Bharata Natyam Dance Class
West Studio. Suitable for beginners.
Bharata Natyam is a South Indian dance form. Its ancient historical origins are found in the temple dances of women. Its eternal cosmic origins embrace the stories of Siva as Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. Today, it is contemporary classical art performed in theatres across the planet by women and men of diverse cultures and backgrounds. It is much celebrated for its complete integration of expressive narrative and abstract movement. It is a total art form.
Mark has been dancing bharata natyam for 27 years. He began yoga lessons when he was 11, and was introduced to the dance by Chitralekha Bolar in 1987. In 1993, he became the pupil of his principal teacher Priya Sreekumar. He also trained with her guru Nattuvangum Paramasiva Menon.
In these classes Mark will teach you the fundaments of rhythmic footwork, sculptural postures, symbolic hand gestures and detailed facial expression. The dance is yoga for the body, emotions and mind. It is deeply physical and sweaty, but its fruits are subtle and mysterious. The goal of bharata natyam is evocation of the nine rasa, or highly refined emotions. Paramount of these nine is shanti, or peace. These classes are a space in which we can explore the stillness and silence that can emerge through our immersion in movement and music.
things standing shall fall,
but the moving ever shall stay
It is hard to understand all existence as One Undifferentiated Absolute. It can be fruitful to interact with vivid and symbolic personifications of this Absolute. In Hindu culture, these personifications are known as Ista-Deva. They include: Shiva as Nataraja (Lord of the Dance); Devi his consort, as seductive Parvati, heroic Durga, and furious Kali; and their sons, Ganesha with his elephant head, and Murugan who rides a peacock. Like facets of a jewel, these many beings are all symbols of the one Absolute. So too are abstract forms, such as the Sri Yantra pattern of interlocking triangles. Bhakti yoga is a Hindu path to realisation of the Absolute through devoted contemplation of such Ista-Deva. Bharata Natyam is a way to enter such a path of bhakti yoga - imagining, addressing, and embodying the deities. Dance in this way is devotion.
Please wear loose fitting trousers. We dance barefoot.
Tutor: Mark James Hamilton
Suggested donation to The Study Society of £5 per session.