Session 16- Introduction to Mardita (Steps 1 and 2)

Congratulations on getting through our first checkpoint test.

Let’s start moving literally…

Mardita: “Marditam” is a foot movement mentioned in Sangita Ratnakara that refers ” to rubbing the floor with one’s sole”. This set of adavus gets its name from this foot movement which is the predominant motion here. The Marditam execution itself varies according to one’s style and aesthetic preferences from a tap to a slight kick.

If you remember I had asked you to find out other names by which this set of adavus is referred to- they are Visharu adavu or Paraval adavu. Both these terms refer to wide sweeping movements in space, characteristic of this group of adavus.


Application: These steps are used in a choreography when the participants need to move or realign. The adavu itself may be adapted to move sideways, forwards, backwards or diagonally across the stage. The steps lends itself in creating a continuous flow.

  • Sollukattu for the group: Ta-tai-tai-ta, di-tai-tai-ta (Listen to the audio)
  • Sthanakam/Posture: Araimandi
  • Hatas: Katakamukham and Alapadmam , Pathakam, Dola (You haven’t learnt this just yet) and Tripathakam in a few other styles practised.
  • Feet Positions and Movement: Predominantly Mardhitam and swasthikam.(We will see a few others later)

Eight variations in this group are practiced .

Lets look at the first step.

Lets look at the rhythmic distribution of syllables:-










Sorkattu speed 1









Footwork guide

R (Tap)



R(Bring it forward and tap in Parshvagam)

L (Tap)



L(Bring it forward and tap in Parshvagam

speed 2

Ta Tai

Tai Ta

Di Tai

Tai Ta


speed 3

Ta Tai Tai Ta

Di Tai

Tai Ta


Flow of Movements:

Start Position: Araimandi with Katakamukham in front of the chest.


  1. Ta-(ref pos 1)
    • Foot: Tap right leg in its current araimandi(parshvagam) position as in Tatadadvu
    • Hands: The right hands is stretched to the front in alapadmam in uttanam (palm facing the roof) (It’s at 90 degress to your body) an arc like movement to right side is commenced
    • Torso remains straight.
  2. Tai– (ref pos 2)
    • Foot: Tap right leg a little away from its araimandi(parshvagam) position
    • Hands: The right hands stretched to the front in uttana alapadmam, is now moved into place in line with the right shoulder.(Now its at an180 degrees to your body or in line with it)
    • The body bends at the waist to the right. (not so much for male students though)
  3. Tai- (ref pos 3)
    • Foot: Take the left leg back and place it in Swastikam behind the right leg.
    • Hands: The right hands stretched to the front in uttana alapadmam, is now moved behind.(Now its at an 270 degrees to your body)
    • The body turns back at the waist to look right behind .
  4. Ta
    • Foot: Take the right light back a little and tap it in line with the left feet (in parashvagam). Simultaneously lower the heel of left feet which is on its toes, gently without a noise.
    • Hands: The right hands are brought back and palced in Katakamaukham in front of the chest.
    • The body turns back to face forward.
    • Now you are in the starting position

For di-tai-tai-ta mirror the movement to your left. It must be noted that the movement of the waist and hands and continuous and smooth and not jerky and instantaneous with the feet.

Teaching Tips: This step has a slightly asynchronous movement of the hands and feet where at the third point in the movement flow, the right hand and left leg move back. There is a tendency to move the right feet when the left is moved. So it is important to practice and perfect the footwork and the hands before putting them both together. It might help to say the following while memorizing the feet…

  • R, apart, back, together
  • L, apart, back ,together
Second Step:
The second step can be described as being the double of the previous step. The movement is as follows : R.L,L, R and repetition
The following list shows the sollu recitation and the corresponding movement for the 2nd step.
  • ta-tai-tai- ta (move to right as in the right in the first step)
  • di-tai-tai-ta (move to left as in the left in the first step)
  • ta-tai-tai-ta (move to left as in the left in the first step)
  • di-tai-tai- ta (move to right as in the right in the first step)

Now let’s practice both these steps with the audio (play the audio twice to practice both steps)


Academy Interaction and facilitation …

Hi Everybody,

Thank you for the overwhelming response and the support extended to us in this project.

