The Traditional Dance of India

What is it?

Bharathanatyam is the traditional dance of India. It originated in the Tamil Nadu region. Bharathanatyam is the expressions of Hindu religious themes such as devotion and technique. Dancers of Bharathanatyam use many parts of their body to express Hindu beliefs. Their hands tell the story as their feet move in complicated rhythms. The dancer's neck, shoulders and arms all are part of the movement. The dance of Bharathanatyam is all done usually by one dancer, for two hours without interruption. During the dance, the performer does not change costume, or leave the stage. The dancer is accompanied by and orchestra of drums, drone and a singer. The guru (teacher) occupies the back of the stage while the dancer does complicated and traditional movements.
A beautiful Bharathanatyam dancer performing the two hour traditional dance in a elegant costume.


The costume of the Bharathanatyam is very important, especially because you are telling a story throughout the dance. During the dance, their is no costume changes, so you must have a costume that fits perfectly with the mood of your dance. Many dancers wear silk with gold embroidery designs. The skirt or end of the dress on the costume is made to be pleated so it will elegantly open and flow. Dancers mostly wear temple jewelry , which is worn in traditional Indian dances. Temple jewelry is made from silver, with gem stones attached to match the color of the performer's costume. The costume of the dancer brings out the liveliness of the dance.


Bharatanatyam started in 2 BC! It is said that the gods were bored, and decided to start up a new type of entertainment. The gods decided to make up Bharatanatyam for a way of worship and devotion.
The meaning of Bharatanatyam come from the sanskrit words meaning BHA- expression, RA- music , TA- rhythm and NATYAM- dance.

A Famous Bharatanatyam Dancer

Rukmini Devi is a very famous Bharatanatyam dancer. She was born in 1904 and loved culture, and learning. She also loved dancing. At the beginning, Rukmini loved Russian ballet, until her teacher advised her to learn Bharatanatyam contemporary dance. She changed Bharatanatyam into something even better. She highlighted parts of the dance that made her shine. She also corrected moves that made the dance more meaningful. She was a great dancer, and soon later a great teacher.