“Indian Classical Dances; Bharatanatyam the Elite Form”

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There are eight individual and unique classical dances in India. Each has its own distinctive dance movements, make-up, and costumes. The classical dance forms that have developed in India all have set rules which have been followed traditionally over the years. This set of rules that the classical dances follow is called the Natya Shastra. This is the ancient text that all Indian classical dances obey by in order for them to be called a “classic”. The eight forms that have succeeded in reaching the conventions of the Natya Shastra are: the Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Mohiniyattam, and Sattriya. Among all eight of these dances I argue that Bharatanatyam is the most elite form of all these dances because if its rich history, its exceptional dance aesthetics and technique and its distinctive costume and the make-up that each devadasi possesses.

Bharatanatyam dance is said to be the oldest of the classical dances. Bharatanatyam is a combination of sculptures poses, with beauty and grace presented by the performer. This Southern born classical dance was developed in Tamilnadu. In the book Indian Classical Dance, by Kapila Vatsyayan, Vatsyayan argues that there are two different sources that somebody can look at to uncover the affluent history of the dance style the Bharatanatyam. The first being, the Tamil sources, “Two important Tamil works, namely Shilappadhikaram and the Manimekhalai of the Sangam literature, refer to the art of dancing. The word used is Kuttu of whose two types mentioned viz. (I) Shanti Kuttu, and the (II) Vinoda Kuttu”(20). Many intellectual people have come to the findings the Shanti Kuttu is the classical form and Vinoda Kuttu represents the entertainment side o...

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...ver the world. With the edition of the superior Carnatic music of the south and Bharatanatyam’s treasured costumes, Bharatanatyam Indian classical dance is one that will be practiced and remember for decades to come.

Work Cited Page

Janet O’Shea, “ ‘Traditional’ Indian Dance and the Making of Interpretive Communities,” Asian Theatre Journal vol. 15, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 45-63.

Stable URL:

Kapila Vatsyayan, “Bharatanatyam,” from Indian Classical Dance, 3rd ed. New Delhi: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1997 , pp. 20-32.

Tamashiro. "Devadasi." Key Words. Print.

YouTube - Dance from The River. Perf. Srimati Radha. Jean Renoir's Movie 'The River', 1950s. YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 13 Jan. 2009. Web. 01 June 2010. .
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