Bharathanatyam is a classical dance form from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and is normally accompanied by classical Carnatic music. It is believed to have derived its name after the sage Bharata Muni who is the author of the thesis on dramaturgy – The Natyashastra. 

There is yet another origin of the name which is an amalgamation of the three syllables of the dance form;

Bha – Bhava
Ra – Ragam
Ta  – Talam

In ancient times, Bharathanatyam was performed as “sadir attam” (sadir means square stage) by Devadasis. Many of the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples are based on Bharathanatyam karanas or dance postures.

It was the famous Tanjore quartet of Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu of the Tanjore Court during the Marathi King Saraboji’s time (1798–1824) which made a rich contribution to music and Bharathanatyam and also completed the process of re-editing the Bharathanatyam programme into its present shape with its various forms like the Alaripu, Jathisvaram, Varnam, Sadanam, Padam and Tillana. 

E. Krishna Iyer was one of those who raised the social status of Bharathanatyam and greatly popularized it.

Rukmini Devi Arundale was instrumental in bringing it to the attention of the West. Having studied the Pandanallur style for three years, in 1936 Rukmini Devi Arundale founded the Kalakshetra School outside the city of Madras to teach her own Kalakshetra style of Bharathanatyam and to promote other studies in Indian music and art. 

She introduced group performances and staged Bharathanatyam-based ballets. Rukmini Devi raised Bharathanatyam to a puritan art form by removing objectionable elements mostly the Sringara and certain emotional elements.

Learning Bharathanatyam normally takes many years before the arangetram. Learning Carnatic music along with Bharathanatyam is an added advantage for the students.


At Pranavam School of Dance, we have 4 levels of Bharatanatyam:

Pravesha (Beginner) : This level is initiated into learning the basics of Bharatanatyam which includes postures, Adavus and Talam. The beginner level is further divided into 3 levels.

  • Mudra
  • Angika
  • Beda

Madhyama (Intermediary) : This level focuses on the basic elements of bharatanatyam introduced at the item level.  The intermediary level is further divided into three levels:

  • Nartaki
  • Bhava
  • Abhinaya

Unati (Advanced): This level focuses on advanced level of elements of Bharatanatyam which is further divided into 3 levels:

  • Margam 
  • Meda
  • Rasa

Puraskara: This level focuses on our teacher training program.

Refer to our curriculum page in our members portal for further details.