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Principal classical dance style of India, indigenous to Tamil Nadu and prevalent in South India. It expresses Hindu religious themes, and its techniques and terminology are found in the treatise Natya-shastra, written by the sage Bharata (3rd century AD). One dancer performs the entire two-hour program, accompanied by drums, drone, and singer. Originally performed only by female temple dancers, the art fell into disrepute as temple dancing became associated with prostitution, but it was revived in its original purity in the late 19th century. It was not brought to the stage until the 1930s.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on bharata natya, visit Britannica.com.