Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All about Thillana..(Bharatanatyam)

'Tam Tam Tam...Ta Ra Dhirana'

'Thillana'- the final item of 'Bharatanatyam Margam' is a pure 'Nritta'(dance) item, where the virtuosity of 'Raga'(music) is reflected in complex and vibrant footwork and captivating poses of 'Narthaki'(dancer).

The word 'Bharatanatyam' literally means the culmination and combination of the following components:

Bharatanatyam is considered to be a fire-dance — the mystic manifestation of the metaphysical element of fire in the human body. Bharatanatyam proper is a solo dance, with two aspects, lasya, the graceful feminine lines and movements, and tandava Ananda Thandavam (Tamil) (the dance of Shiva), masculine aspect, which is identical to the Yin and Yang in the Chinese culture. On the whole Bharatanatyam is the manifestation of the ancient idea of the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the material body. Watching a pure 'Nritta' item like 'Thillana', proves my point.

The Thillana that I am learning right now is in Surya Ragam and Adi Talam. I am an 'Ekalavya Shishya' of Srimati Srekala Bharat of the 'Learn Bharatanatyam on DVD' fame. Yes, I wouldn't recommend anyone to learn bharatnatyam on DVD, unless you had learnt basics and more in a proper traditional 'Guru-Shishya' form for few years. Certainly there are few cons to learning an item like 'Thillana' on DVD, when the focus is on expression of the dancer for few seconds, you would loose precious 'Adavu's'(footwork). To understand and get back to rhythm, not only do you need the basic's of 'Adavu's but vital understanding of 'Talam'(rhythm) and some good understanding of carnatic music as well. Basically, you will have to step into the shoes of your teacher and understand her style of choreography.

The pro being, I am pursing my passions with these limited resources and time. I very well know that my performance might not be up to mark to many guru's, however I am not the kind who at her 60Th birthday will sit back and curse her ill fortune for not being able to learn the passions that I so much love. Makes sense?

Traditionally, most accomplished dancers start learning 'Bharatanatyam', from pre teenage and go forward until their quench for dance is fulfilled. I have been unfortunate that I could not do this at the right time. However, I decided not to sit back and mourn about it. I believe, true passions and dreams do not need resources but only your determination and endurance to make believe your dreams are for real.

Below are few links of Thillana's that I watched over YouTube and was very impressed. There are many Thillana's that I liked, but the below few depict a very fresh, different and unique composition of footwork and hand gestures(mudra's) and not to mention excellent choreography.

Hope you enjoy them too.

Thillana 1
Thillana 2
Thillana 3

Thats all for the keys today, time for a ground breaking dance practice. :-)


  1. It's not only interesting Madhoo. It is beautiful! From the way you are learning, I can perceive how deeply rooted is your passion and how closely you are attached towards Bharatanatyam! I also feel sad that you are unable to pursue the way it has to be. you are doing your best in it's pursuit! Hope your wishes will be fulfilled Madhoo. You are the best! A very good elucidation for who are unknown to this art and those who dunno the intricacies and this is a paradigm for those who are trying to pursue and unable to find ways..You are very true to your words there..that 'true passions and dreams do not need resources.. this is very inspiring!

  2. @Ravi-thanks for the motivation, means so much on this dull and icy day!

  3. U know wat, Thillana used to b my main dance when i was learning bharatnatyam. My guruji used to teach it with so much passion, equally passionate was i. I used to love it and i gave nearly 7-8 performances on it, memories left now!!!

  4. @aruna- you shud pick it up again dear. Dance is a 'Jeeva Kala', it should be live like a river not stagnant. You have such gr8 tastes and personality, leaving such a wonderful art is painful...
    wishing u good luck..

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  6. Hi Madhoo
    I am also a Bharatanatyam dancer. I was searching for a thillana when I hit this page. Can you give me a web reference where I can listen to / download the music to a Thillana in Surya Raga on Lord Surya, please?
    Thank you in advance
    Adithya Ram