Bharatanatyam (pronounced BARA-ta-NAT-yam) is one of the oldest forms of Indian classical dance, more than 2000 years old and with roots in South India. The dance embodies Hindu mythology and blows life into the sculptures that are ornamenting the temples of India. In bharatanatyam, gracious hand movements (mudras), facial expressions and foot work are united into a powerful dance expression that makes your body shiver of live.

Bharatanatyam is rooted in the myth, epic and folklore of India; themes from these sources form the inspiration for interpretation in this dance form. It is a style that lends itself to both solo and group choreography.

The term Bharathanatyam is actually a general term for all Indian dances, but has become synonymus with the South Indian dance. The word is the anagram from the first letters of Bhava (meaning expression), Raga (meaning music) and Tala (meaning rythm); and Natyam means dance.

The basic bharatanatyam dance movements are called adavus. They are taught in a systematic order and then combined with others to produce choreographed dance sequences based upon the rhythmic pattern of a musical composition. Thus, it is necessary to be patient and first learn the basic steps properly before being able to combine the movements into a graceful dance performance.

In the 20th century, the social status and image of bharatanatyam was restored by Rukminidevi Arundale, the founder of the dance insitution Kalakshetra which is famous in the whole world as the central bharatanatyam dance center. No single person has contributed as much as Rukminidevi Arundale has to the resurrection of Indian art and culture and towards upholding values of the Indian civilisation through the performing arts.

The following sloka below explains the uniqueness of Bharatanatyam compared to other art forms. This is the only system of art which exploits the body, the mind and the sentiments fully and brings an absolute co-ordination between all senses.

"Yato Hastaha Tato Dhrushtihi
Yato Dhrushtis tato Manaha
Yato Manas tato Bhavo
Yato Bhavas tato Rasaha"
"Where the hand goes, eye should be there
Where the eyes go, the mind should be there
Where the mind goes, energy should be there
Where the energy goes, appreciation should go."