Vazhuvoor Bharatanatyam Style and Melattur Bharatanatyam Style: A Comparative Exploration

Anish Fathima Gulamkadar · Oct 6, 2023 · 6 mins read

Bharatanatyam, one of the most revered classical dance forms of India, has a rich and diverse history. It has evolved into various regional styles, each with its unique characteristics and artistic expression. Two prominent styles that have captured the hearts of dance enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike are the Vazhuvoor and Melattur styles of Bharatanatyam.

In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve deep into the intricacies, historical backgrounds, techniques, and distinctive features of both Vazhuvoor and Melattur Bharatanatyam styles, shedding light on what makes each style so captivating.

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The Origins and Legacy of Vazhuvoor Bharatanatyam Style

Vazhuvoor, a picturesque village in Tamil Nadu, has been a cradle of Bharatanatyam excellence for generations. The Vazhuvoor style is renowned for its distinctive attributes, which set it apart within the realm of this classical dance form.

1. Graceful Movements

One of the hallmark features of the Vazhuvoor style is its emphasis on graceful movements. Dancers in this style are known for their fluid and elegant gestures that create a lyrical quality in their performances. The dance movements seem to flow effortlessly, captivating the audience with their beauty and poise.

2. Balanced Abhinaya and Nritta

Bharatanatyam comprises two essential elements: Abhinaya (expressive aspect) and Nritta (rhythmic, pure dance). In the Vazhuvoor style, these elements are beautifully balanced. While the dance incorporates intricate footwork and rhythmic patterns (Nritta), it seamlessly integrates expressive storytelling (Abhinaya) into the choreography. This equilibrium results in a well-rounded and engaging performance.

3. Intricate Footwork and Adavus

The foundation of Bharatanatyam lies in its basic steps and movements called “adavus.” Vazhuvoor is known for its emphasis on these adavus, which are executed with precision and finesse. The intricate footwork and rhythmic patterns in this style contribute to its distinctive appeal.

The Historical Significance of Melattur Bharatanatyam Style

Melattur, another village in Tamil Nadu, has its unique place in the world of Bharatanatyam, characterized by its rich history and artistic innovations.

1. Emphasis on Abhinaya

In contrast to the Vazhuvoor style, the Melattur style places a significant emphasis on Abhinaya, the expressive aspect of Bharatanatyam. Dancers in this style are known for their ability to convey intricate emotions and narratives through their facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movements. This emphasis on Abhinaya makes Melattur performances particularly captivating and emotionally resonant.

2. Unique Choreography

Melattur Bharatanatyam is celebrated for its distinctive choreography. Dancers often incorporate creative and innovative movements into their performances, making it stand out from other styles. The choreography in Melattur style often draws from classical literature and folklore, bringing timeless stories to life on stage.

3. Influence of Bhagavata Mela

The Melattur style of Bharatanatyam has a close association with the Bhagavata Mela tradition. Bhagavata Mela is a unique form of traditional theater that blends music, dance, and drama to narrate stories from Hindu mythology. This influence enriches the Melattur style with a deep connection to ancient storytelling traditions.

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A Comparative Study: Vazhuvoor vs. Melattur Bharatanatyam

Now that we have explored the individual characteristics of Vazhuvoor and Melattur styles, let’s undertake a comparative study to understand the differences and similarities between these two captivating traditions.

1. Expression vs. Technique

  • Vazhuvoor: This style leans towards graceful movements and technical precision. While Abhinaya (expressive aspect) is an integral part of Vazhuvoor, it is harmoniously balanced with the Nritta (pure dance) elements. Dancers in this style excel in precise footwork and rhythmic patterns.

  • Melattur: In contrast, Melattur places a greater emphasis on Abhinaya, making it more expressive and emotionally charged. While the technical aspects are not overlooked, the primary focus here is on conveying intricate emotions and narratives through the dance.

2. Costumes and Makeup

  • Vazhuvoor: Dancers in the Vazhuvoor style typically opt for simpler costumes and makeup. The emphasis is on purity of movement and elegance. The costumes are characterized by clean lines and minimalistic jewelry, allowing the dance to take center stage.

  • Melattur: Melattur dancers may use more intricate makeup and attire to enhance their expressiveness. Elaborate costumes, vibrant colors, and detailed jewelry are often employed to complement the storytelling and emotional depth of the performances.

3. Musical Traditions

  • Vazhuvoor: Vazhuvoor Bharatanatyam is often accompanied by traditional Carnatic music, which is known for its complex rhythms and melodic patterns. The music serves as a strong foundation for the dance, enhancing the overall experience.

  • Melattur: The Melattur style may incorporate elements of the Bhagavata Mela tradition into its music. This can include unique musical compositions and instruments that are specific to this style, adding a distinct flavor to the performances.

Appreciating Diversity Within Bharatanatyam

The diversity within Bharatanatyam styles, as exemplified by Vazhuvoor and Melattur, is particularly appealing to NRIs who seek to explore the art form comprehensively. Through online lessons, they can choose to specialize in one style or embrace the opportunity to learn and appreciate the unique facets of both. This diversity mirrors the cultural tapestry of the NRI community, allowing them to connect with their roots and express their heritage through dance.

Moreover, the comparative study between Vazhuvoor and Melattur styles provides NRIs with valuable insights into the nuances of Bharatanatyam. They can gain a deep understanding of how the emphasis on technique and expression varies between these two styles, and this knowledge enriches their dance journey.

As NRIs learn Bharatanatyam online, they also become ambassadors of this art form, sharing its beauty and cultural significance with their local communities. This cultural exchange fosters a greater appreciation for the art form globally, contributing to its continued relevance and growth.

Vazhuvoor and Melattur Bharatanatyam styles represent two distinct yet equally captivating expressions of this classical dance form. Vazhuvoor’s graceful movements and technical precision harmonize with its balanced approach to Abhinaya and Nritta. In contrast, Melattur’s emphasis on Abhinaya and unique choreography creates emotionally resonant and innovative performances. Both styles contribute to the rich tapestry of Bharatanatyam, showcasing the art form’s ability to evolve, adapt, and continue captivating audiences worldwide.

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Discover the traditional art of Bharatanatyam dance with Strarts courses. Experience the convenience of learning this timeless art form online by joining us for a free trial class. With Strarts, you can embark on your artistic journey from anywhere in the world, at any time that suits your schedule which makes us step high from others by our strartists’ view. Our online platform is designed to nurture the artist within you and provide you with the tools, guidance, and expertise needed to grow and excel in Bharatanatyam. Also explore our blog to delve deeper into the world of Bharatanatyam and discover the significance of the initial celebrative step, the ‘Salangai Pooja.’ Gain insights into the rituals, symbolism, and cultural importance of this beautiful tradition that marks the beginning of a dancer’s journey in Bharatanatyam. Join Strarts and let your passion for dance flourish in the digital realm.