Bharatanatyam is a dance form originating in tamilnadu a state in southern india and is also the National Dance of India. This dance form denotes various 19th and 20th century reconstructions of Cathir, the art of temple dancers. Cathir in turn, is derived from ancient dance forms. Bharatanatyam is usually accompanied by the classical Carnatic music.
-In ancient times it was performed as dasiattam by temple Devadasis in various parts of South India. Many of the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples are based on dance Karanas. In fact, it is the celestial dancers, apsaras, who are depicted in many scriptures dancing the heavenly version of what is known on earth as Bharatanatyam.
-Bharatanatyam is considered to be a fire-dance — the mystic manifestation of the metaphysical element of fire in the human body. It is one of the five major styles (one for each element) that include Odissi (element of water), and Mohiniattam (element of air). The movements of an authentic Bharatanatyam dancer resemble the movements of a dancing flame. Contemporary Bharatanatyam is rarely practiced as Natya Yoga, a sacred meditational tradition, except by a few orthodox schools (see Yoga and Dance).
Bharatanatyam is one of seven classical dance styles, and said to be one of the oldest existing traditional Indian dances.