Bharatanatyam is dance form that originated in South India. It is important to learn that this dance was appropriated by the elite class Indians from the Devadasis community of hereditary artists. This history of oppression and appropriation is often masked by the popular nationalist narrative. The Bharatanatyam we practice today has been morphed and is constantly evolving. Although, it's techniques and terminology can be traced back to Natya Shastra, written by sage Bharata (200 BCE to 200 CE).
The name Bharatanatyam is an acronym for Bha-"Bhava" (emotion), Ra-"Raga" (melody) and Ta-"Tala"(rhythm) to indicate the three important elements of natyam (dance).
Creating beauty through movements and dynamic energy through rhythmic footwork, Bharatanatyam also serves as a tool for expression through mind, body, and soul. The body moves in geometric patterns with sharp lines and angles, which are also interspersed with graceful fluid like movements.
We train the body so that, from head to toe each and every part is active in controlled motion. The mind constantly calculates the tala/rhythm counts, keeping the memory active, and simultaneously embodying various characters and portraying different emotions.
It is a discipline that doesn't come overnight. One has to have patience and should work very hard with determination in order to experience it fully. Once the art is mastered, it is a blissful experience to dance, which in turn elevates the soul.