Bharatanatyam, a pre-eminent Indian classical dance form presumably the oldest classical dance heritage of India is regarded as mother of many other Indian classical dance forms. Conventionally a solo dance performed only by women, it initiated in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu and eventually flourished in South India. Theoretical base of this form traces back to ‘Natya Shastra’, the ancient Sanskrit Hindu text on the performing arts. A form of illustrative anecdote of Hindu religious themes and spiritual ideas emoted by dancer with excellent footwork and impressive gestures its performance repertoire includes nrita, nritya and natya. Accompanists include a singer, music and particularly the guru who directs and conducts the performance. It also continues to inspire several art forms including paintings and sculptures starting from the spectacular 6th to 9th century CE temple sculptures.
Bharatanatyam is accompanied by music of the Carnatic style, that has been specialized for dance.
Nritta: Abstract dance movements with rhythm, but without expression of a theme or emotion. Also called pure dance.
Nritya: Interpretive dance, using facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movements to portray emotions and express themes.
Natya: The dramatic aspect of a stage performance, including spoken dialogue and mime, to convey meaning and enact narrative.
Like many other Indian dance forms Bharatanatyam too has different postures and poses. A performer needs to elegantly maintain balance throughout the performance. The different body movements called Karanas are beneficial to improve balance. While performing Karana a performer needs to stay in one posture for a few seconds. The posture can be compared to standing on one foot for few seconds without losing balance.
Bharatanatyam is associated with facial expressions and non verbal communication. In this dance form hand gestures and facial expressions are used to communicate and express feelings. Sometimes even props are used to add to the visual element. Various Mudras (symbols and positions) formulate the dance form. The Mudras work out various body parts and improve flexibility.
Bharatanatyam movements make use of various muscles tissues. Few hours of practice can give you a good exercise and improve your stamina. Practicing Bharatanatyam boosts endurance. Moving all limbs together at the same time, while the eyes follow whatever the hands do, requires a lot of stamina. Getting a single step perfectly correct slowly can take time but it builds stamina.
Increases aerobics fitness
Practicing Bharatanatyam can give you all the benefits that you get by doing aerobics. Dancing is good for your overall physical fitness. The rapid body movements in this dance form boosts blood circulation thus helping you live a long and healthy life.
Bharatanatyam makes the body and even the mind agile. For any dancer it is very important to remember the Mudras, Hastas and Karnas to perform the dance well. A performer needs to remember steps, names of the various steps, different moves, the beats and rhythm of the song. With all this a dancer has to pay attention if the body movements are in sync. This hones the mental skills and builds mental alertness.
Dance and fitness always go hand in hand. Not only Bharatanatyam but any form of dance is beneficial for the heart. Dancing boosts blood circulation, pumps blood faster and gets you closer to a healthy heart.
Every student of Bharatanatyam understands the value of practice. With the lessons of Bharatanatyam comes a very important lesson of life that 'Practice makes a man Perfect'. It is only regular dance practice that helps a student rise to a higher degree of performance. This builds endurance in a person and makes him ready to pursue perfection. This can even translate to an everyday life value. Whether, it is making an egg, achieving better grades or making a presentation, getting better becomes a habit.
Dance forms like Bharatanatyam makes muscles active. A good performance of Bharatanatyam requires good practice. Practicing dance regularly helps lose and control weight. The complex movements, jumps and taut hand gestures use energy. So while you may be focused in getting a particular step right you are burning calories and controlling weight.
Healthy and glowing skin
A Bharatanatyam performer uses his eyebrows, eyes, neck and lips to convey an expression. Bharatanatyam performer put forward different expressions such as happiness, anger, surprise, sadness, jealousy and love. The constant movement of facial muscles makes facial tissues strong thus improving the complexion. Regular Bharatanatyam performers have glowing and healthy skin. They even have graceful eyes. The movements of eyes strengthen the eye muscles which in turn makes vision clear and healthy.
This classical Indian dance form is full of health benefits. If you want to trim those flabby arms and shape-up the thunder thighs then get yourself a pair of ghungroos (feet bells) and get on the floor with your instructor. You will surely dance your way to a lighter and healthier you.