The term Adavu is generally translated as footwork, but it is not limited to the use of the feet. Every limb of the body is coordinated in a certain way. Major limbs include hands, legs, head, etc. Adavu can be defined simply as the basic unit of Bharatanatyam involving the whole body.
About 65 adavus involve a range of movements. It would only discourage an eager learner as he or she would feel that the adavus are too numerous to grasp. Let’s examine a few core aspects of adavus that appear in almost every adavu.
POSITIONS OF THE LEG:
ARAIMANDI – HALF SEATED.
If one masters this, one masters half of Bharatanatyam! This is not an exaggeration, because mastering the proper araimandi is quite a tedious and time-consuming process. Initially, one will feel severe pain in the knees and thighs, but this will gradually subside. Here are some points to keep in mind.
- Back straight (bending or stooping can cause a hunchback effect).
- Height reduced by at least 1/3.
- Feet pointing to opposite sides and placed horizontally
- Hands are placed firmly and neatly on the hips.
- Eyes are straight.
Students can begin by standing like this for 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds and gradually increase to 1 minute, 1.30 seconds, etc.
SAMAPADAM – LEGS TOGETHER
Stand straight, legs together, eyes straight, hands on hips. This may sound simple, but it is very important for a dancer. When a dancer takes a break between dances, he/she should stand in this position.
MANDI – FULL SEATED POSITION
This is a completely seated position – perhaps the most painful to grasp and reproduce. In the early stages, one often tends to stumble and lose balance. But it gradually settles down. Again, the eyes must be focused straight and the back upright.
- The hands are at the sides and slightly bent. The elbows must be upright and not sagging. This gesture is difficult and causes quite a bit of pain in the elbows. Again, practice with a positive attitude, “I will master this! “.
- Hands in front of the chest. Elbows firm, eyes straight.
It’s these 3 big leg positions and 2 hand positions that you build on.
So the next time you see a Bharatanatyam performance, I am sure it will be very easy to recognize these 5 aspects that occur over and over again.
Starting from one of these basic positions, the adavu involves a well-coordinated movement of the body.
As this is a concise overview of Bharatanatyam, let us move on to our online bharatanatyam course for beginners and intermediates.