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Date : 01-03-2011

Music Festival

Sarayu Sai is a Bharatanatyam Dancer who in the initial years trained in Bharatanatyam by just watching dance performances...

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Bharathanatyam as currently practiced is one of the major classical dance forms in existence. It is one of the most sophisticated dance traditions in the world. It is rapidly becoming popular and appreciated all over the world.

In historical times there is abundant evidence of the importance of dance as one of the performing arts in Indian culture generally and specifically in Tamil society where Bharathanatyam originated and evolved. Surviving texts of the golden age of Tamil literature and poetry known as the Sangam Age (early centuries A.D.) such as the Tolkappiyam, as well as the Silappadikaram testify to a variety of dance traditions which flourished in these times.

In ancient Tamil works, dance was called Aadal, Koothu, Chinnamelam. It is only in the recent decades that the dance form has come to be known as Bharathanatyam.

Koothus can be classified as under
(a) Santi Koothu and
(b) Vinoda Koothu.

Pandyas and Pallavas (4th Century to 9th Century A.D.)
The Pandya, rulers Madurai and the Pallavas of Kanchipuram dominated the Tamil regions of the subcontinent during the 4th to 9th century A.D. Their devotion to the service of Gods gave birth to the Bhakti movement resulting in the emergence of saint poets like Alwars, Nammalwar, and Periyalwar.
The Chola rulers of Thanjavoor were also great believers in religion. The rulers extended their support to protect the art form.

Temples played an important role in propagating Bharathanatyam. Magnificent temples were built with “sculpuresque” poses. The Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavoor was built around 1000 A.D. by Raja Raja, Chola King. It has many poses which show the reproduction of the “Karanas” as depicted in the Natya Shastra. “Karanas” are also found in the Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam and also at Chidambaram.

The temple dancers dedicated their lives for music and dance. They were known as “Devaradiyar”. Devadasis were of 3three types.
1.Devadasi – Who danced in front of the deity.
2.Rajadasi – Who danced in front of the kings.
3.Alankaradasi – Who danced at the rituals and functions.

Raja Sarfoji, an outstanding ruler, also devoted his time to the promotion of art and culture.

During the period of Raja Sarfoji, four brothers from Tanjore came to the lime light. They were Chinnaya, Ponnaya, Shivanandam and Vadivelu, the sons of Nattuvanar Subbarayan. They codified and framed the structure of the “Adavus” and “Margam” The death of Shivaji II in 1855 A.D. brought an end to the Maratha rule. During this Era, they suffered a lot, and many of them became victims of poverty.

Renaissance of Bharathanatyam:
The Renaissance was due to the keen interest and pains taken by the custodians, and promoters of the Art like E. Krishna Iyer. E. Krishna Iyer also gave an opportunity for Mylapore Gowri Amma, to perform in various Sabhas in Chennai. Equal efforts were taken by Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale who gave this art form much needed awareness amongst audience around the globe. Her recitals became an asset to this Art form, Many leading legends of Bharathanatyam like, Dr. Padma Subramanyam, Smt. Smt Chitra Visweswaran, Shri. Dhanayans, and Prof. Sudha Rani Ragupathy and others also helped in promoting the Art through their recitals and lec–dems.

Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale and Shri. E. Krishna Iyer gave status to this Art form. In 1936, Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale founded “Kalakshetra” for Dance and Music.
Dance is Veda:

There was constant conflict between the Devas and the Asuras. So all the Devas went to Lord Brahma, and requested him to find a remedy to this chaos.
Brahma went into deep meditation recollecting the four Vedas, created the fifth veda called “Natya Veda” in order to uplift the spirit of the people.
He took the words from Rig Veda, Music from Sama Veda, Bhava from Yejur Veda and Rasa from Atharvana Veda and created Natya Veda.
Brahma taught his Natya veda to Bharatha Muni. Bharatha Muni in turn taught this to his hundred sons. Brahma created twenty four upsaras and delicate style was taught to theses upsaras.

Bharatha Muni then performed a drama called “Tripura Daham” in front of Lord Shiva. Shiva was elated and impressed by this drama. He requested his attendant thandu to teach them (100 sons) his dance. As this dance was taught by Thandu, it came to be called as ‘Thandava Nrithyam’. Lasya the other aspect of Shiva’s dance was taught through Parvathi to the world