Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form that originated in the temples of Tamil Nadu more than 2,000 years ago. In Singapore, it is one of the most widely performed dance styles today and is characterised by angular body movements, rhythmic footwork, hand and eye gestures, abhinaya (facial expressions) and sculpturesque poses.
This classical Indian dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient Northern India. Along the way however, it absorbed traces of temple and ritual dances, as well as certain features of Persian dance, which is the form we see now. This graceful dance incorporates quick rhythmic footwork, spins and elegant poses.
Kathakali is a classical Indian dance form that originated from Kerala around the 17th elaborate make-up and costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements. Though only men used to practice this dance form (even the female parts), women are beginning to become a part of this rich tradition too.
Originating from the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, Karnatic music developed around the musical works of phenomenal composers such as Purandara Dasa, Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri. The basic elements of this form of music include sruti, swara, raaga and taala. The music itself was written to be sung and it is usually taught and learnt through compositions.
A wind instrument made of bamboo, the flute is one of the oldest musical instruments of India. In Karnatic music, flautists commonly use the Venu or Pullangkuzhal which is the eight-holed flute.
Although it started out as an accompaniment instrument in Karnatic music, the violin has become popular as a solo instrument nowadays. Unlike the Western style, the violinist plays the instrument while sitting cross legged, with his right leg slightly extended. The scroll of the violin is placed below the ankle of the right foot.
The veena is a string instrument that is plucked. There are several types of veenas but in Karnatic music, vainikas usually play the Saraswati veena or the Chitra veena.
As a percussion instrument, the mridangam is usually the primary rhythmic accompaniment in Karnatic music. A mridangam player has the important role of ensuring all artists in an ensemble keep their timing in check.
Introduced to Indian music in the 19th century, the harmonium is a reed organ with hand pumped bellows. The most common playing position these days is the standard sitting position where the harmonium is placed on the ground, and the right hand plays the keys while the left hand pumps the bellows.
Hindustani vocals differ greatly from Karnatic vocals. The former originates from North India and has some Persian influences. It has several different genres such as Khyal, Ghazal and Thumri.
Comprising a set of physical exercises known as asanas (postures), hatha yoga is often practised to open the many channels of the body, particularly the spine. The main aim is to allow energy to flow freely. Hatha yoga also helps to find the balance between strength and flexibility.
Prana is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers. Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling our prana through our breath. The techniques rely on breathing through the nostrils.
A form of street play, Therukoothu has an informal dance structure. Performances usually depict scenes from ancient epics or tamil classics. There is usually no dialogue and instead artistes are trained to sing in their own voice, much like a musical.