It’s a pleasure to see so many people interested in this divine art.

In an attempt to bring more organization and structure to this academy and to enable interaction and discussion essential to reasonable knowledge gain, we request you to register yourself in our exclusive community in orkut –

In this community we will attempt to share and discuss everything that can help us learn dance better and faster- from the latest happenings in the dance community, to recommending appropriate articles, books and CD’s. You can post your queries,and answer others. You may post your videos for review and honest feedback. Tests and the answers will also be released/ discussed in this community.

While you register, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you expect from this academy. This will help us focus on individual needs also.

This community will be moderated just to make sure that there is discipline and decorum that we require while approaching an art form so divine and pure. Both of us will be a part of this community, waiting to help you in your endeavor to the best of our capabilities.

Kindly continue your support to make this effort a success.

Thanking you all once again,

Sangeetha Shyam

(On behalf of the all behind this venture)

Test 1-Checkpoint

Dear students,

It is important we check to see if we have grasped and reatined what has been taught in the previous sessions, before we proceed further. So let’s see.

Here are the questions…

  1. What does Thattikumudu mean? When is it done?
  2. What are steps called in Bharathanatyam jargon?
  3. How many speeds are prescribed for practicing steps ?
  4. What are Hastas?
  5. What are one handed gestures called?
  6. What kind of steps are found in Thatadavu? Stretching/tapping
  7. Naatu means to rest on the heel or toes?
  8. While dancing, especially the steps, the eyes usually follow the hastas/hand movements- true or false?
  9. What is the half sit in the Bharathanatyam called?
  10. Can you name a few positions of the feet that we looked into so far?

If you get less than 7 out of these questions right, it may help to revise your previous lessons. Remember we are always here and there is no hurry. Perfection and assimilation are first in our agenda. (Check you answers)
If you got 7 out of 10 correct to the above questions. Answer the following question…
Are you able to recall all the 8 tatadavus and Naatadavus?
Yes– Welcome to our next session.. Great going…
No– Please go through the animations once more before you join us for the next session.

You are welcome to send in your answers to us by posting them as comments. We will check them and let you know. The results/answers for this test will be released in our Orkut Community with a week’s time.

You are welcome to join our orkut community – specially created for the users of this website. Your comments, suggestions, answer to our queries and your queries to us can be posted there.

Session 15- Asamyutha hastas and their meaning

We have learned the Asamyutha Hastas in session 8. Each of these hastas /their names have a meaning. We are going to study the meaning of these hastas in today’s session. It may be necessary to have a look at the chart provided earlier to see how the gesture actually denotes the meaning.







3 parts of a flag/


2 parts of a flag/


Scissors/ Tongs




Half Moon


Petal/ bent


Parrot’s beak




The pinnacle/ top


Wood apple






Full moon


Lotus Bud


Hood of Cobra


Deer’s head


Lion’s face


 small bell


Fully Bloomed Lotus


4 sides, square




Swan’s bill


The swan









It should be noted that each of these hastas can be used to show various thoughts, actions, ideas and things. Those become the usage or Viniyoga of a Hasta. These Viniyogas are mentioned in Natyasashtra shlokas that will be dealth with at a later time..
For adavanced Learners
While learning the steps in itself it would help to know a few other terms with reference to hastas.
Hasta Pracahara:denotes the facing of the palms. It would at present help to learn the following terms
  • Uttana-Palm upterned or facing ceiling/skywards
  • Adhomukha-facing the floor
  • Unmukha-Palm facing oneself
  • Paran Mukha-Palm facing away from one self.

We will now proceed with the Mardhita adavu in the next session. Did you know that there are other ways/terms to refer to this adavu? Try finding them out and check with us in the next session to see if you came up with the right answers. But before we start on to Mardhita please check to see if you are able to execute all the 8 Tatadavus and Naatadavus with proficiency.

