Indian dance is all about facial expressions. Every part of the body expresses, from head to toe, from arms to legs to hands. Expression is also affected by costumes and decorations.
It is the dancer’s face that is at the center of the expression. A person’s whole body can also be considered an extension of their face. Each part of the dancer’s face is controlled independently and turns into a moving mask. The face can be moved in many different ways. There is a high degree of codification in all movements and their combinations, making the face expression more powerful.
In dance, the eyes are the center of the facial expression, representing the dancer’s attachment to the character he/she portrays. The eyes of a really good dancer reflect the whole dance. The body and the eyes are the outer and inner manifestations of the same expression and must be in tune with each other for the dance to be coherent. Without the eyes, the dance would be inconsequential. This expressive character of the eyes makes Indian dance look Indian.
Rasa means “feeling” and bhava means “state of mind”.
The navarasas (9 emotions) or 9 bhavas (states of mind) are: Shrinagara (love), Hasya (humorous), Karuna (tragic), Raudra (fierce), Veera (heroic), Bhayanaka (fearful), Vibhatsa (disgusted), Adbhuta (amazed) and Shanta (peaceful).