The One with the Temple

This is part of my series - The Bharatanatyam Dancer, an ode to the oldest classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam.

Every dance form is art and each performer is truly a gifted artist. As someone who will perhaps be not able to put two perfect steps together - even at gunpoint - I sincerely envy those who can. That aside, I believe, few forms can match the emotive appeal and the story telling prowess of Bharatanatyam, the classical dance associated with the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. Some may even publicly hint at 'regional bias' since I have roots in that land. Honestly though, this artistry has to be seen and experienced, to be able to appreciate the text and the sub-text in every single nuance. The gestures by the face, the hands and the torso can convey a spiritual passage, a prayer, a vedic text or even a dramatic scene from the Indian epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Puranas. 

This art, it is believed, has a cosmic reference with Lord Shiva himself as the originator and a practitioner. The 'Tandava' dancing Shiva, in the form of Nataraja, is perhaps one of the most iconic portrayal of Bharatanatyam. A divine mix of Bhava (emotions), Raga (melody) and Thala (rhythm), Bha-ra-ta-natyam is a treat to both, the layman and the connoisseur alike. 

Here dancer Rishivanthi perfoms the art with much grace and passion, on the majestic Thally Hills, around the relatively diminutive yet gorgeous Shiva Temple. The mudra (gesture) enacted is called the Mayura - Sanskrit for peacock. It depicts the beautiful bird displaying its colourful plumage, especially when the clouds indicate the impending monsoon.

PS: As an acknowledgement to Rishivanthi's other love - the TV show Friends - each image in this series has been titled as such. Phoebe would approve, I think.