Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Different styles of Bharatanatyam dance

Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest known classical dances that have been handed down over the years, along with the Indian tradition. It is a form of dance that integrates three major aspects namely Bhava, Raga and Tala. “Bhava” means expression of emotions, “Raga” means music and “Tala” means rhythm. All three entwined together emerge into the vibrant Bharatanatyam dance. Witnessing this classical dance performance with the dancer properly clad in a Bharatanatyam costume, jewelry and make up is truly a sight to behold. It is sure to create an impact and remain etched in your memories forever.

Bharatanatyam dance finds its origin in the state of Tamil Nadu in India and is dated back into centuries. Over the years, this dance has evolved into variants based on the region, culture and religious beliefs and hence manifests itself into different styles.

Some of the styles that root back into the centuries are:
  • Thanjavur
  • Kancheepuram
  • Melattur
  • Vazhuvoor
  • Pandanaloor
  • Mysore

Each one of these styles has its own special significance and differs from the rest in the way in which the major elements of Bhava, raga and tala are utilized. Bharatnatyam itself is ingrained into the Hindu mythological scriptures and most of the dances try to portray those scriptures by means of the dance. These dances use rhythmic movement of the eyes, head, hands, body and legs along with apt expressions. Certain styles of Bharatanatyam may provide more importance to vivid rhythmic movements alone, while some follow a slower depiction with varied facial expressions. Some styles adopt deep-sitting positions while others follow the half-sitting positions.

In the recent years other styles of Bharatanatyam dance such as the Kalakshetra and Balasaraswathi styles have also become prevalent. These are combinations or variations of one or more of the earlier styles of the dance. While the styles of the yester years give more importance for solo dancing, the contemporary styles provide more room for group performances.

Whatever may be the style of dancing; the Bharatanatyam costume and jewelry is extremely important and adds great value to the dancer. Modern day trend presents the Bharatanatyam dress in two different forms: one is the saree or skirt style with the pleats all ready. This needs to be draped appropriately by the dancer. The other is the pyjama style that can be easily worn by the dancer. Both costumes excel in quality and grandeur. Dancers can choose their costume based on the dance style they patronize and the comfort level that they feel for each of these costume styles.

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