The most celebrated art form of the Southern Indian State of
Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam is a dynamic and
earthy dance style. It is one of the oldest of the Indian classical dance forms.
It is, in effect, a tradition that demands of the performer - total dedication,
detachment from worldly ties and a sublimation of self to the art. Bharatanatyam
is a relatively new name. It was earlier known as Sadir,
Dasi attam, and Thanjavur
As an art offering to the temple deities,
this form ushered in the custom of temple servitors called devadasis
who danced only for the gods. With the passage of time and corrupting cultural
influences, as also changes in patronage and promotion, the devadasis came
to be associated with those serving men, not gods. The contemporary form of Bharatanatyam
evolved during the late 18th or early 19th century. Sadir, which was till then
the domain of devadasis, reached its nadir during 1910-1930 with the degeneration
of social morals.