BHARATHANATYAM - Indian Dance Workshop

Page 2: Performance Day

Leading into the Indian Dance Workshop, students had a taste of Indian culture with Anu Rajini.

Click on the links below the photographs to see more....


How to make a Rangoli Kolam here


How to draw a Pulli Kolam - scroll down the page here


The Art of Mehndi - henna hand painting here

Now for the Dance Workshop - let's begin...

Anu is working with six students to perform an Indian classical dance. The students are discovering that everything about the dance is shrouded in symbolism

- the colours and patterns of their saris, hand gestures and face make-up all help to tell the story communicated through dance.

This page documents the Workshop during bi-weekly rehearsals.

Anu recommended the Youtube video below as an excellent example of Indian Bharata Natyam dance.

This is the music we are using in our dance performance.

Learn how to wrap a sari step-by-step here


Anu spent the introductory sessions teaching students several mudras and how to wrap a sari....


Bharathanatyam is a classical dance form from South India.

The name comes from three basic concepts + dance

  • BHAva - Gestures

  • RAga - Music

  • TAla - Beat or Rhythm

  • NATYAM - Dance

Adavus - Basic steps

Adavus are the ABC's of dancing.

Just like a combination of letters make words and then sentences,

adavus are combined to form a dance sequence.

An Adavu is the synchronized combination of:

  • Leg positions

  • Standing postures

  • Walking movements

  • Hand gestures


HASTAS or MUDRAS - Hand gestures

In Bharatanatyam the whole body is used to express

and reach out to the audience.

Every day we use hand gestures, for example:

  • To call a person

  • To point to an object

  • To show drinking

  • To express happiness or anger

Gestures are symbols by which a thought, feeling or

intention is expressed. In Indian dance each mudra

has a special meaning.

We are using Pataka, Tripataka, Kathakamuka and Alapadma

in our dance.


Tripataaka Mudra

The word Tripataaka means "three parts of a flag".

In a dance story it can mean one of many things including:

  • A crown

  • A tree

  • An arrow

  • Thunder

  • A lamp

  • A pigeon

  • A Ketaki flower

Ardhapataaka Mudra

Ardhapataaka means "Half Flag".

In a dance story it can represent:

  • Leaves

  • A slab for writing

  • The bank of a river

  • A knife

  • A tower

  • To indicate "Both"

  • An animal horn

Katakaamukha Mudra

Katakaamukha Mudra means "Opening in a Bracelet"

It is generally used to express:

  • The picking of flowers

  • Holding a necklace or garland

  • Talking and seeing

  • Pulling a bow string

  • To show preparation od a paste of sandal or musk

  • Offering Beetle leaves





For demonstrations of Adavus click here

Tatta and Natta Adavus

We are learning Tatta and Natta adavus.

Tatta means to tap.

Tatta adavus involve stamping.

Natta means to stretch.

Natta adavus involve stretching to form

beautiful patterns.

Here is some of the footwork we are

using in our dance...

tatta adavu
Tatta adavu position
natta 1b
Natta adavu starting position
natta adavu1
Natta adavu: Step 1
natta adavu2
Natta adavu: Step 2
natta adavu3
Natta adavu: Step 3

More Symbolism...

natya shastra

Natya Shastra

The Natya Shastra is an ancient Indian text on the Arts.

It is over 2000 years old.

Anu explained to us that our eyes must follow our hastas. Why?

According to the Natya Shastra ...

Yato hasta stato drishtihi,

Yato drishtihi tatho manaha,

Yato manah tatho bhaava,

Yato bhava tatho rasa


Where your hands (hasta) go, your eyes (drishtihi) follow,

Where the eyes (drishtihi) go, your mind (manah) follows,

Where the mind (manah) goes, inner feelings (bhava) follow,

Where there is bhava, mood or emotion (rasa) is invoked.


Bindis :

The word bindi means a "drop" or "spot".

In the past bindis were worn only by married women. Now they are worn by both

women and girls.

Since ancient times, the area between the eyebrows has been considered to be

the seat of wisdom, where all experience is gathered in total concentration.

Our Temple Jewellery has arrived!

The origin of Temple jewellery dates back to the 12th century. Temple jewelry is considered to be auspicious and that’s why during festivals and occasions of worship of Gods, Indian females like to wear temple jewellery.

Temple jewellery is supposed to bring good luck to the wearer. In olden times temple jewellery was made of gold, rubies, emeralds and pearls. These days the jewellery is made using a variety of metals like silver and brass as its base.

The silver and brass is then plated in gold before coloured kemp stones are added. The designs are traditional and the jewellery is made by skilled artisans.

Women’s costumes involve a significant amount of jewelry, including bangles, necklaces, rings, ear rings, nose rings, and special ornaments for the arms and head...


Our box of Temple Jewellery contains:

  • Jumka/Jimiki - ear rings

  • Sooriyan and Chandhiran - sun and half-moon hair ornaments.

  • Netthi Chudi - head accessory

  • Mukutthi - nose pins

  • Long pearl necklace

  • Dance Ghungaroo/Salangi - ankle bells.

  • Bangles




The pair of anklets or ankle bells (salangai in Tamil, gungaroo in Hindi) make the rhythmic footwork of the dance audible. Dancers treat their salangai like musicians treat their instruments.

The salangai are blessed by the dancer’s guru, they are worshipped on special occasions, and are never worn casually.

Anu gave us a useful tip for getting the bangles on - if you over your hand in a plastic bag, the bangles will slip on more easily...