Bharatanatyam Dress: Highlights, Types, Historical Significance 2023

Bharatanatyam Dress is an integral part of Indian classical dance, holds deep cultural significance. This attire is specifically designed to complement the graceful and expressive movements of Bharatanatyam, a traditional dance form originating from South India. Consisting of elements like the saree or lehenga choli, blouse or choli, jewelry, and intricate makeup, the Bharatanatyam Dress not only enhances the visual appeal of the dancer but also carries symbolic meanings rooted in the cultural heritage of Bharatanatyam. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various components, types, selection process, maintenance, and the cultural importance associated with the Bharatanatyam Dress, offering insights into the captivating world of this traditional dance costume.

The Bharatanatyam Dress is an ensemble that is essential in Bharatanatyam, one of India’s oldest and most revered classical dance styles. This traditional outfit is made up of numerous vital components that have been carefully selected to enhance the dancer’s motions and evoke the essence of the art form. The saree or lehenga choli is the foundation of the female Bharatanatyam costume. It is often composed of silk cloth with brilliant colours and ornate motifs that reflect South Indian culture’s traditional style. The blouse or choli worn with the saree is meticulously made to allow for easy movement and to highlight the dancer’s posture and grace.


OriginBharatanatyam Dress originated in Tamil Nadu, India.
Dance FormIt is a traditional costume for Bharatanatyam, a popular and ancient dance form in India.
Traditional AttireThe dress represents the traditional clothing worn by Bharatanatyam dancers during their performances.
SymbolismThe dress includes symbolic elements that represent Indian culture and mythology.
ComponentsIt consists of a pleated skirt, fitted blouse, draped dupatta (scarf), and traditional jewelry.
Rich EmbellishmentsThe dress is adorned with intricate embroidery, sequins, and decorative patterns.
Vibrant ColorsBharatanatyam dresses often have bright colors like red, green, blue, and gold.
Movement-Friendly DesignThe dress allows dancers to move freely and perform intricate footwork and gestures.

Essential Components of Bharatanatyam Dress

Saree or Lehenga Choli: A fundamental element of the Bharatanatyam Dress, the saree or lehenga choli is worn by female performers. Made from silk fabric, these garments exhibit vibrant colors and intricate designs, reflecting the cultural aesthetics of South India. The saree is elegantly draped, while the lehenga choli consists of a skirt and blouse ensemble. These garments accentuate the dancer’s movements, exuding grace and charm.

Blouse or Choli: The blouse or choli is an essential part of the Bharatanatyam Dress, complementing the saree or lehenga. This fitted upper garment enhances the dancer’s posture and provides support during intricate movements. Tailored with precision, the blouse or choli often showcases exquisite embroidery or embellishments, adding a touch of elegance and highlighting the upper body.

Jewelry and Accessories: Jewelry and accessories are integral in completing the Bharatanatyam Dress, infusing it with cultural significance. Temple jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, bangles, and anklets, adorns the performer. Crafted from gold or silver, these pieces exhibit intricate designs inspired by temple architecture and are often embellished with precious stones. Additional accessories like waist belts, armlets, and hair ornaments such as flowers, clips, and hairpins enhance the overall appearance.

Hair and Makeup: The hair and makeup of a Bharatanatyam dancer contribute to the overall aesthetic appeal. Elaborate hairstyles incorporating braids, buns, and adorned with flowers or decorative accessories are meticulously crafted. Makeup emphasizes facial expressions, with a particular focus on the eyes using kohl, eye shadows, and eyeliner. The use of vibrant colors further enhances the dancer’s stage presence and expressions.

Types of Bharatanatyam Dress

Traditional Attire for Female Performers in Bharatanatyam

The attire worn by female performers in Bharatanatyam encompasses the traditional style that has been cherished for generations. It includes sarees or lehenga cholis, intricately adorned with vibrant colors, traditional motifs, and exquisite designs. This classic attire reflects the cultural heritage and aesthetic essence of Bharatanatyam, showcasing the grace and elegance of the dancers.

