Natyam & Sangeetham

Bharatanatyam

Originating in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest, yet widely practiced classical dance forms of India. Bharatanatyam is the ‘natyam’ or dance that comprises ‘Bhava’ (expression), ‘Raga’ (music) and ‘Thala’ (rhythm). It has undergone a lot of change over the centuries but is still deeply rooted in the spiritual heritage of India. In the first half of the 19th century Bharatanatyam was redefined by the contributions of four talented brothers known as the Tanjore Quartet. They organised all the basic movements of pure dance into a progressive series (adavus), composed new music specifically for Bharatanatyam and introduced a sequence of items which integrated various aspects of dance and music into a carefully coordinated, aesthetically sound progression. In the 20th century, the social status and image of Bharatanatyam was restored by Rukmini Devi Arundale, the founder of Kalakshetra.

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Mohiniattam

The origin of Mohiniattam was from the temples of Kerala and it was originally known as Dasiattam. It was later changed to Mohiniattam. Literally, Mohiniattam means “dance by a beautiful lady”. It is an exquisite feminine style characterised by extremely soft, graceful and gentle movements that can be likened to the swaying of leaves in the gentle breeze or the movement of waves. The emphasis is on abhinaya or facial expressions. Mohiniattam is deeply indebted to the constructive contributions of the three pillars or Thrimoorti, namely Sri Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, Sri Vallathol (a great poet and founder of Kerala Kalamandalam) and Smt. Kalamandalam Kalayanikutty Amma for its revival. The language used in the lyrics is a pleasant mixture of Malayalam, Tamil and Sanskrit, known as Manipravalam.

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Kathak

Kathak, a classical form of dance originating from the northern parts of India, was developed 2000 years ago in Hindu temples where 'Kathakars' (storytellers) narrated stories of Hindu gods and goddesses through dance, music and mime. Kathak evolved magnificently when it entered the courts of the Rajput and Mughal kings and it is in this period when gharanas (Jaipur and Lucknow) were formed based on the distinct style practised in each of these courts. Traditionally Kathak is performed to live music and the repertoire includes both the Nritta (technical abstract) element as well as the Nritya (involving expression or abhinaya) aspect.

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Carnatic Vocal

Carnatic Music is a style of music associated with Southern parts of India. There are four main elements that make up the basis of Carnatic Music: Sruthi (pitch), Thalam (rhythmic cycle), Ragam (melodic scale) and Swaram (musical note). Carnatic Music is mainly taught through compositions of Purandara Dasa which form the basic lessons and through Kritis/Kirthanas composed by the Trinity (Saint Thyagarajah, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Sastri). Most compositions are written to be sung so when they are played on melodic instruments such as the violin, veena or flute, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style. The Carnatic vocalist is accompanied by Mridangist and Violinist during a performance.

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Mridangam

Mridangam is the main percussion instrument in Carnatic music. The word “Mridangam” comes from the Sanskrit words mŗt (clay) and anga (body), as early Mridangams were made of hardened clay. It is used to accompany vocalists and melodic instruments of South India as well as an accompaniment for Natya, particularly Bharatanatyam. The rhythm patterns played are intricate and complex and require a sharp knowledge of mathematics. The art of performing percussion syllables vocally in Carnatic music is known as Konnakol.

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