Similarities and dissimilarities:
Kandyan dance and Bharatha Natyam
In Sri Lanka both the major communities are very closely linked to
each other and they appreciate their cultural values. Besides these,
they have very close links in religious relationship. Today, majority of
young Singhalese children are learning Bharatha Natyam, and they try to
master this art form, which is very much appreciated by the people of
Sri Lanka. Such attitude will cultivate the mutual understanding between
the two major communities in the country. Bharatha Natyam is totally
based and deeply rooted in Hinduism, Tamil literature, and Carnatic
music. That is why non-Hindus and non-Tamils cannot master this art form
after they reach a particular level.
Learning Kandyan dance among the Tamils is less as compared to the
Singhalese population who are learning Bharatha Natyam. But the Tamil
population appreciates and loves the Kandyan dance. Most of the national
schools and semi national schools are having at least one form of
oriental dance. But majority of the so called international schools do
not bother to have any oriental classical dance forms, or to promote the
cultural appreciation between the two major communities, which is more
important for the present condition of the country.
Instead of this the international schools try to promote the Western
and modern fusion dances to attract the younger generation.
Bharatha Natyam evolved out of Sathir, earlier the temple dancers
were called Devadasis, and the court dancers were called Rajadasis. Such
differences did not exist in the Kandyan dance. Kandyan dance had it's
origin from the temple dance known as Degge Natuma, which no longer
existed like Satir.
In Bharatha Natyam female artistes play the important role, in the
performances, but in Kandyan dance the males and the females, play
important and equal role in the field of performances. Similarly in
Bharatha Natyam most of the performing artistes are females, but the
males contributed a lot for the present development of Bharatha Natyam.
Bharatha Natyam is not at all practised in temples as it was legally
banded in South India. But Kandyan dance is still practised in Bhuddist
Devalayas during the Pereheras (temple festivals).
Bharatha Natyam is not practised in the street processions, whilst
Kandyan dance is practised in the street processions.
The pre history of Bharatha Natyam is divine and it is believed to
have it's origin from Lord Siva. Hence the origin and history of
Bharatha Natyam is far older than the Kandyan dance.
The ornaments and costumes in Bharatha Natyam are much richer and
glamorous. The purpose of wearing such ornaments have certain
significance of its own, as compared to Kandyan dance. In Kandyan dance
wearing different ornaments do not reveal much specific purpose; mostly
it serves as a decorative ornamental purpose. The makeup of Kandyan
dance is entirely different from Bharatha Natyam.
In Bharatha Natyam the stage décor is very elaborate, but in Kandyan
the stage décor is simple and neat. Bharatha Natyam is full of Abinaya,
Bhava, Rasa and full of Anga, Pirathi Anga and Upa Anga movements.
Bharatha Natyam has pure Nirtha, Nirthiya and Natya aspects, but Kandyan
dance is totally believed to have been considered as a pure Nirtha
aspect but after the inclusion of Vannam, in Kandyan dance, it provides
an opportunity to use Nirthiya to some extent.
Dance drama is a branch in Bharatha Natyam, but in pure Kandyan dance
there is no dance drama, yet some of the present generation, dance
teachers compose dances based on some legends. When dance is composed on
such legends they are regarded as dance drama in Sinhala dance.
Yet there are a lot of similarities between the Kandyan dance and
Bharatha Natyam. In Kandyan dance and Bharatha Natyam, half sitting
position, and separation of feet, are quite common. But the gap between
the two legs are wider in Kandyan dance, rather than the gap between the
two legs in Bhartha Natyam. In both dance forms the Knees are facing two
different directions. Similarly in both dance forms arms are stretched
out at the shoulder level, and in both forms the neck movements follow
the hand movements together.
In Bharatha Natyam there are nearly twenty to thirty single hand
gestures, and twenty three double hand gestures. In Kandyan dance there
are nearly twelve hand gestures.
Earlier both these dance forms are regarded as solo dance forms, but
today both these dance forms are performed as group dances. Hence both
these oriental dances have a lot of similarities and dissimilarities and
have their own identity and their own standard and status in the