Bharat Natyam is a popular classical dance form of South India. It is related to Devdasis. For the beautiful expression and artistic presentation of Bharat Natyam, much credit goes to Devdasis. The teachers of Bharat Natyam called Nattuvan were considered to be acharyas of this art. These Nattuvahs used to train their female disciples free of charge. After training, their disciples used to earn and give a part of their earnings to their teachers.
Being naturally religious, in southern provinces Bharat Natyam was popularised by Devdasis in temples. These Devdasis could be divided into three categories :-
Bharat Natyam is considered famous for its spectacular speed and expressions through body movements.
The presentation of the dance can be divided into following seven sequential stages:
- AHaripu: the dance begins with prayer mudra which is considered Allaripu. It is characterised by identical positioning of both sides of the body. Movement of neck, eyes, eyebrows is called ‘Rechak’ and movements of both sides of the body is identical.
- Jethiswaram: In the second stage the dance is accompanied with singing which is called Jethiswaram.
- Shabdam: In the third stage, prayer is offered to the Lord and the king is praised through poems.
- Varnam: In this stage ’emoting’ and ‘footwork’ reach their climax and the Nayika emotes some Shringaric story.
- Padam: The dancer emotes on poems in this stage.
- Tillana: This is the sixth stage. A spectular effect is created with rapid speed of ghunghroos and most beautiful body movements
- Shlokam: By reciting shlokas in Sanskrit, prayers are offered to Lord Krishna.
Costume of Bharat Natyam: The dancers wear tight dhoti (Langdar) in which an attractive dhoti with pleats is joined in the centre; which at the time of foot work spreads like peacock feathers between the legs. Patka and kamarbandh add further attraction to the costume.
Men usually wear a Patka and Kanthi (a type of necklace) while women wear choli and special garlands.