Contemporary and Innovative Designs in Bharatanatyam Dress:

In recent years, there has been a surge in contemporary and innovative designs in Bharatanatyam Dress. These designs explore new fabrics, color palettes, patterns, and embellishments while still honoring the core principles of the traditional attire. They provide dancers with the opportunity to express their creativity and individuality while maintaining reverence for the art form.

Regional Variations in Bharatanatyam Dress:

Bharatanatyam Dress exhibits intriguing regional variations, highlighting the diverse cultural tapestry of South India. Different regions have their distinct styles, characterized by variations in saree draping, fabric choices, design motifs, and preferences for jewelry. These regional nuances add depth and richness to the art form, celebrating the unique cultural identities of specific areas.

Selecting and Purchasing Bharatanatyam Dress:

When selecting and purchasing a Bharatanatyam Dress, it is essential to consider factors such as quality, authenticity, and suitability for the dancer’s physique. Traditional Bharatanatyam Dresses can be found in specialized dance stores, boutiques, or online platforms that cater to Indian classical dance costumes. Seeking guidance from experienced dancers, teachers, or costume experts ensures the authenticity and appropriateness of the attire.

bharatanatyam dress

Selection and Purchase of Bharatanatyam Dress

Fabric and Color Selection:

When choosing your Bharatanatyam Dress, pay close attention to the fabric and colour. Choose textiles that are easy to move in and comfortable to wear throughout performances. Consider the dance form’s special requirements, such as the necessity for flexibility and draping. Choose colours that match your skin and enhance your stage presence while also expressing Bharatanatyam’s traditional aesthetics.

Sizing and Tailoring Considerations:

Consider sizing and tailoring elements to get a proper fit for your Bharatanatyam Dress. To discover the proper size, take accurate measures of your body, paying attention to the length of the saree or lehenga choli, the fit of the blouse or choli, and the overall proportions of the dress.

Where to Purchase Bharatanatyam Dress:

Look into many options for purchasing your Bharatanatyam dress. Traditional dance businesses, specialist boutiques, and internet platforms devoted to Indian classical dance outfits provide a diverse selection. To locate original and high-quality Bharatanatyam Dresses, visit local dance supply stores or reliable online sellers. Seek advice from experienced dancers, teachers, or fellow performers who can point you in the right direction.

bharatanatyam dress

Maintenance and Care of Bharatanatyam Dress

Preserve and Protect: Safeguard the exquisite beauty of your Bharatanatyam Dress by adopting proper storage practices. Create a dedicated space for your dress, whether it be a closet, wardrobe, or garment bag, and ensure it is shielded from dust and moisture. Utilize padded hangers or garment covers to maintain its shape and prevent any unwelcome creases or wrinkles. By preserving its pristine condition, your dress will always be ready to dazzle on stage.

Delicate Cleansing Rituals: Nurture your Bharatanatyam Dress with gentle cleaning techniques tailored to its unique fabric and embellishments. For intricate or heavily adorned dresses, entrust their care to professional dry cleaners that specialize in delicate garments. Alternatively, for lighter fabrics, follow manufacturer guidelines for handwashing or machine washing on a gentle cycle using mild detergents. Adopting these careful cleaning rituals will ensure your dress remains vibrant and enchanting.

Meticulous Repairs and Alterations: Pay meticulous attention to the maintenance of your Bharatanatyam Dress by promptly addressing any damages or necessary alterations. Should you notice loose threads, missing embellishments, or minor tears, seek the assistance of skilled tailors or costume experts to restore its original splendor. Likewise, if your body undergoes changes, consult experienced professionals to expertly alter the dress, ensuring a comfortable and flattering fit for your captivating performances.

Cultural and Historical Significance of Bharatanatyam Dress

Tracing the Evolving Tapestry of Bharatanatyam Dress:

Embark on a captivating journey through time as we unravel the intricate story behind the Bharatanatyam Dress. Witness how this enchanting costume has gracefully evolved, mirroring the ebb and flow of artistic sensibilities across centuries. From its ancient origins within temple rituals to its resplendent presence on contemporary stages, the Bharatanatyam Dress stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Indian classical dance.

