Indian Bharatnatyam dancers are performers of the national dance form of India. With their graceful movements and expressive gestures, they bring to life the rich cultural heritage of the country. Bharatnatyam is a classical dance style that dates back approximately 2000 years and follows the principles outlined in the Natyashastra, an ancient treatise on performing arts. In this dance form, Bharatnatyam dancers skillfully combine hand-and-eye movements to convey various emotions and tell captivating stories.
The Ideal Bharatnatyam Dancer
According to the Natya Shastra, female Bharatnatyam dancers, or narthakis, possess specific qualities that make them suitable for this art form. They are expected to have beautiful limbs, be well-versed in the sixty-four arts and crafts, be clever and disease-free, exhibit courteous behavior, excel in beauty, be courageous and hardworking, and demonstrate proficiency in dancing and singing. Bharatnatyam is a harmonious blend of music, emotion, rhythm, and expression, which is brought to life by these talented dancers. They must master the traditional aspects of classical dance, such as mudras (hand positions), abhinaya (facial expressions), and padams (narrative dances).
Prominent Bharatnatyam Classical Dancers
India has been blessed with a multitude of talented Bharatnatyam dancers who have significantly contributed to the development and promotion of this art form. One such legendary dancer is E Krishna Iyer from Chennai. In 1927, he organized the first All India Music Conference in Madras, which led to the establishment of The Music Academy in 1928. Iyer's efforts played a pivotal role in popularizing Bharatnatyam and fostering its growth.
Guru Meenakshisundaram Pillai, known for his modesty, founded the Pandanallur school of Bharatanatyam. His style emphasized grace and elegance, setting the stage for future generations of dancers to follow. Balasaraswathi was renowned for her enchanting and exquisite sancharibhavas (expressions) in Abhinaya. She mesmerized audiences with her unique interpretation of emotions through dance.
Smt. Rukhmini Devi made a groundbreaking contribution to Bharatnatyam by rectifying its theory and reviving its true essence. She designed the costumes artistically, introduced exquisite jewelry and ornaments, and elevated the dance form to new heights. Mrinalini Sarabhai, on the other hand, explored contemporary interpretations of mythological stories, infusing them with a fresh perspective.
The list of remarkable Bharatnatyam dancers continues with Leela Rammohan Rao, who received training from advocates of the traditional dance form. Srinidhi Chidambaram, a doctor by profession, possesses an innate talent for dance and has become an eminent Bharatnatyam dancer. Srekala Bharath is known for her adherence to the Vazhvoor style of dance, which she showcases with precision and grace. Priyadarshini Govind, a recipient of the prestigious "Kalaimamani" award, has established herself as one of the foremost exponents of Bharatnatyam.
Nalini Prakash, recognized for her exceptional talent, has been awarded the Scholarship for Bharatnatyam by the Government of India multiple times. Priya Murle is a multifaceted personality who has made a name for herself as an illustrious Bharatnatyam dancer. A. Lakshman stands out not only as a proficient dancer but also as a trained Carnatic musician. Kumari Kavitha Ramu, a disciple of the renowned Kalaimamani Srimathi K.J. Sarasa, has honed her skills under the guidance of a true master. Kalaimamani Srimathi K.J. Sarasa herself is a distinguished classicist with a career spanning over two decades, showcasing her graceful and gifted Bharatnatyam repertoire. Urmila Sathyanarayanan, known for her divine and devoted performances, has captivated audiences with her deep connection to the art form. Uma Muralikrishna, widely acclaimed and respected, possesses a solid foundation and extensive training in Bharatnatyam.
Starting their training at a tender age, Bharatnatyam classical dancers grow up to become proficient artists, owing their success to the guidance of their gurus. Swarnamailya Ganesh, the youngest recipient of the 'Yuvakala Bharati' award by the Bharat Kalachar, has already made a significant impact as a classical Bharatanatyam dancer. Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala, a skilled dancer herself, has established the 'Kalapradarshini' Trust to promote and preserve the art form. Suryanarayana Murthy, a highly skilled dancer, is pursuing his dream of creating a dance legacy through his dance schools, "Bharata Kshetra," in Chennai. Deepa Ganesh, with over two decades of experience, has garnered numerous accolades as a testament to her talent and dedication.
The Bharatnatyam dancers possess a remarkable ability to bring their stories to life, captivating audiences with their vivid portrayals. Malathi Iyengar, regarded as a visionary in the domain of arts, has made significant contributions to the sphere of Bharatnatyam. Ganga Thampi, with her creativity, skillfulness, and unwavering perseverance, has also left an indelible mark on Bharatnatyam.
Bharatnatyam Dancers upholding a Global Legacy
The Indian Bharatnatyam dancers have garnered international recognition, making their country proud while showcasing the creativity and richness of Indian culture to the world. Through their performances, these legendary dancers have not only preserved a classical legacy but also helped bridge the gap between traditional art forms and contemporary audiences.
Their dedication, talent, and relentless pursuit of perfection have inspired generations of dancers to embrace Bharatnatyam as a way to express themselves and connect with their cultural roots. By upholding the traditions and pushing the boundaries of the art form, these Bharatnatyam dancers have played a vital role in preserving and evolving this treasured Indian dance form.