Bharatanatyam: The Celebration of the Eternal Universe
April 3, 2009
I find it only fitting that I begin this blog with a very brief overview of Bharatanatyam, the classical dance form I’ve studied from the day my mother first pushed me onto a stage. Bharatanatyam is a South Indian dance style that is among the principal classical dance forms of India, as it’s a very spiritual dance form that is in essence a devout prayer between the dancer and God. It was originally a dance performed in Hindu temples and has since evolved into one of the most recognizable classical dance forms of India.
There are three major aspects to Bharatanatyam: Abhinaya, or dramatic story-telling; Nritta, or pure dance rhythm; and Nritya, a combination of both story-telling and movement. In addition to these techniques, Bharatanatyam also involves adavus, which are combinations of a series of steps, and hastas, hand gestures that symbolize various parts of Hindu mythology.
I found this nifty compilation of several different hastas from the blog Online Bharathanatyam Academy, which has much more information about the movements involved in Bharatanatyam:
Given its rich cultural roots, I was ecstatic to discover that Bharatanatyam was among the dances presented on the recent NBC’s Superstars of Dance, a televised dance competition that was advertised as the “Dance Olympics.” While the show had a dubious platform as a competition, the showcasing of different cultural dances was something that I couldn’t miss. Among the more talented performers that caught my eye, Mythili Prakash stood out as an exceptionally qualified Bharatanatyam dancer:
There weren’t many renowned Indian-American dancers around when I was studying this dance form as a young girl, so I think that Mythili Prakash is well on her way to establishing a greater presence in the world of Indian dance.
You can find out more about Mythili Prakash at her website here.