Embodied Symbolism and Reverence:

Delve into the profound symbolism and deep-rooted traditional values enshrined within the folds of the Bharatanatyam Dress. Each element, meticulously chosen from the fabric to the intricate embellishments, carries a wealth of meaning and embodies cultural narratives. Embrace the garment’s transformative power, embodying purity, devotion, and a sacred connection to divinity. Immerse yourself in the layers of symbolism, discovering a profound resonance with the rich tapestry of Indian heritage.

Bharatanatyam Dress Accessories and Adornments

Temple Jewelry: Divine Ornaments that Dazzle:

Embark on a celestial journey as we explore the resplendent world of temple jewelry, an integral part of Bharatanatyam attire. Adorn yourself with the exquisite craftsmanship and intricate detailing of these divine ornaments, designed to evoke a sense of awe and reverence. From the majestic necklaces cascading down the dancer’s neck to the tinkling anklets that create mesmerizing rhythms, each piece adds a touch of celestial grace to the performance.

Traditional Makeup: Artistry on the Canvas of Expression:

Delve into the ancient art of traditional makeup techniques, where every stroke becomes a brushstroke of emotion. Witness the skilled hands of the dancer as they meticulously apply vibrant hues, accentuating the eyes that speak volumes and the lips that curve with grace. With each carefully placed bindi and intricately drawn facial design, the makeup becomes an integral part of the dancer’s persona, unveiling a world of storytelling through visual expressions.

The Essence of Accessorizing: Elevating the Dance Form:

Discover the profound significance of accessorizing in the realm of Bharatanatyam costume, where every adornment adds depth and meaning to the performance. Explore how each jewelry piece and embellishment becomes a language of its own, communicating the essence of the character being portrayed. From the radiant waist belt that signifies elegance and poise to the delicate hair accessories that capture the essence of femininity, the art of accessorizing breathes life into the dance, enriching the narrative and captivating the audience.

Bharatanatyam Dress for Men

Dhoti and Angavastram: Draping the Threads of Tradition:

Embark on a journey of timeless elegance as we explore the resplendent attire of Bharatanatyam for men. Wrap yourself in the regal embrace of the dhoti, a graceful garment that exudes poise and masculinity. Complementing this majestic ensemble is the angavastram, a stole that gracefully drapes over the shoulders, adding a touch of grandeur and finesse to your performance. Together, these garments weave a tapestry of tradition, captivating the audience with their ethereal charm.

Shirt or Vest: Elevating the Masculine Aura:

Infuse your Bharatanatyam costume with a touch of refinement and sophistication by incorporating a shirt or vest. These garments, meticulously tailored to enhance your physique, offer a perfect balance of tradition and contemporary style. Whether you opt for a traditional full-sleeved shirt or embrace a modern vest design, each choice adds a layer of elegance, accentuating your presence on the stage.

Headgear and Accessories: Embodying Grace and Majesty:

Complete your Bharatanatyam ensemble with the crowning glory of headgear and accessories, symbolizing the embodiment of grace and majesty. Adorn your head with a mukut or turban, intricately embellished with ornate details that reflect your artistic prowess. Complement this regal headpiece with accessories like earrings and necklaces, each piece adding a touch of finesse and allure to your overall appearance. Together, they create a captivating visual narrative that mesmerizes the audience.

Dressing for Bharatanatyam Performances and Practice Sessions

Unveiling the Grace: Saree or Lehenga Choli Draping Techniques:

Embark on a journey of grace and allure as we unravel the secrets of dressing for Bharatanatyam performances. Unleash the art of draping a saree or adorning a lehenga choli, mastering the intricate pleats, folds, and contours that accentuate your every movement. Dive into the world of seamless draping, ensuring a flawless and secure ensemble that effortlessly complements your dance form and captivates the audience with its ethereal charm.

Enchanting Radiance: Hair and Makeup Tips for Bharatanatyam Performances:

Unlock the door to mesmerizing hair and makeup for Bharatanatyam performances, where each strand and stroke amplifies your stage presence. Explore traditional hairstyles that exude elegance and adornments that add an enchanting touch to your appearance. Discover the transformative power of Bharatanatyam makeup, blending colors and contouring techniques to highlight your facial expressions, ensuring that every movement becomes a captivating story in itself.

