Essay: What Is Bharatanatyam?

  • Issue 203
  • Published By Sruti
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Special Feature
What Is Bharatanatyam?
Special Feature <br/> What Is Bharatanatyam?

Historically, Bharatanatyam is the dance-form christened as such by the Music Academy of Madras in the early nineteen thirties. It was known earlier as Dasiattam, Sadir or Karnatakam.

It thrived in the south of India. Then it spread to other parts of the country. Now it is a world art and heritage, flourishing particularly in the Indian diaspora.

Its grammar and aesthetics are today traced by many to Natya Sastra and to later works like Ahhinaya Darpana. However, while we do not properly know what the dance was like before early nineteenth century, what we know today as Bharatanatyam has developed from the shape it was given by the Tanjavur Quartet. And this legacy was preserved in practice mostly by the guru-s and performers belonging to the Isai Velalar community of Tamil Nadu.