Yesterday evening, I was invited by Asha Sunilkumar to attend the solo performance of upcoming danseuse and 10th grade student, Shriya Srinivas, conducted at the newly constructed Kashinath Ghanekar Sabhagruha, located close to my residence in Thane. During the last year, I attended the Bharatnatyam program titled ‘Navarasa to Ramarasa’ at the Gadkari Hall, Thane west.
Bharatnatyam is one of the ancient Indian classical dances that are based on ‘Natya Shastra’ originated from Tamil Nadu. Today, Bharatnatyam is rightly recognized as the national dance of India. It is believed that this dance form is mainly the renewal of Cathir, an old art of temple dancers. It has been named after Bharat Muni, author of the bible of classical Indian dance called ‘Natya Shastra’. The word ‘Bharatnatyam’ is composed of the terms, ‘Bhava’ which means expression, ‘Raga’ which stands for melody, ‘Tala’ which means rhythm and ‘Natya’ is for dance. In other words, this dance form is a communion of expression, melody and rhythm. The dance is accompanied by the classical Carnatic music. It has emerged as an offering to gods in temples of South India. The dance is famous for its grace and perfection of movements which makes it vibrant and influential. In short, Bharatnatyam is an attempt to represent the divine beauty, magic, rhythms and symbols that are present in heaven. Today, it has become an integral part of a girl’s upbringing in southern part of India and among south Indian families settled abroad.
The philosophy behind this dance is to search the human soul (‘Atma’) within us and unite with the Supreme Being ( ‘Mahatma’). While the dance itself is absolutely appealing and enigmatic, what makes it all the more compelling is the traditional dress and a touch of makeup. Outfit for female dancers is made from bright colored Kanjivaram silk sari which is of two types; the pajama-style costume comprising of blouse, pajama and two or four fan-shaped pieces overlapping each other at the waist, with a big one ending at ankles. Another one is half-sari which has a blouse, dupatta and a pleated skirt. Male dancers wear a pajama or dhoti and at times a scarf wrapped around their shoulders tucked in front into a belt, made of Kanjivaram silk cloth. The attire looks very elegant and enhances the grace of dance movements.
(Bharatnatyam exponent, Asha Sunilkumar (at the center) and her husband Sunilkumar, founded the ‘Sanskriti – Academy of Fine Arts, Thane’ in the year 1998 to promote as well as restore the Indian culture of Dance, Singing and Music)
Music for Bharatnatyam is based on Carnatic classical music. Veena, Flute, Mridangam and Violin are the instruments used for music.