“I can do more. I can fill my life with spiritual grace.  
Wherever I go, I can teach how to live, how to make my home a centre of beauty.”  

Rukmini Devi     

Photo Balakrishnan Krishnakumar

Bharata Natyam is one of the most ancient and fascinating dances of India. Nowadays, it has spread to every continent and has been met with much enthusiasm all over the world. This art form has a spiritual foundation, a captivating scientific precision in its rhythms and movements, while depicting the complexity and richness of all human emotions. It is difficult to find such an aesthetically complete art.

In India, there are seven great styles of classical dancing. Bharata Natyam originated in Tamil Nadu. It is supposed to come from the fifth Veda (the Natya Veda), transmitted by Brahma to Bharata Muni. By order of Lord Shiva Nataraja, Tandu and Parvati would have taught Bharata Muni the masculine and feminine parts of the dance. The holy man would have then put together a treaty: the Natya Shastra that was passed on from generation to generation.

Bharata Natyam is composed of one part of pure dancing, the Nritta, and another part of expressive dancing, the Nritya. The Nritta is technical and rhythmic and only has a decorative purpose. As for the Nritya, it tells a story, conveys the meaning of a song through body movement and facial expression. That is what we call the Abhinaya.