According to legends Lord Brahma revealed Bharatanatyam to the sage Bharata who then encoded this holy dance form in Natya Shastra.
The text that consists of thousands of verses structured in different chapters divides dance in two specific forms, namely ‘nrita’ that is pure dance comprising of finesse of hand movements and gestures, and ‘nritya’ that is solo expressive dance that comprises of expressions.
Theoretical base of this form traces back to ‘Natya Shastra’, the ancient Sanskrit Hindu text on the performing arts.
A form of illustrative anecdote of Hindu religious themes and spiritual ideas emoted by dancer with excellent footwork and impressive gestures its performance repertoire includes nrita, nritya and natya.
History & Evolution According to the Hindu tradition the name of the dance form was derived by joining two words, ‘Bharata’ and Natyam’ where ‘Natyam in Sanskrit means dance and ‘Bharata’ is a mnemonic comprising ‘bha’, ‘ra’ and ‘ta’ which respectively means ‘bhava’ that is emotion and feelings; ‘raga’ that is melody; and ‘tala’ that is rhythm.
Iyer founded the ‘Madras Music Academy’ and along with Indian theosophist, dancer and Bharatanatyam choreographer Rukmini Devi Arundale, he strived to save Bharatanatyam from dying out.According to some sources the Devadasi culture dating back to 300 BCE to 300 CE evolved under the auspices of the royals that saw the temple dancers called Devadasis, who were dedicated to serve the Lord as dasis or servants, performing the dance form.Eventually the Devadasi culture became an integral part of rituals in South Indian temples.Despite the fact that Hindu temple dances were being suppressed due to laws enforced by the colonial British government, many artists like American dancer Esther Sherman came from the West to learn Indian classical dance forms.She came to India in 1930 and not only learnt classical dances but also adopted the name Ragini Devi and became a part of the ancient dance arts revival movement.