Abhinaya (Expressions)

The 4 types of abhinaya (expressions) in dance are:

  • Angika – physical or body movements.
  • Vaachika – the song being played, poetry.
  • Aahaarya – ornamentation of a character/dancer e.g. jewellery, costume.
  • Saattvika – involuntary movements e.g. trembling, break of voice, tears.

This is beautifully mentioned in the Dhyana Sloka:

Angikam Bhuvanam Yasya
Vaachikam Sarva Vangmayam
Aahaaryam Chandra Taaraadi
Tam Numah (or Vande) Saattvikam Shivam

The sloka means —
Whose bodily movement is the entire Universe
Whose speech is the language (of the Universe)
Whose ornaments are the moon and the stars
Him, we worship the pure (serene) Lord Shiva!

Angikam Body
Bhuvanam World (or Universe)
Yasya Whose
Vaachikam Speech
Sarva All
Vangmayam Languages
Aahaaryam Ornaments
Chandra Moon
Taaraadhi Stars
Tam Him
Numah (or Vandé) Bow / pray
Saatvikam Pure
Shivam Lord Shiva

Source: http://www.natyakriya.com/2013/01/nataraja-dhyana-shlokam.html



Thandava & Lasya

The Dance performed by Lord Shiva is known as Thandava which produces vigorous, brisk movements. The dance performed with bliss is called Ananda Thandava. The Thandava of the violent and destructive aspect is called Rudra Thandava. There are 7 types of Thandava in Bharathanatyam:

  • Ananda Thandava
  • Tripura Thandava
  • Sandhya Thandava
  • Samara Thandava
  • Kaali Thandava
  • Uma Thandava
  • Gauri Thandava

There are some Bharathanatyam experts who mentioned 16 types of Thandava.

The dance performed by Goddess Parvathi is known as Lasya. Here, the movements are soft, gentle, graceful and sometimes seen as erotic.

2 kinds of Lasya:

  • Jarita Lasya
  • Yauvaka Lasya



Source: http://humanitieslab.stanford.edu/117/admin/image.html?imageid=1144009


Navarasas (9 Sentiments)

Rasas Sentiments Bhava (moods)
Sringara Erotic Love
Haasya Comedy Satire
Karuna Compassion/Sympathy Pathos
Raudra Anger Fury
Veera Bravery/Heroism Valour
Bhayaanaka Terror/Fear Fright
Beebhatsa Disgust Aversion
Adbutham Wonder Amazement
Saantha Peace/Tranquility Serenity


Bhava (psychological states or moods)

  1. Vibhava: determinants
  2. Anubhava: consequences or results
  3. Sthayi bhava: permanent mood
  4. Vyabhichari bhava: transitory mood


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