Click here for all links

Social media links

featured in 2010

November 17, 2010

Dear Mrinalini-ji,

I'm a 20-year old student outside India and I have just begun learning Bharatanatyam for the past three months. However, I wanted to originally learn Kuchipudi because it's the classical dance of my home state. I've always admired classical dance from far, but never had the good opportunity to learn it. However, I'm young and inexperienced and don't know if it makes sense for me to switch over to Kuchipudi (I couldn't find a Kuchipudi teacher earlier) or first learn Bharatanatyam and then go to Kuchipudi. Does it really matter? What do you think?

Thanking you,
    Dear Sarita,

    Every dance form has its own specific peculiarities. Do learn Bharatanatyam as you have a teacher. You can always change to Kuchipudi whenever you find a good guru.

    With best wishes

    Mrinalini Sarabhai

October 23, 2010


I was hoping you could give an explanation of a "Choornike" and a little bit of background to go with it. I have learnt a Choornike, but was never sure of its usage in the process of a performance.

Thank you
Vyju Gopalan
    Dear Vyju Gopalan,

    Choornika was originally a part of Devadasi repertoire. It is an invocation, half prose and poetry sung generally in Marathi, Tamil or Sanskrit. Similar to Shloka or Virutham of contemporary repertoire.

    With best wishes

August 25, 2010

Dear Ms.Mrinalini

Greetings! I wonder if you could help us. We are not Indian, but my sixteen year old daughter has a close friend (since they were three) who is Indian and who is performing her arangetram this September. We are very honoured to be invited to attend this event! What would be an appropriate gift for a non-Indian girl to give a good friend at this time? We do not wish to seem presumptuous by giving a gift that implies a level of knowledge that we do not have, but we do want to give something nice. Can you help us?

Thank you!
    Dear Amanda,

    A good book on art would be appropriate.

    With best wishes

August 17, 2010


I want to know what is Mettu Adavu in Bharatanatyam, is it Kuditta Mettu or tatti mettu.
I want to know exactly which adavu is Mettu adavu.

Thanking you,
    Dear Soumyasree,

    Mettu means to stamp the heels on the ground and Tatti means to tap.
    In Kuditta Mettu Adavu, both the feet are raised onto the toes with a slight jump and then strike the floor together with the heels. Whereas in Tatti Mettu Adavu, the foot strikes the floor, is raised on its toes, and beats the floor with the heels.

    With best wishes

July 30, 2010

Namaste Mrinaliniji,

We are in the process of selecting music for my daughter's Arangetram which is scheduled in summer of 2011. She is fifteen years old and is passionate about Bharatanatyam. Most songs that we come across are in Tamil language in Carnatic style music. She would like to perform one or two songs in Gujarati or Hindi. I would highly appreciate if you can recommend good Gujarati or Hindi compositions which can be performed in Bharatanatyam.

Thank you in advance.
Sonali Amodwala
    Dear Sonali Amodwala,

    We often do Hindi and Gujarati songs in Hindustani style for Padams. The Varnam should be in Carnatic style as it's the most important item. You can select songs you like as from Mira Bhajans, Gita Govindam etc. Also legendary Swati Tirunal's compositions in Hindi would be a good choice.

    The Gujarati padams we normally do are 'Hey Chandramauli, Jal Kamal, Hun Shu Janu' etc.

    With best wishes
    Mrinalini Sarabhai

July 10, 2010

Respected Madam,
I understand, and it is obvious, that dancing results in heavy impact on the feet. This may cause injuries occasionally, immediately, or at a later stage in life.

Is there something we can do about it to avoid injuries, yet learn and perform dance (Bharatanatyam).

Deepak Dongre
    Dear Deepak Dongre,

    Any kind of dance form is beneficial for health if practiced properly.

    Proper training does not injure the feet. We have had more than 25,000 students and to my knowledge, no one has been injured.

    The teaching should be correct, ensuring right posture.

    With best wishes
    Mrinalini Sarabhai

June 7, 2010

Dear Mrinalini ji,

I have been training in the Bharatnatyam style of classical dance (earlier Kalakshetra and now Tanjavur) for a decade now. While I have not had many stage performances, I absolutely love my classes and with increasing time, my passion for this art form is progressively increasing. I have the following questions to ask of you.

a) Given my interest, I would like to further my understanding of Bharatnatyam. I don't want to pursue a 1-2 year degree course but would like to attend an intense workshop which would cover aspects of history, grammar and more importantly abhinaya. I read about the Milapfest in UK where eminent dancers are faculty and am looking for something similar here in India.

b) I have also been writing quite frequently on dance (two of my articles were featured on narthaki) and the importance of arts education in building peaceful harmonious societies. I would like to know if there are any forums on art and culture where I could participate and share my views and perspectives. I want to work (part time) with cultural bodies that are instrumental in effecting policies on enhancing arts education in children as also those that are looking to use this a medium for social reconciliation and cohesion.

