Photo by Dan
Bharatha Natyam is a South Indian classical dance form that developed chiefly in Tamil Nadu over the past three thousand years. The name Bharatha Natyam was coined in the 1930's to represent the three major elements of dance in the three syllables of the word Bharatha - bhava (facial expression), raga (melody), and tala (rhythm).
Originally, this art was known as sadi or dasiattam, and was performed in Hindu temples by female dancers called devadasis, or servants of God. Performances were a part of daily rituals and religious or festive occasions, where dance was considered to be an offering to the deities. Eventually, this dance form made its way into the royal courts, and in the 18th and 19th century Thanjavur courts, Bharatha Natyam developed into its present form. A period of decline in popularity was followed by a revival of Bharatha Natyam in the 1920's and 30's, after which it found its place on the modern stage.
Bharatha Natyam is known for its rhythmic, vigorous footwork, crisp movements, sculpturesque poses and combining the energy of its Nritta (rhythmic movements) with the emotion of its Nritya (expressive movements).