Odissi dance lives on in the ancient temple sculptures and friezes of the State of Orissa on the eastern coast of India. Neglected in this century, it has been less well known and less practiced than Bharata Natyam.
...in the period from 1923 to 1948, known as the Bharata Natyam revival. Performers, critics, and promoters through Bharata Natyam to the urban proscenium stage, recontextualizing and renaming it. In doing so they crafted a genealogy in which Bharat Natyam came to represent ancient tradition and critical experimentation, nationalism, regional identities and the global transference forms outside of geographical and cultural boundaries.
Unlike ballet, the demi plié of Bharata Natyam is not an intermediary position from which the body moves. The Indian technique demands a muscular consolidation of this position by allowing the weight of the lower body to ‘earth’ it. The arms in natya-aramba in a semi circular shape peculiar to Bharata Natyam create three-dimensional effect to the circle and trace its curve.
Bharata Natyam is grounded in bhakti. In fact bhakti is at the center of all the arts of India. Our music and dance are two important offerings to God.Balasaraswati
Bharata Natyam is an art which consecrates the body which is considered to be in itself of no value. The Yogi by controlling his breath and by modifying his body acquires the halo of sanctity. Even so, the dancer who dissolves her identity in rhythm and music makes her body an instrument at least for the duration of the dance for the experience and expression of the spirit.
...the traditional order of the Bharata Natyam recital viz., Alarippu , Jatiswaram , Sabdane , Varnam, Padams, Tillana and the Slokas is the correct sequence in the practice of this art, which an artistic Yoga , for revealing the spiritual through the corporeal.
At the beginning of the twenty first century, the global status of Bharata Natyam renders the form even more visible.
Maharaja Swati Tirunal of Travancore (1813-1847) wrote 67 padams in Sanskrit, Telugu , Kannada and |Malayalam and he introduced them in Bharata Natyam performance by artists patronized by him in his own state. His padams have a rare literary flavour and the padams of this composer are becoming increasingly popular in the Bharat Natyam field…
Raja Srfoji II (1798-1832), the Maratha ruler of Thanjavur rendered a unique service to Bharata Natyam from a different angle. Thanjavur is considered to be the home of Bharta Natyam and the art was at its peak during his time...Serfoji wrote chain compositions in Marathi for use in dance dramas in the Bharata Natyam style and many of these padams and abhinaya padams are intended for choreography.
Rukmini Devi Arundale was an invaluable contributant to the rebirth of Bharata Natyam as an accepted dance form, removing the unpleasant eroticism of dasi attam , and like Queen Santala of the eleventh century, showing that dance is a means of expression for all and is a true form of beauty.
The introduction of the Shiva as the central deity to the form, a god who incinerates impurity introduced to Bharata Natyam, a modality quite outside that of devadasi dance, a dance preoccupied with cataloguing the infinite shadings of feeling in love.
...there is nothing in Bharata Natyam which can be purified afresh; it is divine as it is and innately so. The sringara we experience in Bharata Natyam is never carnal; never, never. For those who have yielded themselves to its discipline line with total dedication, dance, like music is the practice of the Presence. It cannot be merely the body’s rapture.
The rules of Bharata Natyam nritta by referring to purely geometric ideals, make it also a totally objective dance.
The ‘musical notes’ in Bharata Natyam are the adavus – units of dance which contain in them the alphabet and grammar of the dance.
Generally Shiva is associated with Tandava dance...found in the Natyashastra of sage Bharata.
Natya Shastra was the root for both Bharata Natyam and Kathak, and both are of the same period. Kathak, which flourished in the North , was in the direct eye of the typhoon of invasions.
In Andhra, particularly the Bharata Sashtra had been highly developed in the medieval times, in the courts of the Kakatiyas, Reddis, Rayas and Nayudus of Warangal , Kondavidu, Vijyanagar and Racakinda. In the Kuchipudi tradition, the Bhagavatas of Andhra preserved a considerable amount of the knowledge of Bharta Sastra.
Manipuri dance has both similarities and differences with other Indian Dances. The movements of Manipuri dances are all found in the movement system described in the Bharata ’s Natyashastra. Most importantly, the music system, especially the tala system in Manipuri dance is very similar to that used in the major music systems in India with a few regional variations.
The Natya Shastra, an ancient text on dance and drama, written by Bharata Muni has mentioned four styles of classical dance prevalent in different parts of India; they are Avanti, Daksinatya, Panchali, and Audra Magadhi. Audra here refers to Odisha. Another text Abhinay Chandrika, stated that there were schools of dancing in India; one amongst them was Audra belonging to Odisha.
Swords cut him not, nor may fire burn him, O son of Bharata, waters wet him not, nor dry winds parch. He may not be cut nor burned nor wet nor withered; he is eternal, all-present, firm, unshaken, everlasting. He is called unmanifest, unimaginable, unchanging; therefore, knowing him thus, deign not to grieve!
This body, O Kaunteya, is called the Field; he who knows it is called knower of the Field by those who know. And understand Me to be, O Bharata, the knower of the Field in all the Fields; and the knowledge of the Field and the knower of the Field, I hold, is true knowledge.
In him alone seek refuge with all thy being, Bharata; by his grace shalt thou win to peace supreme, the eternal resting place.
The aesthetics and the artistry of Bharata Natyam alike make us realise that sringara has pride of place here. In a sense, Bharata Natyam is a combination of the yoga and mantra sastras. The mudras of the mantra shastras are the same as the hand gestures of Bharata Natyam.Balasaraswati