Many thanks for your advice,
With deepest regards,
Aparna Mathur
    Dear Aparna,

    First of all let me correct you on the spelling of Bharatanatyam. The dance is Bharatanatyam (acronym of Bhava, Raga and Tala). If you miss an 'a' in between, it becomes the dance of India - Bharat Natyam!

    a) Since you do not want to pursue a course from any institution or university, it is better to identify a Guru who will help you out in covering the aspects of Abhinaya. There are many good teachers in Tanjavur. All the major dance institutions conduct workshops. You can find out more details from their respective websites.

    b) is a very good platform to share your views on dance. Also you can contribute to the leading art magazines. Regarding the forums, don't miss Sri Krishna Gana Sabha's 30th Naatya Kala Conference scheduled from 26th to 31st December 2010. Similar events are frequent in Chennai where you can meet with people of similar interest and share your views. Also, you can write to leading art institutions and universities to have an audience on dance / art topics.

    Wish you good luck.
    Mrinalini Sarabhai

May 31, 2010

Dear Mrinaliniji

I am 17 and have been learning since the age of five. I love Bharatanatyam and hope to pursue a career as a teacher. I do not live in India, but hopefully travel to India, to obtain my masters in Bharatanatyam. After gaining a degree in Bharatanatyam through a distance education program, with the help of my Guru (it is not possible for me to travel and study in India at the time) I have two questions
1. What good Bharatanatyam dance schools, with a masters program or post diploma aside from Kalakshetra would you recommend?
2. People around me tell me to stop dreaming, and starting being practical. I have wanted to be a dance teacher since I was 7. I know this is what I want to do. But everyone around me tells me to stop dreaming. I will also be gaining a undergrad degree in Business, so I can be financially stable. However, I am getting de-motivated by others around me. Any advice?

Thank your for you time
Warm regards
    Dear Amalu,

    If you are looking for a university approved course, there are many Universities. SNDT Women's University, Annamalai, Kerala, Sourashtra etc. are a few among them. Indira Gandhi National Open University also has on campus full time Master's Degree Program.

    Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya - Mumbai, Darpana - Ahmedabad, Lalit Kala Kendra - Pune etc. are some of the other institutions running similar courses.

    Wish you good luck.
    Mrinalini Sarabhai

May 29, 2010

Dear Mrinaliniji,

Warm Greetings!! I have a series of questions, kindly guide me as am an avid classical dance lover. Before the questions, a brief background. These questions are for my daughter, who is 10.5 yrs old. She started to learn Bharatanatyam at the age of 6. Due to travel abroad back and forth, she had to change gurus. Therefore she was trained in the Pandanallur style and right now training in the Kalakshetra style. Now we have decided to be in India. My questions:

1. Can the student be trained in two different styles simultaneously in two different schools, will that help her or should that never be done or not required at this stage? If so then when can she start learning two different styles in Bharatanatyam? Will both the gurus allow it or the gurus need not know about the other? Or no harm in telling them.

2. Some people say learning Kuchipudi or Mohiniattam or Kathakali side by side, will help the student learning different expressions and help them in Bharatanatyam - is that true? If required, then when should the training for such dances along with Bharatanatyam begin?

3. The reason for two different schools to learn I feel was one being staunch and traditional schools like Kalakshetra school, which is pure, refined and truly classical, at the same time there are stalwarts and thespians like Anita Ratnam, Shobana Chandrakumar (just for eg.) who take dance to a different platform by fusion, theatre and being successful in experimenting new ideas and theologies in dance. Do pardon me if Kalakshetra too has such fusion, theatre and typical non-traditional way of dance. If they do have it, then please let me know. Am I right if I choose Kalakshetra and say Arangham and Kalarpana for instance, to learn the nuances and get the benefit out of both simultaneously?

4. Though I love dance, I have not learnt dance, so how should I choose the guru for my daughter - is it based on the style, experience, or background of the guru or any other factor?

5. Also is there a Nattuvangam course anywhere? Can people like me learn it without learning Bharatanatyam?

I sincerely thank you for reading this over, hope you will understand my confusions and apprehensions. Please do reply me as I have to take decisions to move to Chennai based on this. Deeply appreciate your time and answers.

Thank you.

Sridevi Ravi
    Dear Sridevi Ravi,

    1. Each style has its distinctive characteristics. Teaching two different styles at an early age will only confuse the learner. Let your daughter stick to one particular style and do her arangetram. When she becomes more mature and able to differentiate things, surely she can go for other styles to enhance her dance vocabulary.

