Perhaps the most famous among the Indian Classical Dance styles, Bharatanatyam originated in the state of Tamilnadu in Southern India. In fact, the name of the dance has been interpreted as a combination of the words Bharata (another name for India) and Natyam (dance), thus making it 'The Dance of India.' This dance was once part of the rituals in South Indian temples. It is only in the last 100 years that they have been presented on the stage, outside the context of worship. There is a prescribed repertoire and teaching framework that is followed. The dance is traditionally performed by a solo female artist, and is almost always accompanied by a live orchestra. Group performances are a recent innovation and have been in vogue for about 40 years. The themes presented have also branched from the mythological to the secular. The characteristics of this dance are the straight lines and angular movements formed by the dancer’s body, the medium pace maintained and subtlety in dramatization. The basic stance is similar to the ballet plie, but deeper.
Samskriti Academy's dance training program has clearly defined achievement levels and a dynamic and holistic approach to training. The curriculum is designed with the traditional teaching approach modified to suit the needs of students in the United States.
Apart from rigorous training in the various dance techniques, Yoga is done as a warm up. Different asanas (postures) are taught to the students to help improve flexibility, balance and focus. In addition to dance and yoga, Carnatic music is also offered. Students of dance are required to have a working knowledge of music in order to make the concepts of rhythm, speed, melody, and language more concrete.
To become a full-fledged dancer, it is important to undergo training in three levels: basics like adavus along with introduction to dance theory, followed by dance items and advanced theory, and then expertise in abhinaya (facial expression), nattuvangam (dance conducting) and choreography. The summer program gives intensive training in both practical and theory aspects for students who wish to pursue dance on a more serious level.
A minimum of 6-10 years of intensive training is required to perfect the technique and learn the intricacies. When the student is ready, his/her first formal public performance is done (Arangetram). It is a beautiful showcase of the talent and virtuosity of the student combined with the artistry and blessings of the Guru.
LEVEL 1 - Foundational (Duration 1 - 3 years)
Level 1 A Beginner
Introduction to Bharatanatyam, foundation adavus like tattu, nattu, pakka and a few more and basic shlokas. Fundamental theoretical concepts will also be included.
Level 1 B Intermediate
Secondary level of adavus and theoretical concepts.
Level 1 C Advanced
Adavu set is completed, advanced shlokas, theory and introduction to the tala system.
* Other adavus like Kartari adavu, Suttru adavu, PAichal adavu, and a variety of Korvais will be taught. Students are also trained in simple dance pieces, ranging from classical to folk, to perform at various community events.
LEVEL 2 - Intermediate (Duration 2 - 4 years)
Level 2 A
Basic dance pieces like Alarippu, Pushpanjali, Mallari, Jatiswaram will be taught. Continuation of theoretical concepts.
Level 2 B
Shabdam, Keerthanam, Bhajan, Thillana. Advanced Bharatanatyam theory
LEVEL 3 - Advanced (Duration 2 - 4 years)
Varnam, Padam, Javali, Shlokam. Advanced Bharatanatyam theory. Participation in dance productions.
After completing the Advanced level, the student will be ready to begin preparing for her Arangetram. The Arangetram is customized for the student and it is a collective decision between the teacher, student and parents on various aspects of the program.
Each level will progress according to each students’ ability level, class participation, and regularity/intensity of home practice. Each level builds on the curriculum and training from the previous levels. So mastery of each level is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL in order to attain full-fledged confidence in all aspects of Nritta, Nritya, and Natya.