Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form originating in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This dance form denotes various 19th and 20th century reconstructions of Sadir, the art of temple dancers. Sadir in turn, is derived from ancient dance forms that includes some acrobatic karanas. Bharatnatyam is usually accompanied by Carnatic music. It has its inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram. Bharatanatyam, as the name depicts is the combination of:
‘Bha’ – Bhavam (means expression), ‘Ra’ – Ragam (means music), ‘Ta – Talam (means beat or rhythm) and Natyam (means dance) in Tamil.
A possible origin of the name is from Bharata Muni, who wrote the Natya Shastra to which Bharathanatyam owes many of its ideas. This etymology also holds up to scrutiny better since Bharathanatyam is pronounced with short (kuril) forms of “bha”, “ra” and “tha” whereas each of “bhavam”, “ragam” and “talam” contain the long (nedil) forms. Hence the initialization proposed above is more probably a backronym.
Bharatanatyam is a reworked dance-form from the traditional “sadir” known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and sculpturesque poses. Today, it is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by male and female dancers all over the world.