a duo, or as a group. Bharatha Natyam is poetry in motion.

A Bharatha Natyam performance involves Alarippu-the invocation of God, Jathi Swaram-a note combination, Shabdam-a combination of notes and lyrics, Varnam-a combination of pure dance and abhinaya, and Thillana-the finale. The costumes used in a performance are elaborate.

The dancers dress in specially designed colorful silk costumes and wear head ornaments, necklaces and bangles. Flowers are wound around their long plait. According to the Natya Shastra by Sage Bharatha, Nritta, Nrithya and Natya are the three aspects of dance. Nritta means pure and simple dance.

This involves movements of the body and limbs, for a decorative effect, without conveying any meaning. Nrithya lays emphasis of expressions, to convey the meaning of the rendering. Nrithya involves facial expressions, gestures and symbolic poses. Natya includes drama through the use of spoken word, apart from Nritta and Nrithya.