Disciplined Devotion: Dress Code for Bharatanatyam Practice Sessions:

Embrace the essence of discipline and devotion in your practice sessions, where the dress code sets the stage for focused training. Embody the spirit of Bharatanatyam through appropriate attire that allows freedom of movement without compromising tradition. Choose comfortable practice wear, be it a modest salwar kameez or a dedicated practice saree, enabling you to immerse yourself fully in the rigorous training sessions and hone your technique with unwavering dedication.

Bharatanatyam Dress and Cultural Identity

Revering Ancestral Threads: The Integral Role of Bharatanatyam Dress in Cultural Preservation and Propagation:

Embark on a journey where Bharatanatyam dress stands as a testament to the preservation and propagation of cultural identity. Explore the profound significance of every meticulously woven thread and ornate embellishment, as they embody the rich heritage and traditions of Bharatanatyam. Witness how the dress becomes a conduit for the expression of cultural pride, fostering a deep sense of connection to one’s roots and ancestral legacy.

Unveiling the Artistry: Bharatanatyam Dress as a Reflection of Tradition and Artistic Splendor:

Uncover the awe-inspiring fusion of tradition and artistic brilliance embodied in Bharatanatyam dress. Behold the meticulous craftsmanship and intricate details that transform the attire into a living work of art. Experience how each swish of a pleat and sparkling adornment harmoniously blend to narrate stories of ancient tales and showcase the embodiment of grace and beauty. Delve into the nuances of color, texture, and design that carry the essence of Bharatanatyam’s timeless traditions.

Bharatanatyam Dress FAQs

Q: What constitutes a Bharatanatyam dress?

A: Bharatanatyam dress encompasses the traditional attire donned by performers of the esteemed Indian classical dance form. It encompasses various elements, including a saree or lehenga choli for female artists and a dhoti and angavastram paired with a shirt or vest for male performers.

Q: What is the cultural significance of the Bharatanatyam dress?

A: The Bharatanatyam dress holds profound cultural significance as it serves as a visual representation of the dance form’s rich heritage. It encapsulates centuries of tradition, artistry, and symbolic elements that embody the essence of Bharatanatyam. Through its intricate designs, colors, and adornments, the dress showcases the cultural identity and artistic expression of the dance.

Q: How can I select the perfect Bharatanatyam dress?

A: When choosing a Bharatanatyam dress, consider factors such as the fabric’s quality, the color’s suitability, and the design’s authenticity. Opt for fabrics that allow ease of movement and ensure comfort during performances. Harmonize the color palette with your skin tone and adhere to the traditional aesthetics of Bharatanatyam. Additionally, ensure that the dress is tailored impeccably to your measurements, ensuring a flawless fit.

Q: Where can I purchase an authentic Bharatanatyam dress?

A: Authentic Bharatanatyam dresses can be acquired from specialized dancewear stores, reputable online retailers, or select boutique establishments catering to Indian classical dance costumes. It is advisable to seek reliable sources that offer genuine and high-quality Bharatanatyam dresses to ensure the authenticity and durability of your purchase.

Q: How should I care for my Bharatanatyam dress?

A: Proper care and maintenance are vital to preserve the beauty and longevity of your Bharatanatyam dress. Follow specific care instructions provided by the manufacturer or consult with a professional. Ensure appropriate storage in a clean and dry environment, shielded from direct sunlight. Address any stains promptly and handle the dress delicately during cleaning or dry cleaning. Regularly inspect the dress for any repairs or alterations that may be required.

Q: Can I personalize my Bharatanatyam dress?

A: While respecting the traditional elements of Bharatanatyam, there may be room for personalization in your dress. Consult with knowledgeable dance costume experts or designers to explore options for fabric variations, color combinations, or embellishments that resonate with your individual preferences. Striking the balance between personalization and upholding the authenticity of Bharatanatyam is key to creating a unique and captivating ensemble.

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