I am a bharatanatyam dancer and I’m writing this post to promote the dance form. I will be quick with the history, origin etc
India has been known for its culture and historic and unique dance forms and music. There are eight classical dance forms of India and all are guided by the religious text Natya Shastra which literally translates to Dance treatise. It was written by a sage called Bharat Muni.
Bharatanatyam is among the oldest dance forms which can be traced back to 2nd century. There are many theories regarding the origin of the name. The word is broken into two ” Bharata” meaning hindu and “natyam” meaning dance. Another theory says that it is made from three elements “bha” meaning bhaav ( emotions and feelings), “ra” meanibg raag (melody), “ta” meaning taal (rhythm) because the form is made from these three.
The decline of Bharatanatyam started after the arrival of the East India Company and commencement of colonial rule which treated the dance form as vulgar and banned it. It led to decline of the dance form. The dance form used to be performed by women called “devdasis” meaning servants of God in 16th century.
It was when the popular artist Rukmini Devi Aurandale revived Bharatanatyam after constant revolt. She not only promoted and revived the form in India but also abroad.This made the dance form popular and demanding abroad. I’m really proud that I learnt this form and yesterday I got my degree in which I passed with flying colours.
The sad truth is that despite being of Indian culture, today’s youth doesn’t value the dance form and mocks it. I was surprised to see the response in Austria when I performed there. They all were awestruck. They weren’t acquinted to the dance form but still it felt they understand it more than most of the Indians. Last year, I asked my school teacher to present the form differently, inspired from the youtube video of Poonam and Priyanka. You can checkout their video here. When I performed the similar fusion style at my school, it was that moment when everyone realised how incredible this form can get and I got popular among my teachers and schoolmates.
The beauty of the dance form lies in its unique half sitting posture, elegance and “mudras” meaning depictions by hands. The sad truth is that foreigners appreciate the form more than Indians do and still Indians take pride in it.