Definition

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Bharatnatyam is said to be the dance of "Bharat" which is India.  According to some scholars,  “Bhava”, “Taal”, “Raaga”, “Natya” – the 4 indispensable elements of a complete performance when clubbed together form Bharatnatyam.  Thus, Bharatanatyam is the dance form that unites expression, music & rhythm (Bhaavam, Raagam & Talam).  The tinkle of Ghunghroo, synchronizing with the fast movements of the dancer's feet combining with the hand gestures (Mudra) and expressions (Abhinaya) to form a theme is performed as a yagnya (act of worship) to the Lord. 

Bharatanatyam forms a major tradition of performing arts in India.—The classical dance form of Bharatanatyam appears as a subtle synthesis of philosophy, religion, sculpture, dance, music, and literature. It gathers all these strands and sets them in motion. Bharatanatyam includes ethics, aesthetics, and social reality in it. To quote Prathibha Prahahlad, “Bharatanatyam is by fact a socioaesthetic phenomenon, embedded in Hinduism that detaches beyond dance proper”.


Bharatanatyam is in essence an offering to the Almighty through mime, gesture, and the rhythm of the dancing feet,” says Manjula Narasimhan.   Bharatanatyam has a grammar of its own, with tandava and lasya as important parts. In general, the main elements of Bharatanatyam are nritta and nritya.  The nritta sequences are based on the aḍavu system and the nritya sequences are based on the abhinaya portions.