Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bharata Natyam

BHA- Bhava (Expression), RA- Raga (Music) and TA- Tala (Rhythm)

bharata natyam, ( Sanskrit: “Bharata’s dancing”) the principal of the main classical dance styles of India, the others being kuchipudikathakkathakalimanipuri, and odissi. It is indigenous to the Tamil Nadu region and prevalent in southern India. Bharata natyam serves the expression of Hindu religious themes and devotions, and its techniques and terminology have been traced back to ancient treatises such as the Natya-shastra, by the Brahman sage and priest Bharata. Bharata natyam was originally performed exclusively by female temple dancers and was not brought to the stage for public performance until about 1930.

Traditionally the dance was performed by Devadasis (community of temple dancers) in the ancient temples. The Devadasis were women who dedicated their lives to serving the temple deity as dancers and musicians and their performances were an inherent part of the elaborate temple and court rituals.

As we understand Bharatanatyam better, we shall see that the whole body is used to express and reach out to the audience. The gestures using one or two hands are an important part of this expression.

Gestures are not new to us since we use them in our day to day activities also! Just take some time and think of what gesture you would use for following situations:
  • To call a person
  • To point at an object
  • To show drinking
  • Denote a snake
Obviously, we have used some gesture or the other to express the above. So hand gestures are a basic mode of communication. Gesture is a symbolic action by which a thought, a feeling or intention is expressed.
Nritta hastas are a very integral part of any classical Indian dance. These hastas are more or less common for all the classical dances. In Bharatanatyam, hand gestures are used both in Nritta and Nritya.
In Bharatanatyam, hand gestures are divided into two categories:
  1. Asamyukta Hasta – That which is done with one hand or single hand gestures. They are 28 in number.
  2. Samyukta Hasta – That which is done using both hands or double hand gestures. They are 23 in number.

Each hand gestures has many applications or Viniyogas which are described in Sanskrit Slokas of the natayashastra. For eg. Tripataka used in the Nattu Adavu is used to represent a crown, tree, thunder, applying Tilak etc. The interpretation of the gesture is based on the context in which it is used.

Concert Costumes

There are numerous patterns available to choose from today. The most common amongst them are:-
  The Skirt Style costume is usually used by the students practising theVazhuvoor and Kalakshetra style of Bharathanatyam. Its comfortable and easy when a change of costume is involved.
  This is variation of the skirt style with cross pleats- suitable for tall and slim girls.
  The Saree style costumes are suitable for slightly mature girls and women. It gives a sense of maturity and grace while performing padams and javalis.
  The Pyjama style costume is also very common. It is best used with children and slim women in items that requires the dancer to perform male roles or certain kind of poses and routines not condusive to be performed with the skirt or saree style.
  The Blouse for children does not require the thallaippu or pallu and is embellished with a fan.

The Typical Jewellery pieces used by a Bharathanatyam dancer include:-
HeadHead set, Sun and Moon, Rakudi,  etc
EarsEar studs, Jimmiki, Mattal
NoseNose ring, Nose stud and Bullaku ( optional)
WaistBelt or odiyanam
Feetanklet and the bells
HairUsually plaited and fixed with the black and gold kunjalam(South indian parandhi). Samll pendants may be fixed onto the plat.
These jewels are also worn by Kuchipudi dancersand South Indian brides. All the jewels need to be fitted firmly with thread, pins or stitched to ensure they do not move during the recital.
" The costume, jewellery, make-up and stage decoration are aimed at enhancing the beauty, charm and the aesthetic value of the dance performance. Yes, the jewellery worn by a dancer have a special significance: The 'chandran' and 'sooryan' (moon and sun) worn on the top of the head signify that their beauty and grace have descended upon the dancer. The 'thalai saaman' (chutti) emphasises the line of the forehead. The 'maatal' (worn covering the ear) is to protect the eardrums. The 'Maanga malai' worn on the chest above the navel prevents pulmonary disorders. The oddiyanam (belt worn around the waist) keeps the spinal chord straight. Bangles protect the wrists, rings encourage philanthropy and anklets give strength to the ankles of the dancer." Prof. (Smt.) Sudharani Ragupathy
Make UpLike any stage art, Bharathanatyam requires enhanced facial make up inorder to make her facial expresssions and gestures visible seated further away from the dancer. A base or a foundation, eyeliner, lip stick, lip liner,shades are the cosmetics necessary while applying the make up. While choosing the foundation care has to be taken to match the skin tone of the dancer. Exposed portions of the feet, hands and neck are to be treated with the foundation too. The hands and the feet are decorated with alts- a red tinted pigment to delineate the hand and feet positions.
If the performance is for a smaller audience in a smaller venue , or if is a video recording it is important to use a little more natural and well defined make up.

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