Observation Exercise…

In this session let us watch a video from the You Tube very carefully..

You see a student perform the adavus packaged slightly differently.

You should be able to identify atleast 3 sets of adavus that you have learnt. Try. You may send in your answers as comments

Can you identify the adavus?

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 theĀ  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.

Session 7- More Flexibility exercises

Now you have sucessfully completed the tatadavus. It is now time to gear up your body for more to come.

Here are a few other exercises.

Flexibility Exercises

  1. Leg Lifts:
    • Lie on your right side, with your right leg bent and left leg stretched on the side. (Ref Fig. 1)
    • Lift the left leg as high as you can without bending at the knee.
    • Repeat 5 times
    • Repeat the same on Left (Ref. Fig.2)
  2. Toe Touch:
    • Stand with the feet shoulder width apart. Reach the knees, ankles and toes on both sides alternately. (Ref Fig. 5).Repeat 5 times.
  3. Back Bend :
    • Stand with the feet shoulder width apart.
    • Hold on to the small of your back with your palms. (Fig.3)
    • Bend back as much as you can without undue pain, slowly and carefully.(Fig.4)
    • Come back to position in fig.3
    • Repeat process 3 -5 times
  4. Kicks:
    • Lift and Stretch right hand to the side. Hold at shoulder level. Lift and kick using the right leg. (Fig 6)
    • Repeat Movement on right 5 times
    • Repeat the process on left.

5. Hand Swirl: This is more like a relaxing exercise that can also be done after a session.

Swirl the arms one by one, slowly anticlockwise and clockwise . Repeat each movement 3- 5 times. Follow your hands with your eyes. (Ref. Fig.7)

Session 3- More Conditioning Exercises

Hope you have practiced your eye and neck exercises and the jumps taught in the previous session and got yourself some comfortable clothes…

Lets get to do some serious warm up now…

Warming up or stretching becomes more so essential when the climate is colder. India being hot and humid, typical of the Tropics , warming up may not be given the importance that it actually needs. But these warm up sessions are definitely essential if you don’t want to end up with cramps. A few of these warm up can be done before recitals too to get off that rigid look and feeling that occurs at the beginning of a recital.

Stretching Exercises


1. Sit on your haunches (in full mandi) and bounce for a count of 20+ (Ref Fig. 1)

2. Sit in Full mandi (Ref Fig. 1),bounce and rise and stretch in araimandi in anjitam(root your heel an put your toes up) for a count of 20+ (Ref Fig. 2)

3. Sit with soles of the feet touching each other (Ref Fig. 3),pull in your feet as close to the thighs as possible. On a count of five bend and touch your toes with your head. (Ref Fig. 4). Repeat this 3- 5 times.
4. Sit with one knee folded under you. Stretch the other feet back in a straight line. Start with hands beside you in the normal position. (Ref Fig. 5) Then do each of the following on a count of 5

  1. Stretch the hands ahead on the floor and follow with torso with the head close to the ground (like namaskar) (Ref. Fig. 6)
  2. Come back to your original postion with hands beside you in the normal position and torso straight (As in Fig.5)
  3. Lift arms and bend backwards like a bow and remain (like the position in Surya namaskar)(Ref. Fig 7)
  4. Come back to your original postion with hands beside you in the normal position and torso straight (As in Fig.5)

Repeat 5 this twice. Then repeat the whole exercise with the other knee tucked down.

Did you feel the stretch ? way to go…

Now let’s get to know a little more about the Art Form you are about to learn.

How did Bharathanatyam get its name?

Bharathanatyam is a pure classical dance form that originated in Tamilnadu in Southern India. The term Bharathnatyam is believed to have its origin from Natya Sashtra. One opinion is that the dance form is named after its inventor Bharata. Another school of thought claims that Bharatha Natyam (Dance) is an acronym of

  • Bhavam- Expression/ feel
  • Ragam- Music/ Melody
  • Thalam- beat/ Rhythm

This signifies that the art form combines aspects of melody, rhythm and dramatics.