© 2017 srinivasan, sarangapani & sridhar family

what does it all mean?

When you have an art form that is about 2000 years old and when for the most part, it portrays stories from ancient worlds and lands far, far away, a little explanation is in order.  Here are some popular terms associated with the art form.  You may come across them at the event.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

abhinaya           

art of expression; "leading an audience towards" the experience of a sentiment; integral part of all Indian classical dance styles

adavu                

basic unit of dance technique in Bharatanatyam, combining standing position, foot and leg movement, and hand gestures; building blocks of the nritta 

arangetram       
debut performance of a Bharatanatyam dancer, marking his or her readiness for performing a full solo recital; Tamil word meaning to step onto the stage - from arangam meaning stage and etram meaning ascent
aramandi         
signature posture in Bharatanatyam with erect torso, bent legs, knees outward, heels together, and toes outward
Bharatanatyam  
an almost 2000 years old dance form whose name comes from the four important aspects of dance in Sanskrit - bha from bhaava
 meaning motion,ra from raga meaning melody or tuneta from taala meaning rhythm and natyam meaning dance; 
incorporates nritta, nritya and natya
 
Ganesha            
elephant-headed god; considered to be the God of wisdom and the remover of all obstacles; everything begins with an invocation to him
guru                   
teacher

jathi                   

drum syllables, or sequences of drum syllables, describing units of percussion as intoned by the dance conductor, nattuvanar, during abstract dance passages

jathiswaram         

usually the second item in a Bharatanatyam performance; an abstract dance number without expression of meaning in which diverse rhythmic patterns and musical phrasing are used; the music has no lyrics and only the names of notes are sung

mangalam      
short, benedictory item of music or dance at the end of the last performance of the day

margam             
sequence of items in a Bharatanatyam recital; literally means way or path in Sanskrit

mridangam          

double-sided Indian drum used mainly in South India, in Carnatic music.

mudra             

symbolic gesture using hands and fingers; also refers to hand gestures in Bharatanatyam where they are used for decoration as well as expressing meaning

 
Nataraja          
God of dance

nattuvanar          

dance master of Bharatanatyam responsible for training the dancers and directing their performances (like an orchestra conductor)

 

nattuvangam       

practice or art of calling out rhythmic syllables that denote dance movements, and striking cymbals on particular beats as cues to the dancer; art of conducting a Bharatanatyam dance recital

natya                 

dramatic aspect of a stage performance, including spoken dialogue and mime, to convey meaning and enact narrative

Natyashastra     
2000 year old Sanskrit scripture on the performing arts; nat meaning "act, represent"and shastra meaning "rules, manual, compendium, book or treatise", which is generally used as a suffix in Indian literature for knowledge in a defined area of practice
nritta                 
abstract dance movements with rhythm, but without expression of a theme or emotion; also called pure dance
nritya               
interpretive dance, using facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movements to portray emotions and express themes
pushpanjali      
offering of flowers to a deity, as a form of obeisance; sometimes expanded into a dance item
raga     
tune​; melody
shishya            
student
tala      
rhythm; beat
thillana             
final dance of a Bharatanatyam recital; almost entirely an abstract dance number with a lively tempo and dynamic movements
theermanam             
means to conclude or an ending or a final stage. The steps in these adavus are used to end a dance sequence or jathis. It is done in a set of three steps or repeated thrice. 
varnam             
central and longest item in a Bharatanatyam recital; includes abstract and expressive dance in specific patterns, and a comprehensive description of the song