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Bharatanatyam (Tamil: folk dance) originally known as Sathiraattam(karakattam), is a major genre

of Indian classical dance that originated in Tamil Nadu.[1][2][3] Traditionally, Bharatanatyam has been a
solo dance performed exclusively by women,[4][5] and it expressed South Indian religious themes and
spiritual ideas, particularly of Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism.[1][6][7]
Bharatanatyam's theoretical foundations trace to the ancient Sanskrit text by Bharata Muni, Natya
Shastra,[6] its existence by 2nd century CE is noted in the ancient Tamil epic Silappatikaram, while
temple sculptures of 6th to 9th century CE suggest it was a well refined performance art by the mid
1st millennium CE.[5][8] Bharatanatyam may be the oldest classical dance tradition of India.[9]
Bharatanatyam style is noted for its fixed upper torso, legs bent or knees flexed out combined with
spectacular footwork, a sophisticated vocabulary of sign language based on gestures of hands, eyes
and face muscles.[8] The dance is accompanied by music and a singer, and typically her guru is
present as the director and conductor of the performance and art.[1] The dance has traditionally been
a form of an interpretive narration of mythical legends and spiritual ideas from the Hindu texts.[4] The
performance repertoire of Bharatanatyam, like other classical dances, includes nrita (pure
dance), nritya (solo expressive dance) and natya (group dramatic dance).[4][10]
Bharatanatyam remained exclusive to Hindu temples through the 19th century.[8] It was banned by
the colonial British government in 1910,[11] but the Indian community protested against the ban and
expanded it outside the temples in the 20th century.[8][11][12] Modern stage productions of
Bharatanatyam have incorporated technical performances, pure dance based on non-religious ideas
and fusion themes.[5][8]
Originally known as sadhir, the Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam owes its current name,
to E Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi Arundale, who has been instrumental in modifying mainly
the Pandanallur style of dancing and bringing it to the global attention, and removing the extraneous
sringaar and erotic elements from the dance, which were the legacy of its Devadasiassociation in the
past. The word Bharata is a mnemonic, consisting of "bha"–"ra"–"ta".[8] According to this
belief, bha stands for bhava (feelings, emotions), ra stands for raga (melody, framework for musical
notes), and ta stands for tala (rhythm).[8][13][14] The term Natya is a Sanskrit word for "dance". The
compound word Bharatanatyam thus connotes a dance that harmoniously expresses bhava, raga,
and tala.[13]