Fire Dance Picture

Indian dance is a blend of nritta - the rhythmic elements, nritya - the combination of rhythm with expression and natya - the dramatic element. Nritya combined with nritta makes up the usual dance programmes. Nritya comprises, abhinaya, depicting rasa (sentiment) and bhava (mood).

To appreciate Indian Dance (Natya or dance drama), one has to understand and appreciate Indian legends. These dances are dominated by rich Indian mythology. They also depict the ethos and values of the Indians.

Nataraja: Shiva, the King of Dances has an emphatic impact on the Indians. His cosmic dance conglomerates creation, preservation and destruction, Nataraja's dance is a metaphorical representation of human life, wherein the good and the bad eventually get neutralised.

Nataraja holds a small drum (damru) in his upper right hand. His lower right hand shows the fear-negating gesture (abhaya), his upper left hand is in half-moon pose (ardhachandra mudra) which holds a tongue of flame which is the fire (agni) that finally destroys the world and is then quenched in cosmic waters. Thus the hand holding the drum and the one holding fire balance the forces of creation and destruction. The second left arm is held gracefully across the chest (gajahasta mudra) with the hand pointing to the uplifted foot, denoting favour or grace for the devotee. One foot rests on Apasmara or Mauyalka, the embodiment of human cruelty and ignorance.

Surrounding Shiva's figure an immense aureole of flames emanates from him. The value of wisdom, truth and the mantra "om" is depicted through the flames.

The dances of India demand classical synergy between Nritya and Natya.
Continue Reading: The Graces