Session 14- Completing Naatadavu and related terminology

Before we start learning the7th variation in Naatadavu, let’s look at two other feetagrasancharam positions involved. We are going to study 2 terms today. They are :

  1. Agratala Sancharam: This is a term from Natyasashtra that describes, one foot placed normally and the other foot placed on the toes with the heels held up.There are a lot of variations possible in this position,and we come across one such in this step.( as shown in the right.)
  2. Parshvagam

    Parshvagam: This term from Sangita Ratnakara refers to the feet that is placed flat on the ground with the toes turned towards the sides.

      Anjitham sometimes spelled ancitam or Naattu you are already familiar with, receives mention in the Natyasahtra.

      Let’s now watch the animation and look for these positons…














      Ta- a




      Ha- a


      R Nattu

      L tap in parshavagam

      Turn to L

      (Right in agratala sanchara)

      L tap- R tap

      L Nattu

      R tap tap in parshavagam

      Turn to R Left in agratala sanchara)

      R tap- L tap

      Count Guide









      This table is given to help understand the footwork and its rhythmic distribution in this step.

      Start: Aramandi with katakamukhams at chest level.

      1. Thai– Stretch the right leg in anjitham to the side with the hands stretched diagonally in alapadmam.Right hand nearing the right toe.
      2. Yum: Tap the other left in parshvagam while the hands remain in the previous position.
      3. Tat– Turn towards the left, with the diagonal of the hand maintained change hastas to katamukham. The right feet is on toes stretched in agratala sancharam.(Ref fig in agratala sancharaam)
      4. Ta – There are 2 movements for this one beat.
        • (a)Tap the left in parshvagam with the hands retained in a diagonal stretched katakamukham.
        • (b)Bring the right leg back to aramandi position in a tap. The hands now move back to the front of the chest (still in katakamukham)

          For Thai-yum-ta-ha mirror the movements in left. Lets try this with our audio

          The Naatadavu 8th step is almost a double repition of the 7th step. Here the Sequence of movement from 1-4a is executed and the student then begins with the sequence 1 and completes it till 4 b. The whole scheme uses up all the 8 syllables as follows

          • Tai- Movement 1
          • Yum- Movement 2
          • Tat- Movement 3
          • Ta-Movement 4a
          • Tai- Movement 1
          • Yum- Movement 2
          • Ta- Movement 3
          • Ha- Movement 4a and b

          The left uses up another 8 syllables for total execution. Try with this audio

          In other styles like the Pandanallur its derivatives and Thanjavur traditions, there are few other kinds of Naatadavu extensions that are a combination of Naatadavu and Dit-tit-tai adavus that have a sorkattu Tai- yum- tat- ta- tai- tai- dhithi-tai. The Dit tit tai adavus are a category by themselves and will be covered as a seperate adavu a little later in this class.

          For Adavanced Learners:

          When analyzing the Nattadavu , we see 3 variations in “Anjitham/Naatu” itself:

          1. Parshva Anjitha– Nattu to the side -As in step1,2,7 and 8
          2. Sama anjitha– Nattu in the front- As in step 3and 4
          3. Tryasra Anjitha– Nattu in between the above 2 as in step5 and 6.

            Session 13- Naatadavu Step 6

            The 6th variation in Naatadavu is an extension of the previous step.

            Let’s now watch the animation…

            Looking at the steps in the flow of this step…

            1. Start– Sit in araimandi with hands stretched out inTirupathakam.
            2. Thai
              • Feet- Move right feet behind the left to make a swastikam.
              • Hands- Move right arm upwards to stretch above the head with tirupathakam facing the ceiling. The right hand is now at a right angle to the left
              • Face upwards and look at your right hand extended on the top.
            3. Yum– while in the previous position, tap the left feet.
            4. TatNat 5
              • Feet- Move right feet from behind (the lef)t to the front and stretch in “Naatu”
              • Hands- The right hand now moves down in an arc to make a parallel with the right stretched feet.
              • Head, neck and eyes, follow the movement of the right arm.

