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Nātya: he/she dances (Sanskrit)

Classical Indian Dance


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Keep the song in your throat

Let your hands bring out the meaning

Your face should be full of expression

while your feet maintain the rythm

Bharatanatyam is the classical dance style of South India, developed out of the temple rituals and the classical Indian theatre, which has a 2000 years old written tradition. Its expression today goes back to the 18th century and the courts of the South Indian Maharajas.


The word Bharatanatyam derives from the first syllable of the words bhava (expression), raga (melody), tala (rhythm) and natyam (dance).


There are two aspects of the dance: Nrtta, the abstract or pure dance and Nrtya or Abhinaya, the narrative dance, where the dancer, using facial expressions and poses of the body and hand gestures (hastas), describes the contents of a song. The dancer identifies himself/herself with gods and humans and describes their emotions and actions. Bharatanatyam is intimately linked to the Hindu religion and mythology.


The basic concept of all Indian dances is Shiva Nataraja; God himself is the supreme dancer. With his divine dance he creates the Universe, he preserves it and he also destroys it. All matter is moving and is a part of God's cosmic dance,  the circle of birth and rebirth; all is Shivas' dance.


Modern physics has shown what Indian philosophy has found out through meditation: movement and rhythm are the main properties of matter. The entire universe is in constant movement and activity. All matter takes part in the eternal cosmic dance. 



"Art is the international language in which mind can speak to mind, heart to heart, where lips are dumb. The arts need no translations, they speak the universal mother tongue. Centuries do not age them. Boundaries do not exist for them. Their message is for every country, for every tongue..."

Dr. Annie Besant - Kalakshetra 

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