A handbook on the nuances of Bharatanatyam

A Comprehensive Dictionary of Bharatanatyam carries 115 terminologies with corresponding images for easy understanding

May 02, 2024 11:34 am | Updated May 03, 2024 04:32 pm IST

Book cover.

Book cover.

To facilitate aspirants or students of dance understand the nuances of Bharatanatyam and focus on mastering the moves, Vidya Bhavani Suresh has released a book A comprehensive dictionary of Bharatanatyam (by Skanda Publications). It carries 115 terminologies related to the dance form along with short definitions and corresponding images. (illustrated by Harshita Suresh, Mahitha Suresh and Vidya).

The book explores various topics ranging from different types of abhinayas, aharyas, and araimandi posture to a student’s preparatory steps for a maiden performance, and how the make-up and ornaments add to the visual appeal. Beginning with abhinaya, there are explanations on the four types of abhinaya — angika, vachika, aharya and sathvika. The author uses vibrant images to illustrate the mudras, the symbolic hand gestures that form the cornerstone of angika abhinaya.

The book covers the various adavus or dance movements, and highlights its categories such as paidal adavu, sarukkal adavu and kuthadavu. It also has elaborate explanations of the different types of adavus and alarippu.

In addition to the core elements, the significant role of stage props, which adds to the aesthetic appeal of a performance, and that of tala or rhythm are also highlighted in the subsequent pages. Mention about Pancha Nadai, the five rhythmic combinations that form the basis of a dance performance, is an interesting piece of information.

A pictorial representation of single-hand and double-hand mudras offers a valuable reference for aspiring dancers. While the 267-page volume serves as a comprehensive reference material of Bharatanatyam, its length could have been reduced for greater portability and to retain readers’ interest.

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