My tryst with Bharatnatyam started earlier this year when I learned the choreographed sequence below and performed it for the World Culture Festival 2016, New Delhi.
Prior to this, I had no freaking idea how hard this dance would be and what an achievement it would be to learn just a few basic steps (hand poses and feet thumping, right? WRONG. I was so wrong).
So many steps fit in less than 5 seconds. Your hands, waist, back, arms, thighs, gait, expressions, and eyes, – every part of you is needed to perform this dance. And let me not even get started on what a hard time my thighs and back had as I danced in Aramundi – the half-sit Bharatnatyam pose.
As I rhythmically thumped my feet with full force on the ground I was hit with the realization that this was definitely not the cakewalk it looked on TV. My feet were on fire, especially after the first few Bharatnatyam sessions.
Anyway, as I went on through multiple rehearsals, practice sessions, and a few sore muscles, this dance seem to have really benefited me and I was amazed to find these 9 awesome things about Bharatnatyam:
1. Increases your focus
Most of us work on an autopilot and we’re barely in the present moment. Bharatnatyam packs in so many steps in such a tiny amount of time that you can’t help but focus on getting it right. I noticed that once I started focusing completely on these dance moves, my overall focus in life increased.
2. Is an excellent cardio workout
Being a high-intensity dance, Bharatnatyam doubles as a fun cardio workout. Now who needs a gym after an intense session of adavus? In fact, at the end of my month-long Bharatnatyam practice session, I discovered that I had shed 3 kilos even with my good ol’ sweet tooth.
3. Makes You Feel Like a Goddess
I loved the Bharatnatyam dress – the one that I am wearing here has been rented on a short notice and may not be as stunning as what professional dancers normally wear. However, after putting on that heavy jewelry, hair bun, braid, hair flowers, fish-eye makeup, head jewelry, golden bangles, and golden kamarbund, I indeed felt like a celestial being who had just conjured on earth.
4. Improves Blood Circulation in your Lower Body
I work as an online marketer and as a result, I end up sitting at my workstation for long hours. A lifestyle like mine is prone to poor blood circulation. So I was happy to note that one of the benefits of Bharatnatyam is that it improves blood circulation throughout the body, especially in the lower extremities. I noticed this for myself when I could sit comfortably for long without any tingling sensation in my legs.
5. It is Fun to Make Those Facial expressions
Expressing vulnerability and pure emotions form the core of Bharatnatyam. From looking with love at a flower that blossoms in your hand (mudra) to being awestruck at the creator, I really loved the full-on display of emotions in this dance. My face came to life, quite literally as my body swayed to the taal.
6. Brings a Sense of Achievement
In India, especially in South India, young children are initiated into Bharatnatyam at a very young age. Now I understand why. The learning curve in this dance is truly remarkable and even seasoned professionals have told me there’s always something more to learn about this dance. As you learn and go on perfecting yourself, you can’t escape that feeling of achievement that comes with it.
7. Makes your Butt Look Better
Bharatnatyam is possibly one of the best bum-blasting exercises, any day less boring than squats and lunges, if you will. The secret ingredient? Aramandi. Aramandi. Aramandi and some more.
8. Tones Your Body
The various steps involved in the dance work to tone your entire body. In fact, it would be rare to see a long-time Bharatnatyam dancer with anything less than shapely legs and toned arms. So if you’re planning to get rid of those bat wings and chunky calves, now you know what to do! 🙂
9. Makes Your Complexion Glow
Of course, since Bharatnatyam improves blood circulation, a glowing complexion is just in the offing. So not just the clothes, jewelry, hair and makeup, even your face starts looking divine once you start performing this natya yoga. And who can forget Hema Malini, the 65+ Bollywood actress and a long-time Bharatnatyam proponent, who attributes her youthful looks and glowing skin to this dance form.
Are you a Bharatnatyam dancer or enthusiast? How has Bharatnatyam benefited you? Tell us in the comments below!