‘Sindhubhairavi’ imparts training in the THANJAVORE Style of Bharathanatya. This style of dance has carved a niche and is known for its rigorous footwork and aesthetic grace in movements.
“Bharathanatya” as a traditional and spiritual Indian dance form, is resplendent with elegant movements and complemented by aesthetic costumes and jewellery. The origin of this art form dates back to many centuries. Bharathanatya is known to have had its beginning in the temples of Tamilnadu and later, spreading to other parts of South India. In Samskritha (often referred to as Sanskrit), the oldest and the most profound of languages, Bharathanatya is a combination of two words, Bharatha and Natya. “Bharatha” is a mnemonic of BHA-RA-THA and “Natya” refers to the aspect of theatre in which dance plays a very significant role. Elucidating further, BHA refers to bhaava – emotions; RA refers to raga – melody; and THA refers to thaala – rhythm. Thus, Bharathanatya is a dance form that is a beautiful amalgamation of expression, music and movement.
“Natya Shastra,” a text known to have been compiled by Sage Bharatha, stands as the authority to educate ourselves about this art form. This treatise is exhaustive in nature and enables us to deeply understand the ancient Indian theatre. It opens up a plethora of opportunities for creative expression.
Bharathanatya, for the purpose of training, has been classified into “Nritta,” “Abhinaya,”and “Nritya.” Nritta comprises of rigorous footwork and body movements woven to intricate and logical rhythmic patterns. Abhinaya is essentially the way of communicating an idea, a story or emotions through facial expressions and hand gestures (mudras). Nrithya is a combination of Nritta and Abhinaya.
Lord Nataraja or Lord Shiva, the cosmic dancer, is the revered god of dance. He represents the ever relevant truth of the cycle of life – creation, sustenance and resolution. The smiling Nataraja, with his extravagantly spread hair, performs the “Tandava.” He holds a damaru (a small drum) in his right hand whose beats remind of the first sounds of creation and the beat of the drum is also considered to provide the heartbeat of the cosmos, the maya. Conversely, in Shiva’s upper left hand he holds agni, the divine fire, which will destroy the universe. His lower right hand makes the abhaya hastha, a gesture of blessing to calm all fears and the lower left arm sweeps across his torso with the hand pointing to his left foot in the gesture of gaja hasta, symbol of salvation and liberation. Shiva’s right foot is shown stamping on the dwarf figure Apasmara Purusha, who holds a cobra and who represents illusion and ignorance, leading humanity away from truth. The cobra motif is repeated and hangs slain from Shiva’s right arm. The god usually wears only a short dhoti which is tied around his waist with a sash. Typically, the two ends of the sash billow to the god’s dancing movement and reach out to join the ring of fire. Shiva also wears jewellery – necklaces, armlets, and anklets.