Legend has it that
was the originator of the Bharatanatyam. Bharatanatyam is a dance normally performed by women, though men too perform it. The name 'Bharata' is constituted by the first three syllables of ‘bhava’ – the inner spiritual feelings, ‘raga' -the melody and 'thala' - the rhythm. ‘Bharata Muni’ is said to have learned the basics of dance from Lord Shiva, and arranged the principles in his book ‘Natyashastra,’ written in Sanskrit. The original text is still preserved in the temple libraries of Thanjavur, the home of Bharathanatyam. The dancer artistically tells stories and events from the epics through mudras (movements of the hand and feet) and facial expressions. The dancer should have a strong and flexible body, good expressive face and eyes and an in-born, natural sense of rhythm. The Kalakshetra at Tamil Nadu
is the main training centre for this dance.