Shabdam—an expressional dance with a small, delightful prelude and few
abstract and more pure dance movements. The poem or song can be either of
devotional, heroic or amorous theme; Varnam—the longest, most elaborate
and most challenging piece of a performance, with jatis alternating with
lyrical passages, describes the longing of a heroine for her lover; Padam—
expressive pieces that give the dancer full scope to demonstrate her talent for
abhinaya and Tillana—the final item which is in the form of pure and abstract
dance. It is entirely governed by the scintillating musical score and
incorporates intricate footwork and complex poses.
    In the conclusion of a Bharatanatyam performance chanting of a shloka as
benefaction accompanies the performance. The music is of Carnatic style and
the accompanying instruments are thala, mridangam, nagaswaram or flute,
violin and veena. Languages used in Bharatanatyam are Sanskrit, Tamil and
Kannada. Famous exponents of Bharatanatyam are: T. Balasaraswati,
Rukminidevi Arundale and Shanta Devi. Renowned contemporary
Bharatanatyam dancers include Yamini Krishnamurthy (also of Kuchipudi),
Sonal Mansingh (also of Odissi and Kuchipudi), Indrani Rehman, Padma
Subramaniam, Vijayantimala Bali, Leela Samson, K.R.S. Prasanna, S.
Sarada, Alarmel Valli, Malavika Sarukkai, Viji Prakash, Chitra
Visweshwaran, Sudharni Raghupati and Srekala Bharath and others.
Kathakali
Kathakali is a traditional dance-drama of Kerala, which originated in temples.
Various ritualistic, religious, folk and classical dance-drama traditions of
Kerala culminated into this form of dance. That is how it evolved. It
incorporates many dance forms of this region especially Kudiyattam,
Theyyams, Mudiyattam and the martial arts of Kalaripayattu. The great poet
Vallathol is credited with the resuscitating of Kathakali in the 1930s.
    Kathakali is generally performed in open air on a stage covered with
coarse mats and lit only by a brass lamp. It starts with continuous thundering
of the drums, Chenda and Maddala, followed by the Mangalacharan, an
invocation to the Gods and the main dance. This type of pure dance is called
Thodayam. This dance is filled with abhinaya and the dancers perform to the
themes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, the Puranas or the Vedas. The