Students from Natananjali performed at the White House on November 09, 2010
Lakshmi Swaminathan established Natananjali School of Dance in Maryland with the objective of teaching and promoting the Indian Classical Dance style, Bharatanatyam.
Bharatanatyam is the classical dance form from the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India. One of the oldest Indian Classical Dances, its origin is traced back through the centuries to the temples of Ancient India, where it was performed as a ritualistic form of worship. It is intricately bound with Hinduism, in particular with Hindu myths and customs. Visually, it is a dynamic style of dance, yet innately graceful. Dance teachers called nattuvanars and ritualistic dancers, the devadasis, in the temples of South India have handed down the highly cultivated art of Bharatanatyam through the centuries.
There are two theories ascribed to the nomenclature of the word 'Bharata' in Bharatanatyam. One is that it is a combination of Bhava (expression), Raga (musical mode) and Tala (rhythm) which are important elements in the dance form. The other theory is that the word is derived from the name of sage Bharata who is the author of the treatise, Natya Shastra, believed to be written in the 2nd century BC.The three main elements of Bharatanatyam are nritta (pure dance), nritya (interpretative dance) and natya (dramatic representation of dance). However, of the three, nritta and nritya are more prominent. Nritta represents dance in which the dancer uses various hand gestures and movements of the feet to form decorative patterns. Nritya, involves Abhinaya or the art of expression in which the dancer uses a series of hand gestures, facial expressions and other parts of her/his body to communicate the meaning of the song that is being performed. Bharatanatyam is a form of yoga, a combination of physical energy and spiritual power.
"My work primarily embodies the practice and propagation of this aesthetic art form in the
United States through performance, teaching, workshops, lecture demonstrations and residencies.
Indian culture, in which Indian dance plays an important role, is kaleidoscopic and stirs up the
interest and imagination of the young and the old alike. Consequently, it is my sincere wish
to showcase this wonderful culture through my dance."
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