"A gift of Lord Shiva to the human race"
This is one of the several classical dance forms of India. It belongs to the southern region, especially to the state of Tamil Nadu. Bharathanatyam has 3000 years of recorded history and has evolved to the present form, which is perhaps three hundred years old.
Bharathanatyam is the manifestation of the South Indian idea of the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the body. In the Hindu mythology the whole universe is the dance of the Supreme Dancer, Nataraja (Shiva).
Nataraja (literally - The King of Dancers) is the dancing posture of Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction of Hinduism.
The upper right hand contains the Dhamarukha or the drum, which signifies sound or creation.
The upper left hand contains agni or the fire, which signifies total destruction.
The balance in hands tell the counterpoise of creation and destruction.
Bharathanatyam is considered to be fire-dance, being the mystic manifestation in the human body of the metaphysical element of fire. The movements of an authentic Bharathanatyam dancer resemble the movements of dancing flame.
Although most contemporary Bharathanatyam ballets are popularly viewed as form of entertainment, the Natya Shastra-based dance styles were sacred ceremonies originally conceived in order to spiritually elevate the spectators. Bharathanatyam proper is a solo dance, with aspects, Lasya, the graceful feminine lines and movements, and tandava, masculine aspect.