Bharathanatyam is the dance of India, so ancient, thus deeply classical. As my Guru V.P. Dhananjayan explains it in his book Natya; The essence of Hyndhava Dharma
the word Bharatha Natyam is attributed to
1. That the sage Bharatha created it.
2. That the word is the Anagram from the first letters of Bhava, Raga and Tala
3. That which banishes distress; BHARAM TARAYATI ITI BHARATHA
4. The dance of India or Bharata Desa
Bhava, Raga and Tala mentioned above means the emotion, the melody and rhythm encompassing the dance. The dancer starts with learning foot work and progresses to hand gestures and then displaying emotion.
This style of dance has it’s roots in the temples, even though widely performed in Theatres and Open spaces today. Temple performances are still popular and marked by outstanding milestones like Dr.Padma Subramanyam leading 1000 dancers at the Tanjore Big temple in 2010.
Bharathanatyam is a very structured dance style that imparts discipline to the dancer. Carnatic music, the rich classical music of south India is the backbone for the dance. Together the dance and music lend themselves to the unfolding of the legends of the land, handed down the generations. As the great epic Ramayanam is retold a million times, it is performed in dance drama Bharatanatyam style too a million times.