              Till this point it is exactly the same as the previous step.

            5. Ta- Now while at the previous position tap the left leg.
            6. Thai– (At this pointit is as if we begin the whole movement again)
              • Feet- Move right feet behind the left to make a swastikam.
              • Hands- Move right arm upwards to stretch above the head with tirupathakam facing the ceiling. The right hand is now at a right angle to the left
              • Face upwards and look at your right hand extended on the top.
            7. Yum– Tap the left feet in front with all other position similar to previous position
            8. Ta
              • Feet: Bring back the right feet to araimandi and tap
              • Hands: The right hand in Tirupathakam is brought down vertically in a straight line, while bending at the elbow. Also slowly turn at your wrist so that the tirupathakam finally faces the ground.
              • Face: tip your chin and look at your right hand in front of the chest.
            9. Ha
              • Feet: Tap left feet in araimandi
              • Hands: The right hand in Tirupathakam in front of the chest is now extended fully at shoulder level by stretching at the elbow.
              • Face: Lift your chin and look ahead(at the audience).
              • You are now in the start position.

              Mirror all the movements in left for another set of Tai- yum- tat-ta-tai-yum-ta-ha.

            Lets try with the audio

            Session 13- Naatadavu Step 5

            Naatadavu Step 5, is a geometrical construction literally. The hand here draws an arc and straight lines. This step lends itself beautifully to group choreographies.

            The Foot postions are once again the swasthikam and Naatu.

            The Hands are in Tirupathakam.

            Lets watch this step in our animation.

            Now lets analyze the flow…

            1. Start– Sit in araimandi with hands stretched out inTirupathakam.
            2. Thai
              • Feet- Move right feet behind the left to make a swastikam.
              • Hands- Move right arm upwards to stretch above the head with tirupathakam facing the ceiling. The right hand is now at a right angle to the left
              • Face upwards and look at your right hand extended on the top.
            3. Yum– Tap the left feet in front with all other position similar to previous position
            4. Nat 5Tat
              • Feet- Move right feet from behind the left to the front and stretch in “Naatu”
              • Hands- The right hand now moves down in an arc to make a parallel with the right stretched feet.
              • Head, neck and eyes, follow the movement of the right arm.
            5. Ta
              Feet- Move right feet back to araimandi position
              Hands- The right hand now moves upwards towards the chest while bending at the elbow and then stretched back in a straight line at the shoulder level.
              Head, chin and eyeslook from down at the audience brightly.

              • For Thai -yum Ta- ha- mirror the movement in the left.

              Teacher’s tip: It may help to say “Back- yum- front ta- back-yum-front -ha

              Practice with audio

              Session 12- Practice session

              Araimandi/NatyarambhamToday is your day to practice a few of the steps you have learned, in 3 speeds, with my audio accompanying you.

              Have you done your Salutation? Good! We will work on all the steps starting from Tatdavau 7 – Naatadavu 4. Sit in Aramandi. Good!

              Tat adavu 7 – Click on the adavu to play the audio

              Tat adavu 8Click on the adavu to play the audio

              Now that was good. Let’s go on to Naatadavu

              Naatadavu – Click and Play this  to practice the first second and third Naat adavus learned so far.

              Naatadavu 4– Click to listen and practice

              Wasn’t it an enjoyable session. Slightly tired. We will be fine with time.

              Bye and see you in the next session.

              Session 11- Naatadavu Step 4

              Swastikam-footHave you practiced the 3rd step?

              Let’s now move on to the next one. The 4th step is an extension of the 3rd one. At this point, a foot position known as swastikam is introduced.(Ref Fig). In this position one leg is placed on the toes behind the other leg that rests normally. This is a very beautiful position that gives a lot of stability and feminine grace to the dancer.

              Let’s watch the animation now…

              Now lets go through the flow of the movements. if you did watch carefully there is this swatikam part that is followed by the third step we saw in the previous post.

              Start Position: Feet in araimandi and hands in Katakamukham near the chest.

