Classified as one of the oldest among all the classical dance forms of India, Bharata Natyam holds a prominent place in Indian performing diaspora. Over the centuries, innovations and creativity has molded it, keeping its original purpose of entertaining and making it more spiritual and divine in approach. As much as there is room for improvisations and imaginative interpretations, Bharata Natyam is a science in itself. One has to follow the parampara, shastras, sampradaya and certain technical rules to keep its originality and purpose alive.
Bharata Natyam, along with the other classical art forms in India, has its origins in the manuscript called the Natya Shastra which was written by Sage Bharata around 4000 BC. It was primarily conceived out of the urge to express one's emotions and exuberance. According to Hindu mythology, when the world was in a state of turmoil and endless conflicts, and greed and desires prevailed, Brahma (The god of creation) pooled theatrical resources from the four Vedas to create a fifth Veda called the Natya Veda. Thus, as a form of expression, often called a yoga, dance proved to be a medium through which common man could find unity between the cosmos and its creator.
Bharathanatyam was patronized by kings of India, which inspired rare architecture through out the construction of major temple. With British invasion of India, the art forms took a beating, when the colonial powers made it illegal to perform in temples. In late 19th
centuries, Bharathanatyam was known as Sadir, was strictly prevalent in temples and was performed on religious and festive occasions by Devadasis. It was later part 1940's that Bharata Natyam revolutionized and gained attention and regarded as a classical art form through efforts of Rukmini Arundale and others who pioneered to save the classical art forms by establishing reputed institutions such as Kalakshetra.
The different Bharathanatyam style evolved based on the Gurus and their cities. The most visible styles of Bharathanatyam are
These styles are classified based on variations in movement vocabulary, teaching methodologies