Bharatanatyam though is a dance originated in Tamilnadu has transcended different borders throughout and outside India. Thus the intra style interference and interpretations created the emergence of many styles in bharatanatyam. In fact every Guru who teaches bharatanatyam has his/her own style which is a matter of individual convenience. However, generally there are a few bharatanatyam styles which are commonly practised and followed which are depicted below:
This style was developed based on the devadasi traditions and melathur bhagavada mela by Mangudi Dorairaja Iyer during 1900-1980
• Feet are not stamped hard on the floor instead the dancer uses her chilankai (anklets) that produces variety of sounds highlighting the rhythm.
• A distinctive feature is the use of pancha nadais and extensive use of gati bhedas.
• More stress given on variations of patterned korvais and dramatic characterization
• Due to Devadasi influenze there is more emphasize on Sringara rather than bhakti
• Spontaneous movements / accuracy of jathis
• Natural and highly expressive that includes individual improvisation.
• Applies the principles of lokadharmi and natyadharmi
Pandanalloor Style

This style is attributed to Guru Meenakshisundaram Pillai who lived in the village called Pandanalloor in Thanjavore district of Tamilnadu. Meenakshi sundaram Pillai’s son in law Chokkalingam Pillai is known as the doyen guru of this style. tp://
• Emphasizes on the linear geometry in adavus
• Includes deep sitting positions
• Predominantly padaartha abhinaya and the abhinaya is more ritualistic ie; abhinaya is done in conformity with the rules set as per ancient texts.
• It’s a purely feminine dance style based on poetry or padams
• Rather slow and rhythmic movements
• Done in three levels – deep sitting positions, standing positions and moving or jumping the body with great speed making it difficult to perform
Vazhavoor style
This style was popularized by Ramai Pillai from the village Vazuvoor in Thanjavoor district of Tamilnadu
• Wide range of static postures is introduced to break the monotony of the dance movements that gives visual delights to the audience.
• The aspect of entering the stage from the sides is accredited to this style.
• Abhinaya is subtle applying natyadharmi (spontaneous/natural expressions) and more realistic.
• Adavus are done smoothly
• Abrupt movements are rare
• Variety of positions on the floor are included
• Rich sringar and lasya expressions
• Dancer’s body from the waist is bent forward at the waist level
• Leaps are introduced in every jathi
Kalakshetra style
This is the modern and latest style which is a simplified form of Pandanalloor style (Introduced by Rukmini Devi Arundhalae who was trained in pandanalloor style)
• Movements are angular, linear, sharp and clear cut
• Stiff and controlled movements
• Minimum lasya and sringara movements

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