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Bharatanatyam & Arangetram


Bharathanatyam is an artistic-yoga, rooted in the aesthetic sensibilities of Tamil Nadu, of India.
Evidence of its antiquity is known from Kootha-Nool and Pancha-Marabu of the Tamil-Sangam
literature, circa 300 BCE. Bharathanatyam was known as Aattam and Koothu earlier. This
performing arts tradition of India has a continuous history spanning over 2000 years and it is
codified in Natya Sastram with 6000 aphorisms, which captures the highly precise Indic
histrionics, dramaturgy and the 108 Karanas.

Evolution of this dance is enshrined in the sublime sculptures of the ancient Hindu Temples of
South India. Such intellectual wealth was destined to survive the harsh natural and socio-
political impact India had to bear. Today we convene here to get a glimpse of this rich heritage
that is delicately flowing from the river Ganges to river Hudson, from one generation to
another, with utmost piety.

Today’s Arangetram is conducted as prescribed by Arangetru-Kaathai, a canto in
Silapathikaaram, of the Tamil epic written 2000 years ago. Details such as the graduating
dancer’s age, training imparted, intellectuality of the Guru, which side of the stage orchestra is
seated, accompanying instruments played, from which direction the dancer enters the stage,
audience caliber and pre-recital rituals are only a few examples of what this epic teaches us so
eloquently. The power of this performative art depends on its continuity of Guru-Sishya
(Preceptor-student) educational system practiced to this day in the Indian sub-continent.

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