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About Tamil Nadu Dance
in South-India, is anchored to age-old tradition. This vast sub-continent
has perpetuated to varied forms of dancing, each shaped by the influences of
a particular period and environment. These pristine forms have been
preserved through the centuries, to become a part of our present culture, a
living heritage which is both our pride and delight.
Nurtured in temples, princely courts or villages, dance has moved into the
auditorium of today, bringing pleasure to many more people, in far-flung
Utraced footprints of southern passion!
It is difficult to determine the age of Bharat Natyam; this is due to the
evolving nature of Indian dance. Although Bharat Natyam is a developed form
of Sadr and Dassi Attam, there are variations. If one feels that Bharat
Natyam is different enough to be considered a distinct genre, then we may
conspicuously say that it is only about 70 years old. On the contrary, if we
consider the differences to be insignificant, then we may push the age back
several centuries. However, in a general manner in which most artists date
Bharat Natyam back to the Natya Shastra is absolutely preposterous. The
cumulative changes that have occurred over the last 2000 years make such
statements totally baseless.
In its popular connotation, the name Bharat Natyam is understood in two
It is the dance (natyam), that beautifully blends the three elements -
'Bha'-Bhava (from expressions), 'Ra'-Raga (from musical melody) and
'Ta'-Tala (from rythm).
The name 'Bharata' is after the great author of the treaties, "NATYA
SHASTRA"(an encyclopedia on Dance, Drama and Music).
» The musical instruments used to accompany Bharat Natyam
- Manjira (Thalam)
Music & Soul concourse !
Bharatanatyam is an Indian classical dance form from the state of Tamil
Nadu, which represents the language of rhythm and melody in different
patterns of curves, angles and lateral movements. The basis of the dance is
the synchronization of rhythmic movements of the hands, symmetry of movement
in footwork, poetic gestures and facial expressions. Bharatanatyam has a
devotional basis and owes its origins to Devadasis (temple dancers).
Karagam is a folk dance with musical
accompaniment, performed balancing a pot on the head. Traditionally,
this dance was performed by the villagers in praise of the rain goddess
Mari Amman and river goddess, Gangai Amman, performed with literature
with water pots balanced on their heads.
Kummi is one of the most important and ancient
forms of village dances of Tamilnadu. It originated when there were no
musical instruments, with the participants clapping their hands to keep
time. This is performed by women.
This is done by girls dressed as peacocks,
resplendent with peacock feathers and a glittering headdress complete
with a beak. This beak can be opened and closed with the help of a
thread tied to it, and manipulated from within dress.
Kolaattam is an ancient village art. This is
mentioned in Kanchipuram as 'Cheivaikiyar Kolaattam', which proves its
antiquity. This is performed by women only, with two sticks held in each
hand, beaten to make a rhythmic noise.
This is an ancient folk dance form popular in
Trichy, Salem, Dharmapuri, Coimbatore and Erode. No other musical
instruments are used in this dance except the ankle-bells. This dance is
performed by men only, during temple festivals. Stories and episodes
centering around Murugan and Valli are depicted in the songs. As one of
the rare folk art forms of ancient Tamil Nadu, this is being practiced
now by the Telugu speaking people of the northern districts.
The ancient Tamils when they went on pilgrimage,
carried the offerings to the gods tied on the either end of the long
stick, which was balanced on the shoulders. In order to lessen the
boredom of the long travel they used to sing and dance about the gods.
Kavadi Aattam has its origin in this practice. Special songs were
created to be sung while carrying the Kavadi Sindhu. This dance is
performed only by men. It is done by balancing a pole with pots fixed on
either end, filled with milk or cocunut water.
Poikkal Kudirai Aattam
This is the Dummy Horse Dance where the dancer
bears the dummy figure of a horse's body on his/her hips. This is made
of light-weighted materials and the cloth at the sides swings to and fro
covering the legs of the dancer. The dancer dons wooden legs, which
sound like the hooves of the horse. The dancer brandishes either a sword
or a whip. This folk dance needs much training and skill. This dance is
accompanied by Naiyandi melam or Band music. This is connected to the
worship of Iyyanar, prevails manily around Thanjavur.