Bharata Natyam is one of the eight styles of classical Indian dance. It originated in the karanas, sculptures ornamenting the temple of Chidambaram in the south of India. First presented in the temples, it has maintained its devotional character until today and, over time, has become quite sophisticated technically. Its precision, beauty and divine essence transform, transport and elevate the souls of both the dancer and the audience towards the divine.
BHARATA is named after the scholar Bharata Muni who wrote Natya Shastra, a compilation of the numerous facets of the performing arts. BHARATA also means «bha» for «bhava» meaning emotion, «ra» for «raga» meaning melody and «ta» for «tala» meaning rhythm. NATYA refers to a dance-drama presented in a theatrical format.
Bharata Natyam consists of a complete range of adavus, precise basic movements that harmoniously unite hand gestures, or mudras, with eye and head movements, all resonating in unison with the entire body and accompanied by rhythmic footwork. Learning the adavus develops concentration because the mind is absorbed in coordinating the entire body with intense precision.
It is first necessary to master the adavus before moving on to the traditional Bharata Natyam repertoire. This includes pure dance pieces or nritta, with no specific meaning, and expressive movements or nritya, hand gestures emphasized by facial expressions, called abhinaya that communicate emotions and to give life to the characters being presented thus revealing the meaning of the poems sung to music. These poems are inspired by Hindu Vedic writings and are dedicated to various divinities with devotion.