Information for Students
As a prospective student, you may have questions about various practical details of our dance classes. Some of them are answered on this page. If not, feel free to contact with your question.
• How to dress for class
• What to bring to class
• The class routine
• Class Etiquette
How to Dress for Dance Class
Young children and all those in the beginner’s stage may wear Indian styled clothing that’s suitable for stretching and dancing.
For young girls and boys, pyjamas and kurtas work well. Older girls may wear a salwar-kameez outfit. As you get used to the clothing and the dance forms, you can start wearing the traditional clothes used for dance practice.
Traditionally for Bharatanatyam practice, men wear a dhoti. Women wear a “half-sari”. The half-sari worn by women is always worn with a blouse accompanied by salwar pyjamas. You may wear it with tights, if you find them more comfortable, but they must be calve-length or full-length.
If you have long hair, it should be braided, tied in a bun, or otherwise secured so it doesn’t swing into your face.
Dance practice, and all performances,are always done barefoot.
What to Bring to Class
Bring a water bottle. There is water available at the locations where classes are held, but water breaks go smoother when more students have their own bottles. Note that the advice given by our gurus is not to drink during dance practice. So, drink water only when really necessary. You can drink after the dancing is finished.
If you’re concerned about sweating, bring a towel.
Students in intermediate or higher levels should bring a dance note book and pencil. When you learn a new item, you’ll need to take notes.
The Class Routine
Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the class is to start, and warm up. You’ll be taught the exercises and stretches for warming up before class and cooling down afterwards. However, you’re responsible for doing them on your own outside the class times. This leaves more time during the class for learning new things.
An exception to this rule is for beginners classes. For them, the warm ups are included in the class time.
The class begins with recitation of shlokas, or verses. These shlokas offer respects to Nataraja, the lord of dance, and the guru. The shlokas also ask blessings from all the eight cardinal directions, and from the Mother Earth, before dancing.
In some classes, the last 10 minutes of class is spent on theory. About once a month, about 20 minutes of the class is spent on a narrative. A sentence, or short story, is chosen, usually from Indian mythology. The students are shown how to narrate or enact the theme using the expressive language of Bharatanatyam. In advanced classes, about once a month, the students are given a 15-20 minute exercise in rhythmic choreography. They are encouraged to come up with their own combinations of adavus, or basic steps, to create a composition.
Classes end by offering gratitude to the Mother Earth for her blessings.
Part of the learning experience in the class is learning traditional Indian etiquette. There are customs of respect for the teacher like a namaste, for the implements of dance (like books, musical instruments, and ankle bells, to name a few), and for the art itself, that will be taught. You’ll learn how this attitude is expressed in day-to-day life, and can be picked up in class.