Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form which combines mime, movement and storytelling, reflecting on a 2500 year old artistic heritage made up of dance, music and architectural traditions from the temples of South India.
Its origins are mythologically traced to Lord Shiva who is known as the Lord of Dance in Indian mythology. Historically origins of Bharatanatyam are traced to Natya Shastra, a 2000 year old dissertation on Performing Arts written by Dance Scholar Bharata Muni. Nurtured by the temples and patronised by the royalty, this dance tradition was passed on for over 2000 years by a community of temple dancers called devadasis (courtesans), who were an inherent part of the elaborate temple and court rituals. With a recent codification of repertoire by the ‘ Tanjore Quartet in early 19 century and a mid 20 century revival spearheaded by Rukmini Devi who established an institution called Kalakshetra, Bharatanatyam entered public spaces evolving as an idiom to express tradition and eventually becoming a part of it.