This article is contributed by Mallika Jayanti. The source of the above article is: http://www.dhdi.free.fr/recherches/horizonsinterculturels/articles/bharatanatyamyoga.htm
Nritya is that manifestation of dancing that includes both Rasa (aesthetic flavour) and Bhava (human emotions), as in the dance with Abhinaya, the art of expression.
There are nine major classical categories of emotions or Rasa, called Nava Rasas that are depicted in the Abhinaya of Bharatanatyam . These are Shringara (erotic love), Haasya (humour and laughter), Karuna (compassion), Roudra (anger), Veera (heroism), Bhaya (fearful terror), Bheebatsa (disgust), Adbhuta (wonder-awe) and Shanta (peacefulness).
The Nava Rasas are a major form of emotional catharsis and Natya (dance) helps cleanse the negative aspects of human emotions and sublimate them for higher emotions of Divine Bhakti. They are also a great means of psychological preventive therapy as most modern societies give little or no scope for expression of these emotions in the proper manner.
The Nava Rasas also help youngsters to learn about these emotions in a positive manner. They can then produce a balanced wholesome personality who embodies Sama Bhava or equal mindedness.
According to one of the greatest exponents of Bharatanatyam , Balasaraswati “Bharatanatyam , in its highest moment, is the embodiment of music in its visual form. For more than thousand years, the Shastras have confirmed that an individual dedicated to dance must be equally dedicated to music and must receive thorough training in both the arts. In demonstrating the art of Bharatanatyam abroad, I have made a special point of showing audiences how delicately linked is the realisation of movement to Raga expression in Abhinaya, including the subtle expression of Gamakas, intonation of Sruti, and the unfolding of improvisation in Niraval. In the same way that we look for perfect blending of Raga and Tala and of Raga and Bhava in Abhinaya, so also it is essential that the Raga and the Sahitya be perfectly matched and in accordance with the necessities of expression in the dance.”
She also points out, “Shringara stands supreme in this range of emotions. No other emotion is capable of better reflecting the mystic union of the human with the Divine. I say this with great personal experience of dancing to many great devotional songs, which have had no element of Shringara in them. Devotional songs are, of course, necessary. However, Shringara is the cardinal emotion, which gives the fullest scope for artistic improvisation, branching off continually, as it does, into the portrayal of innumerable moods full of newness and nuance”.
She continues in the same vein by saying, “If we approach Bharatanatyam with humility, learn it with dedication and practice it with devotion to God, Shringara which brings out the great beauties of this dance can be portrayed with all the purity of the spirit. The flesh, which is considered to be an enemy of the spirit and the greatest obstacle to spiritual realization, has itself been made a vehicle of the Divine in the discipline of the dance. Shringara thus is an instrument for uniting the dancer with Divinity. Since the dancer has universalized her experience, all that she goes through is also felt and experienced by the spectator”.