Welcome to Indian Classical Dance Brisbane
Eswaralaya Kalaikoodam (School of Dance) was first established in Sri Lanka in 1981, moved to New Zealand in 1988 and since 2003 has been successfully conducted in South East Queensland. Classes are conducted at Calamvale, (Southside of Brisbane), Chermside (North side of Brisbane) and Gold Coast. In a short period, this school has touched the lives of many children, shaping their dreams and aspirations of continuing the tradition of Indian classical dance.
The School conducts dance classes in Kalakshetra style. Though there are many different styles of dance in this day and age, Kalakshetra style is considered to be one of the oldest and most respected. The founding member of Kalakshetra: Smt. Rukmani Devi has said that “The purpose of teaching the arts is not merely to teach children to dance and sing, but to be cultured and beautiful people.”
The 8 Forms of Indian Classical Dancing
In ancient India, dance formed an important part of religion and was essentially a mode of worship. Natyam, vadhyam, and gitam were the paths that led one to the attainment of ‘moksha’ or spiritual salvation. It is of great interest to note that the origin of dance in India is traced to divine causes. The sacred art of dance is said to have been the brain-child of Brahma, the creator in the Hindu Trinity of gods. The term’ dance’ is used in our country for want of a more appropriate equivalent of the Sanskrit ‘natya’ which embodies a combination of dance, drama and music; in Indian art these three are closely related and can never be completely diversed from each other.
Bharatanatyam, which is the cultural heritage of Southern India, especially of Tamil Nadu, is said to have derived this name from Bharata Muni himself. Secondly, ‘Bharata’ itself means dance. Yet another school of thought propagated by Vedanta Desikar declares that the word ‘Bharata’ is actually an acrostic comprised of the syllables ‘bha’, ‘ra’ and ‘ta’ which respectively stand for ‘bhava’ (facial expression), ‘raga’ (musical note) and ‘ tala’ (rhythm); these three certainly form the essential aspects of Bharatanatyam and there can be no dispute regarding their Importance.
A dancer portrays emotions and expresses ideas through the vehicle of her art. Naturally the portrayal would carry no weight if devoid of facial expression. ‘
Tala’ or rhythm lies at the very foundation of all dance-forms. Without a complete awareness of ‘tala’, a dancer can perform no dance at all, for it motivates the artistic presentation. Lastly, inspiration is necessary for the dancer and this comes through the medium of music which is always a must in a Bharatanatyam recital. Besides, what is dance but music of the body. There is music in dance and dance in music. Technically speaking, Bharatanatyam has been divided into three distinct categories:‘Nritta’, ‘Nritya’ and’ Natya ‘. ‘Nritta’ is pure dance where the spot-light is on ‘ tala’ or time measure. ‘Alarippu’, ‘Jathiswaram’ and, ‘Thillana’ are apt illustrations of this group.Here no meaning is conveyed and the fundamental emotion is that of spiritual joy and ecstasy. These dances can be either done with or without music.
Originally, ‘Alarippu’ was performed only to the utterance of drum syllables. In present times these syllables are set to music and provide a melodious background to the dance. In ‘Nritya’ a fusion of ‘Nritta’ or pure dance and ‘bhava’ or facial expression can be perceived. ‘Varnam’, the most elaborate and intricate piece in Bharatanatyam recital which poses a challenge to the capacity of the dancer belongs to this category. Here intricate combinations of ‘adavus’ (or steps accompanied by limb movements) are interwoven with lines of the song. Expression through the language provided by the lines of the song is seen here.To the ‘Natya’ category belong dance dramas wherein each character is represented by a different dancer. Though essentially a style distinguished by solo presentation.