Bharatanatyam has a history going back to 2000 years. It is taught according to the guidelines established in a book on the science of Bharatanatyam – Natyasastra – that was written by Sage Bharatha. It is the most popular of the Indian classical dance forms in South India. The origins of this art form can be traced back to ancient Sanskrit literature and Temple sculptures; many of the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples are based on Bharatanatyam dance poses.
It is said that Bharatanatyam was originally derived from the four Vedas (the great ancient scriptures of Hinduism). Bharatanatyam, as the name depicts, is a blend of BHA – Bhava (Expression), RA – Raga (Melody), TA – Tala (Rhythm). Its foundational techniques also include Natya (a dramatic art of storytelling or mime), Nritya (a combination of body movements and expression) and Nritta (pure dance movements). The interpretation of Hindu mythology in Bharatanatyam is accomplished through complex rhythmic patterns and the language of gestures (or “abhinaya”).