              Movement Flow

              • Thai : Stretch right feet in “naatu/ anjitham” towards to front, with hands in alapadmam and the torso bending to the front as if to reach the toes, just as in third step.
              • Yum: Tap the left feet while remaining in the above position.
              • Nat 4Tat:
                • Take the right leg backward and place the right feet behind the left in swastikam as explained above.
                • The torso is straightened and the waist slightly bends to the left.
                • The hands are now in Katamukham near the chest.
                • Tilt your head to the left and direct your glance to your front left corner.
              • Ta: Tap the left leg now in front while remaining in this position.
              • For Tai – Yum – Ta -Ha– Repeat the the thirs step as is.

              The whole series of 8 variations in the movements that we have just discussed above are then repeated to the left, mirroring the actions done to the right.For beginners this isn’t an easy step and don’t be too hard on yourselves. Within the next few sessions, you will be fine. Lets now practice with this audio file

              Teaching Tips: If kids and beginners find this step hard to memorize, you could try saying, ” Front- yum- back- ta- from – yum -ta-ha”.

              Check Point / Guidelines for practising Adavus

              It may at this juncture be pertinent to try answering the following questions?

              From a Student’s point of View :

              • How am I dancing ?
              • How does my dance come across/ look to the audience ?
              • How good are my adavus/nritta?
              • Are they any rules to be followed while practising the adavus?
              • Is quanity more important than quality, or in other words is it important to master what is learnt before progressing ahead.
              • What are the yard sticks to measure my accomplishmentso far?

              From a Teacher’s point of View :

              • How do I explain to my students about how their dance comes across/ looks to the audience ?
              • Are there any blanket rules that can be followed while training students on the adavus?
              • Is quantity more important than quality, or in other words is it important to master what is learned, before progressing ahead.
              • How do I support self assessment or discretion in my students?

              Here are a few points that have struck me in my experience…

              1. Eye Movement/Drishti Rules: Abhinaya Darpana, an ancient text that delves into the nuances of classical Indian dance lays down this famous Sloka:
              Yatho Hasta Thatho Drishti,
              YathoDrishti Thatho Manah
              Yatho Manah Thatho Bhaava,
              Yatho Bhaava Thatho Rasa
              This can be roughly translated as follows…

              Where the hands(hasta) are, go the eyes (drishti); where the eyes are, goes the mind(mana); where the mind goes, there is an expression of inner feeling (Bhava) and where there is bhava, mood or sentiment(rasa) is evoked.

              I t can easily be seen that your drishti/eye movement goes a long way in determining the success of your dance.

              At this point of time, when adavus are being learned it may be said that the Eyes follow the movement of your hand. This is a good indicator of the student’s involvement and understanding.

              2. Posture/ geometry rules:Angashuddha

              Bharathanatyam apart from being visual poetry is also visual geometry. The dance form itself is characterized by the absolute symmetry and perfect geometry of its movements. A technical excellence in these aspects may be referred to as”Angashuddha” and ‘Savustavam” in the technical lingo. We should satisfy ourselves in loosely explaining these terms as a combination of good posture, balance , centering, symmetry and geometric correctness. let’s look at the  fig. above to have a rough idea.

              3. Hasta rules:

              Hastas need to be clear and well defined to improve aesthetics and in later lessons to make communication clear. It is not unlikely for katamukhams turning to some unidentifiable insect, tirupathakams to fall and alapadmams to wither away unless conscious effort is put in. This effort will become natural and should be unconsciously executed by dancers with practice.

              4. Foot Work rules: Foot work should be firm and the tapping does not need to be unduly loud/soft. Remember to maintain the arch of you foot while tapping. To soft a tap may never give the feeling of rhythmic correctness and too loud a tap tires you out too soon.

              So to make a short note out of it here are the rulles

              1. Maintain a good posture
              2. Follow your hand movements with your eyes
              3. Keep hastas clear and firm.
              4. Be firm and careful with your foot step.

              This is in no way a complete list of rules that guarantee great dance, but just an aid. Observation is the key. Watch more and see what should be imbibed and what should be avoided.