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Learning Tatta Adavu - First Adavu with Online Bharatanatyam Classes

20th Jul, 2022

Bharatanatyam is one of the most mesmerizing classical dances of India. It is well-known for its graceful movements, hand gestures and facial expression.

The Adavus of Bharatanatyam form the basic dance moves. In fact, every classical dance is based on the Adavus of that particular dance form. When speaking particularly about Bharatanatyam classes, you will notice that Adavus play a quite crucial role. And learning it with great perfection is imperative to perform gracefully.

With that being said, in this blog, we will take a specific look at Tatta Adavu in Bharatanatyam to understand its role and place in this excellent dance form. But before we dive in, let’s clear our basics by understanding –

What are Bharatanatyam Adavus?

Adavus in Bharatanatyam is basic dance steps. The graceful technique of this beautiful dance relies significantly on the base of the Adavus.

As per the definition, Adavu is a basic rhythmic dance unit in a specific time structure and tempo that comprises composite movements concerning Nritta.

An Adavu combines aspects like –

  • Sthanakas - The movement and postures of leg and foot
  • Mandalas - The dancer’s standing posture
  • Hasta Mudras - The hand gestures
  • Charis - The actual body movement

While learning the Adavus, the dancer is required to give importance to Angasuddha, meaning correct body posture and Talashudda, meaning correct movement to the rhythm.

When it comes to the rhythms, there is a huge difference between the Tandava rhythm and graceful Lasya movements. The dancer must be able to differentiate between both.

Adavus are practised in 3 kaalams or speeds –

  • Vilambitalaya - Slow Tempo
  • Madhya Laya - Medium Tempo
  • Drutalaya - Faster Tempo

The practice needs to be consequent in order to comprehend the tempo. The dancers require learning the slow tempo first during the initial Bharatanatyam dance classes and then slowly proceed to the middle and faster tempo at last.

To create the basis of the item, the adavus are combined into Theermanams or Jathis.

The Origin of Bharatnatyam Adavus

Aduvas can be traced back to Gangai Muttu Nattuvanar – the ancestor of the Tanjore Quartet around 300 – 400 years ago. The references to the same can be found in the Sangita Saramrita by King Tulaja II.

The rich tradition of Adavus shows a long history of development. The most popular ones include Thanjavur, Pandanallur, Kalakshetra, Vashuvoor, Mysore, etc., – all of them named after the region they originated from.

There are about 60 to 120 forms of Adavus taught in the Bharatnatyam dance classes before the actual forms of Bharatnatyam.

What is Tatta Adavu in Bharatnatyam?

The word “tatta” means “to tap.” In this type of adavu, only the legs are used. The dancer is taught the process of tapping the leg on beats.

The rhythm of tatta adavu involves eight steps and the usage of the word or bol, “thiyaa thai.” The term “thai thai tham” is also used alternatively.

Here is what each bol refers to –

  • Thaiya Thai - Tapping each leg once
  • Thaiya Thaihe - Tapping each leg twice
  • Thai Thai Tham - Tapping each leg thrice
  • Thaiyathaihe - Tapping each leg four times
  • Thaiya Thaithaitham - Tapping each leg five times
  • Thaithaitham Thaithaitam - Tapping each leg six times

The hands are stretched out as if pushing the walls from both hands.

Similar to most Adavus, even tatta adavu is performed in Aramandi or half-sitting position. During this position, the dancer’s knee is bent a little, creating a half triangle. The feet remain apart on the other sides, leaving a little difference between both the legs.

Aramandi position makes the dance and the costume of the dancer look beautiful and appealing. During the posture, the pleats of the costume on the lower part of the dancer’s body create a half fan. The vibrant colour of the costume makes the audience mesmerised by this dance form.

Three Steps to Performing the Tatta Adavu Right -

  • Come in Ardhamandal or aramandi position and place your palm on your waist, keeping the insides of the palm facing outside.
  • Now start with taping the right leg with feet flat and say “thai”, tap the same feet again while repeating “thai” again, then tap the right leg with flat feet and say “that”. Tap the left leg with flat feet saying “that.” Ground the left leg and tap your right feet while saying “thai,” then again tap your right feet repeating “thai” again, lastly tap your right feet flat on the floor while saying “tham.” Here one count of this step ends.
  • During the next step, you require starting with the left foot and follow the same process and repeating the same words again. Wherever there was right feet/tap used, you will require using left feet/tap and vice versa.

Watch this beautiful piece of Tatta Adavu in Bharatanatyam

Learn More at Kafqa!

Do you wish to know more about the Adavus in Bharatanatyam? Or are you looking forward to starting your journey as a Bharatanatyam dancer? Irrespective of what your concern is in regards to Bharatanatyam, Kafqa Academy is the right place to find all your answers.

Their Online Bharatanatyam classes are held for both kids and adults. The best thing is that their gurus ensure to enlighten every student with the dance form before proceeding with the Bharatanatyam dance classes.

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