History of Bharatanatyam (Credit onlinebharatanatyam.com)

BHA- Bhava (Expression), RA- Raga (Music) and TA- Tala (Rhythm)

With ancient roots more than 2000 years old, Bharatanatyam evolved over the centuries taking its present form some 250 years ago. Traditionally the dance was performed by Devadasis (community of temple dancers) in the ancient temples. The Devadasis were women who dedicated their lives to serving the temple deity as dancers and musicians and their performances were an inherent part of the elaborate temple and court rituals.

Somewhere around the 1930’s some surviving Devadasis such as the legendary Balasaraswati were called for stage performances by the elite educated Class. Thus Rukmini Devi was the first ever educated elite to learn this dance form under the guidance of Balasaraswati.

The present form of Bharatanatyam as we know it today has been codified and documented by four brothers Chinnayya, Ponnayya, Vadivelu and Sivanandam in the early 19th century. They are also famously known as the Tanjore Quartret. Their dance compositions form the bulk of the Bharatanatyam practiced today. Guru Asha Gopal teaches Pandanallur Style.


Pandanallur Style (wikipedia.com)

The Pandanallur style of Bharata Natyam is mainly attributed to Minakshisundaram Pillai (1869–1954). He was a dance Guru who lived in the village of Pandanallur, which is in the Thanjavur district in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Pandanallur style has a reputation for its emphasis on linear geometry in adavu technique and for intensity and understatement in abhinaya.

The Pandanallur style is renowned for its masterpieces in choreography: some of the main gems in its repertoire are the Nine or Ten Tanjore Quartet pada-varnams (Sakiye, Sami Ninne, Mogamana, Danike, Adimogam, Yemanthayanara, Yemaguva, Sami Nee Ramanave, Sarasijanaba) for which Minakshisundaram Pillai composed the choreography: both dramatic choreography which he called simply "hands" as well as the adavu choreography for the swara passages.

Also, part of their heritage are the valuable jatiswarams (in ragams Vasantha, Saveri, Chakravakam, Kalyani, Bairavi), which are miniature masterpieces of elegant abstract adavu choreography.