Bharatanatyam and Kanchipuram Silks – the never ending bond

by Shatika, June 7, 2016


The Bharatanatyam dance form has a lot to do with postures and music. The costumes are made from silk and therefore the link. Kanchipuram is known for its superb silk and the rich silk sarees and these dance costumes are stitched for the depiction of the art form. Women have made beautiful traditional costumes from elaborately woven sarees like Kanchipuram or Dharmavaram. They are made in such a manner as to facilitate speed so that change into these costumes is easy. They are comfortable to wear as sarees and also as drama costumes customized to classical Indian dance. Tamil Nadu has many old gharanas like in music you also have masters who have privileged pupils who spend their life learning to dance. There is a dedication which is a bit difficult to understand. Grace, purity, and enchanting poses are adjectives which come to our mind. Bharatanatyam continues to maintain a monopoly and is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles, practiced by male and female dancers all over the world. We in India have a lot of influx of foreigners due to this exquisite dance form.

kanchi puram


The hindu temples have ancient sculptures which glorify this dance form in different postures. The celestial dancers, are depicted in many scriptures dancing the heavenly version of what is known on earth as Bharata Natyam. In reality this dance form was used to pacify the hindu deities reverence to with music and dance, pleasing to the senses and pleasant to the eye. Bharata Natyam, it is said, is the embodiment of music in visual form, a and an act of devotion. Dance and music are inseparable forms; only with Sangeetam (words or syllables set to raga or melody) can dance be taught….. Bharata Natyam is inseparable without the three ‘ns” Nritta (rhythmic dance movements), Natya (mime, or dance with a dramatic aspect), and Nritya (combination of Nritta and Natya). “Natya” portrays a character and “Nritya” can be seen as a type of story telling or ballad, using lots of hand gestures and emotions. Tamil Nadu, in particular, has always been the seat and centre of learning and culture. It was the famous haunt of Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu of the Tanjore Court during the Marathi King Saraboji’s time (1798–1824) which made rich contribution to music and dance. And who can forget Bala? Bharatanatyam dance requirements include specially made sarees, jewellery and hair ornaments, and specifically applied facial and body make-up. Multi-coloured and vibrant, the Bharatanatyam requirements enhance the timeless magic of Bharatanatyam dances.



A Bharatanatyam dance costume for women comprises of a Silk Saree which can be Kancheepuram silk or Dharmavaram silk, or synthetic silk, with gold zari embroidery designs and attractive pleats that opens up beautifully when the dancer showcases a particular posture. Another essential ingredient of a Bharatanatyam costume is a pair of anklets or ankle bells and a relevant amount of jewellery, including bangles, rings, earrings, nose rings, and special ornaments for the arms and head. For men, a Bharatanatyam dance costume includes a dhoti covering the lower body and no upper garment. Apart from this, the mens’ Bharatanatyam costume also includes ankle bells and less jewellery. The make-up is as elaborate, bearing no relation to man or woman. The eyes are done up expressively with the same makeup to the eyes as of a woman or a man!


As long as the ankle bells sound, the art will carry one and the great tradition will find glad hearts.

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