    2. At a later stage, while doing experiments, this might help. However, as I said earlier, at an early age it will only confuse the student.

    3. Rukmini Devi was instrumental in the renaissance of Bharatanatyam. Kalakshetra follows the form with its purity. Stick to one institution and its style till the arangetram, if possible.

    4. Choose a well known academy. At Darpana, once a student finishes the basic training she / he is free to choose other forms like Kalari, folk etc. Students also learn to innovate and new experiments go on all the time.

    5. At post graduate level, we have Nattuvangam sessions. I am sure institutions like Kalakshetra also has it.

    Mrinalini Sarabhai

March 8, 2010

Dear Mrinaliniji

I am Sumethra from Malaysia. I am learning Bharatanatyam for the past 4 years, but my guru keeps demotivating in a different way though we are doing good in adavus and items. Whenever I get that demotivated scolding, I always feels like giving up, but I bear all that because I want to be a good professional dancer and guru in future.
Kindly advice me and thanks in advance.

    Dear Sumethra

    Today is Women's Day and I have been speaking on the power of women since morning.

    Gurus will always scold a good student which makes them practice more, be more motivated on the contrary. Don't let this affect you. It's part of the training.

    With best wishes
    Mrinalini Sarabhai

Feb 14, 2010

Dear Mrinaliniji,

Please clarify my doubt about the term 'aksepa' (throw of limbs) used by sage Bharata. Why doesn't Kalakshetra style allow it?

Thanking you.
    Dear Apoorva

    Dance forms are only a part of the huge treatise Natyashastra. The authentic work on Tamil grammar 'Tholkaappiyam,' that was written in the third century BC by Tholkaapiyar mentions a lot about classical dance. So it is not proper to attribute Bharatanatyam only to Natyashastra. It is mostly Guru Shishya Parampara and the styles may change.

    Regarding 'aksepa' (or 'ksepa?'), it is difficult to get a specific meaning from the word to word translation of Natyashastra. Throw ('ksepa') of the limbs are in Karanas. The style I follow is both Muthukumara Pillai's and Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai's. As far as my experience, there was no restriction.

    Mrinalini Sarabhai

Jan 29, 2010

Dear Mrinaliniji,

I have doubts regarding how "korvai" is defined. In Bharatanatyam, Korvais are adavus strung together, while others say that they are pauses between the swaras. The first definition is when related to dance and the second definition, when related to Carnatic music. Can they be correlated? Can you please elaborate.

Thank you
Anjali Nandan
    Dear Anjali Nandan

    The word 'Korvai' means to thread together. In Bharatanatyam, 'Korvai' is a combination of 'Adavus' set to a particular 'Talam' and usually ends with a 'Theermanam' similar to how the beads are threaded together to make a garland. If we consider 'Adavus' as beads, 'Talam' is the thread and 'Theermanam' is the final knot we tie to finish the garland.

    In the second definition of 'Korvai' related to Carnatic music, I think you have mistaken the word 'Karvai' for 'Korvai.' While 'Karvai' is a pause between musical notes, 'Korvai' is purely mathematical and sung in 'Swara' patterns.

    Mrinalini V Sarabhai

Jan 28, 2010

Dear Mrinaliniji,

My daughter is preparing for her Arangetram in Bharatanatyam, which is slated for 13th June 2010.

I have a query and hope you will give suitable advice. I have seen many Bharatanatyam performances where the padams have been composed and choreographed on Gujarati poems/ bhajans. I will like to know if this is acceptable. My questions are:

1. Whether songs in Gujarati or any other language other than classical Telugu or Tamil can be used.
2. If yes, whether these can be composed exclusive of classical Carnatic style. Or, can we have a fusion of Carnatic and local style where the vocals can be sung to traditional Gujarati (non-classical) style and jatis in Carnatic style are added to the composition.

Of course, we are clear that the dance choreography will be strictly based on classical Bharatanatyam mudras and abhinayas. My daughter is keen that we don't violate the basic tenets of this great art. She will like to do it if such experimentation is considered evolutionary and hence acceptable. Your advise will help her stay the course.

Ketan Sanghvi
    Dear Ketan Sanghvi

    As far as Padam is concerned, you can use any music without the barriers of language and style, provided it goes well with the choreography strictly based on classical Bharatanatyam adavus and mudras.

    In fact, here in Darpana, I always tried to interpret Gujarati or Hindi Bhajans and songs so that the people in the audience could understand better. However I never tried 'fusion music' as I have an apprehension that it would affect classical Bharatanatyam.

    All the best to your daughter's arangetram.

    Mrinalini Sarabhai

Click here for all links
Ask Mrinalini | Home | About | Address Bank | News | Info Centre | Featured Columns