The dance form Bharatanatyam is considered as a sacred ritual that will bring spiritual up-liftment to both the dancer and the audience. Ancient times Bharatanatyam was performed by Devadasis in Hindu temples .
Originally Devadasis were held in high esteem in Hindu culture . They lead a life of celibacy and spend their time worshipping God. But as the Devadasy system was exploited by kings and the priests, gradually they became concubines of the ruling class. Srigara rasa( Love and Lust ) expresses the most intimate beauties of Bharata natyam with all the purity of spirit . Sringara rasa is the ultimate bhava of the conscious body . Bharata Natyam takes both the audience and the dancer from the extreme plane of body consciousness to the higher spiritual level . There are nine main or primary emotions (rasa) in Bharatanatyam,( Sthayibhavas).
Shringara – Love
Hasya – Mirth
Veera – Heroism
Roudra – Anger
Bhayanaka – Terror
Bheebatsa – Disgust
Adbhuta – Wonder
Karuna – Compassion
Shanta – Tranquility
Vatsalya(Parental fondling) rasa is also sometimes included as one of the stayibhava.
Vibhava (cause of emotion), Anubhava (effect of emotion) and Sanchari bhava (subordinate emotions) constitute the state of rasa.
Bharatanatyam has three distinct elements : Nritta (rhythmic dance movements), Natya (mime, or dance with a dramatic aspect), and Nritya (combination of Nritta and Natya). Bharatanatyam is based on the theories of the books 'Natyasaasthram' and 'Abhinaya Darpanam'. The dance form is based on 'Adavu' (steps) and 'Hasthamudra' (hand gestures). There are 64 basic 'Adavu' and they are divided into 9 parts, on which 'Thattadavu', 'Naatadavu', 'Kuthithumettadavu', 'Mandiadavu', 'Sarikkal' and 'Thattumettu' are very important. Communication is done through 'bhavabhinaya' (facial expression) and 'hasthamudra' (hand gestures). The performance starts with the prayers to God Ganapathi and worship of Nataraja Moorthi.
The sequence of the dance performance is 'Alarippu', 'Jathiswaram', 'Sabdam', 'Varnam', 'Padam' and 'Thillana'. After 'Thillana', with a 'Mangala Slokam' the dance program ends.
Bharatanatya represents the metaphysical element of fire in the human body . The moment of a dancer represents the moment of flame . Bharatanatyam has two aspects lasya the feminine form and tandava the masculine form.
The legend behind Bharatanatyam is that , it was created by Brahma himself, as requested by the Devas to create a Veda that can be understood by the Sudras, in Kaliyug. Natya sastra is considered as the fifth Veda. Bharatanatyam was created to express all the moods and passions of the soul. Brahma created natyaveda by combining Pathya (words) of Rigveda, Abhinaya (communicative elements of the body movements, cf. mime) of Yajurveda, geetham (music and chant) of Samaveda, and rasam (vital sentiment and emotional element) of Atharvaveda. Brahma designated rishi Bharata to write it down and spread it to the material world. Bharata-guided the demigods (Gandharavas and Apsaras) in performing natya, nrtta and nrtya before Shiva. Natya Shastra came to be the fundamental authority on the technique of classical Indian dances, especially Bharatanatyam and Odissi, as well as Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam. Some prefer to belive the term "Bharatnatyam" owes its name to rishi Bharata. Bharata along with the apsaras and gandharvas performed Bharatanatyam for Shiva who asked Thandu Maharishi to develop it further into a Thandava (which only much later came to mean "masculine") style of dance, the Cosmic Dance of Shiva. Shiva imparted Lasya Natya to Parvathi who taught it on to Usha (the daughter of Banasura). Usha passed it on to the gopis of Dwarka
Bharatanatyam in its current form is restructured by the Tajore Quartet(Chinniah, Sivanandam, Ponniah and Vadivelu). By coordinating their diverse talents, the four managed to
organize all the basic dance movements of pure dance into a progressive series of lessons [adavu chapters]. Each adavu (basic unit of motion) was taught in systematic order and then combined with others to produce choreographed sequences based upon the rhythmic contour of a musical composition. Over the years many Gurus and dancers of Bharatanatyam has made their contributions.
In Indian mythology,Lord Shiva is considered as the supreme lord of dance. This divine art form is performed by Lord Shiva & his wife Goddess Parvathi. The Dance performd by Lord Shiva is known as Tandava, which depicts his violent nature as the distructor of the universe. The tandava performed with joy is called Ananda Tandava and performed in violent mood is called Rudra Tandava. There are 7 types of Tandava. Namely Ananda Tandava, Tripura Tandava, Sandhya Tandava, Samara Tandava, Kaali tandava, Uma Tandava and Gauri Tandava. There are few people who believa that there are 16 types of Tandava. Tandava has vigourous, brisk movements.The dance performed by Goddess Parvathi is known as Lasya, in which the movements are gentle, graceful and sometimes erotic also. Some scholars call Lasya as the feminine version of Tandava. Lasya has 2 kinds. Jarita Lasya and Yauvaka Lasya.
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