Bharatnatyam is one of the most sublime of the Indian classical dances. It emerged in Tamil Nadu and among all the Indian classical dances Bharatnatyam is the most ancient. It is considered to be about 2000 years old and it follows the principles of Natya Shastra (the Bible of Indian Classical Dance).

In this dance form the dancers make considerable use of hand-and-eye movements to express different emotions. Bharatnatyam is a term derived from the four most important elements of dance (in Sanskrit).

These are:

  • Bha from Bhava (emotion)
  • Ra from Raaga (music or melody)
  • Ta from Taala ( rhythm)
  • Natyam meaning dance.

Thus Bharatnatyam is an amalgamation of emotion, music, rhythm and expression. Bharatnatyam encompasses all the traditional aspects of classical dance: the mudras (hand positions), abhinaya (facial expressions), and padams (narrative dances).

History of Bharatnatyam
Bharatnatyam has a fascinating history. The dance form of Bharatnatyam is actually an integration of a number of different elements from the traditional forms of Dassi Attam and Sadr. A dance form followed by the devadasis is known as Dassi Attam while Sadr is a form performed in the Royal palaces of south of India.

Proponents of Bharatnatyam:
One of the most eminent contributors to the development of Bharatnatyam was E Krishna Iyer of

Some of the proponents of Bharatnatyam are as follows:

  • Pandanallur Jayalakshmi
  • Jeevaratnam
  • Dance Queen Balasaraswathi
  • Smt. Rukhmini Devi Arundale
  • Guru Meenakshisundaram Pillai
  • Ram Gopal
  • Mrinalini Sarabhai and others