Bharatanatyam is an intricate and complicated classical dance form widely practiced in South India, especially Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states. It can be viewed upon as a subtle synthesis of philosophy, sculpture, music and literature set in motion before the eye. According to the legend, the first ever performer of it was lord Shiva himself. He taught the dance to his divine spouse, and she gave this art to people. Another tradition however says that it was Brahma who created the Natya Veda for the enjoyment of the senses, thus giving the basis for the performing arts.
Bharatanatyam is an exceptionally precise dance form. It features variety of movements with emphasis on leaps, twists of the body, turns and spins. A distinctive feature of Bharatanatyam dance is the use of expressive hand gestures as a way of communication. Rhythmically the dance is based on a complicated footwork technique, the primary element of which is a flat stomp of the feet. Bharatanatyam has earned itself the name of “the rhythmical aspect of Yoga”, as it sometimes is called.
Basic postures of this dance style include outstretched arms and knees facing the sides. The movements of arms create beautiful geometrically precise lines in space, thus giving Bharatanatyam mathematical clarity. It can be considered even as a science, since each movement, each part of the body is split and gives definite kinetic functions. Strength, precision and at the same time - beauty, softness, sensuality and meditativeness is characteristic for this dance style. It is very expressive and rich with combinations of technical elements. A Bharatanatyam performance can lead audience even to catarsis and the dancer to samadhi.