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Essentials about Bharatanatyam

The Gods & Godesses pleaded Lord Brahma to create another veda which would be simple for the common man to understand. It is believed that considering this request Lord Brahma created the Panchamaveda, Fifth veda, Natyaveda, an essence of the other four vedas. It is believed that he has taken pathya (words) form the Rigveda, abhinaya (gesture) from the Yajurveda, geet (music and chant) from Samaveda and rasa (sentiment and emotional element) from Atharvaveda to form the fifth veda, Natyaveda.
After creating this Natyaveda, Lord Brahma gave the same to sage Bharata and asked him to popularise this veda on earth. Following the words of Lord Brahma, sage Bharata wrote Natyashastra or the Science of Dramaturgy, a great, comprehensive work on the science and technique of Indian drama, dance and music. Bharatanatyam might have got its name from sage Bharata also.The dancers still follow this work to perform.

Indian Dance, Music and Theatre find their root in the Nătya Shăstra , an encyclopedia on dance, music and theatre.
Nătya Shăstra written by the sage Bharata or Bharatamuni is the most elaborate treatise believed to be written during the period between 200 B.C and 200 A.D. However, there are scholars who believe that it may have been written by various authors at different times.
In Indian mythology, Lord Shiva is considered as the supreme lord of dance. This divine art form is performed by Lord Shiva & his wife Goddess Parvathi.
The literal translation of 'Nătya' is Drama or Nătaka. Hence in a traditional Indian Drama, music and dancing as well as as acting are all importants parts for any presentation.

Nătya Shăstra is incredibly wide in its scope. It details the aspects of the script and the enacting of a play from the point of view of both; the author (playwright) and the actor. It describes ten classifications of drama ranging from one to ten acts. Besides, Bharat Muni has elaborately laid down the principles of stage-design, makeup, costume, dance (various movements & gestures), theory of aesthetics (Rasa-Bhava), acting, directing and music, each in individual chapters. It is written in Sanskrit language, composed mainly in 6000 Sutras or Verses or Stanzas , incorporated in 36 Chapters. There are some passages, that are composed in a prose form.

The art form has definitely gone through lot of changes over the years. In olden days it was performed mostly by female artists. They were called Devadasis, who would perform in the temples. These devadasis were accomplished artists who would sing, dance, play many instruments.
Năyikă in common terms, the heroine, is the main character potrayed by the indian dancer.Năyikă actually means a woman in love.
The Năyaka or the hero with whom the heroine is in love is equally important and is classified depending upon the type, nature, moods and emotions.

Then dance entered the royal courts. Here the artists called Rajanartakis, performed in the courts of kings who gave them shelter.Even these were accomplished artists like devadasis.
The next well-documented period of dance history is far more recent. In the first half of the 19th century the dance tradition was revitalized and defined anew through the contributions of four talented brothers (known today as the Tanjore Quartet)Chinniah, Sivanandam, Ponniah and Vadivelu. By coordinating their diverse talents, the four managed to organize all the basic dance movements of pure dance into a progressive series of lessons [adavu chapters]. Each adavu (basic unit of motion) was taught in systematic order and then combined with others to produce choreographed sequences based upon the rhythmic contour of a musical composition (Krishnamoorthy Pillai). In addition the brothers composed new music specifically for the dance, and introduced a different sequence of items which integrated the various aspects of dance and music into a carefully coordinated, aesthetically sound progression. This infusion of creative energy marks the early 19th century as one of the most innovative periods in the history of Indian dance.
Arangetram is a tamil word.Aranga meaning raised floor and Etram meaning climbing in Tamil,one of the south indian languages. Ideally this should be the first public performance of an artist. After learning bharatanatyam under the guidance of an accomplished guru, this is the occation for the proud guru to present his/her deciple to the public. This is the testing time for both the guru & the shishya(deciple) as the guru's knowledge & the deciple's talent both are judged by the public. Hence, the guru will decide when the deciple is ready for public appearence. Atleast 10 - 12 years of training is necessary to give a comendable performance.

Accompaniments play a major role in the making of a memorable dance performance.Basic accompaniments are a Singer, Mridangam player, Violin player and of cource the Natuvanga. Veena, Flute and other instruments are optional. These people sit in the corner of a stage or in a place in front of the stage which will be in a lower level than that of the stage.
The artist will wear lot of jewellery, make-up and a specially stitched dress.

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