The Bharatanatyam dance form is one of the most expressive and graceful forms of dance. The geometrical precision of Bharatanatyam postures will astonish you. Regardless of their exactitude, when performed by a skilled performer, they appear elegant, smooth, and intense. The performer’s expressions add to the intensity and power of these postures.
In a Bharatanatyam performance, rhythm is combined with expression and drama is combined with nritta (rhythmic elements). An element of the Nritta aspect is a Bharatanatyam posture.
Bharatanatyam’s Divine Element
The following shloka, dedicated to Lord Shiva, the embodiment of grace, emotion, and power, mentions all three elements, Nritta, Nritya, and Natya.
“Aangikam Bhuvanam Yasya
Vachikam Sarva Vaanmayam
Ahaaryam Chandra Taaradi
Tam Vande Sattwikam Shivam”
In order to understand and feel the divine nature of this art form, Bharatanatyam practitioners and performers recite this shloka throughout their learning journey.
It means: ‘We bow before the benevolent one, whose limbs are the world, whose song and poetry is the essence of all language, whose garment is the moon and the stars
5 Beginner-Friendly Bharatanatyam Postures
Check out these 5 beginner-friendly Bharatanatyam postures:
- Eka Pada
Let us read them in detail.
Samapadam is the basic and simplest posture in Bharatanatyam. It is a static posture, meaning that the body is stationary or motionless once the posture is assumed.
The technical aspects of this posture are explained below.
Perfect alignment of the hands occurs when you place both hands with the thumbs up on either side of your waist in Ardha Chandra Hasta or Half Moon style. The upper and lower parts of the body are aligned so that the body frame appears neither very tight nor very loose. The chin is slightly bent forward (about an inch down) and the eyes are forward.
Both feet are placed side by side without spacing.
Using the same hand position as Samapadam, begin the posture by moving the feet apart with the toes pointing outward, keeping the heels at least three fingers apart. The body weight must fall evenly on the feet to maintain balance.
The knees are bent outward in a half-sitting position so that the toes and knees are in line. In this posture, one must not bend forward.
To avoid injuries during execution of the Araimandi posture, learners must strengthen their core muscles and improve their flexibility. When your knees and toes are misaligned, you can eventually hurt your hips and lower back as well.
Muzhumandi is an extension of the Araimandi posture, achieved by bending the knees further in full sitting. In symmetry, the knees should not face the front, but the sides. You rest your body weight on the heels.
In the Ardha Mandala Hasta or half moon posture, as in the Samapadam and Araimandi positions, the hand rests at the waist.
Prenkhana is one of the most popular and basic pada bhedas. In addition to the hand movements, the posture is called Mandala Bheda.
The right leg must be tapped to get into the stance. Prenkhana is a posture in which one leg is grounded flat and the other leg is on its heels. In katakamukha hasta, the right hand is held at a 45-degree angle above shoulder level.
Eka Pada Bharatanatyam PostureIf Eka Pada is performed in the static position, then the posture is Sthana, and if the Eka Pada is performed in a twist, then the posture is Bhramari. When performing Eka Pada, one must stand on one foot with the leg extended and place the other leg over the knee of the standing leg. The knee of the crossed leg is bent and opened so that the knee points to the side.
Qualities that a Bharatanatyam dancer must develop in order to perform the above postures, or any other Bharatanatyam posture mentioned in the Abhinaya Darpana, flawlessly are:
Javaha Sthiratwam Rekha cha
Bhramari Drishti Shramaha
Medha Shraddha Vacho Geetham
Paathra praanaa Dasha Smruthaha
Which translated means…
Javaha means agility and nimbleness required to perform a posture.
Sthirathwam is the ability to maintain balance and keep the center of gravity while performing the posture.
Rekha is the ability to maintain symmetry in the arrangement of the limbs. This gives a sharp and graceful visual appeal to any posture.
Brahmari is the ability to perform twists and turns while maintaining balance.
Drishti or the ability to add emotion to any posture and connect with the audience through eye movements
Shramaha or the perseverance to dedicate oneself to the ancient art form of Bharatanatyam.
Medha or the intelligence and curiosity to achieve perfection in all technical and esthetic aspects of Bharatanatyam.
Shradha or the dedication to pursue this art form.