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The curriculum is divided into essentially four functional groups.
Students can request to join a group after evaluating their prior training. However acceptance into a group is decided by the Guru, after an audition, taking into account the level of other students in the group as well.

1. Beginners
2. Foundation
3. Advanced
4. Post Arangetram


Beginners typically start at any age. The early stages of training involve learning the basic steps, called ‘adavus’, and movements of the dance. The exercises condition the body for the unique postures of Bharatanatyam. They also develop the student’s sense of rhythm.
Students also learn eye movements, which are done in synchronization with body movements in the dance.
At this stage, students also learn the names of hand gestures called ‘hastas’, which are an important feature of Bharatanatyam. They comprise the descriptive language of the dance.


At this intermediate stage, students learn more advanced steps and complicated patterns of movement. They also learn the names of facial expressions, which are a distinctive feature of Bharatanatyam.
The students begin learning some basic dance compositions. The choreography is simple, and there isn’t much expressive content. Examples of these items are the ‘alarippu; and ‘jatiswaram’. Students also learn about the history of Bharatanatyam, the musical instruments used, and other related topics.


These students learn the remaining dance compositions that make up the repertoire of a full Bharatanatyam recital. Although they may only learn a single instance of some types of items, the repertoire covers all the features of the dance. It includes rhythmic dance, emotional expression, and variety. The items they practice include the shabdam, varnam, swarajathi, padam, kirtanam, ashtapadi, javali, tillana, and shlokam.

The Arangetram

This marks the beginning of the dancer’s career as a performer, and is a milestone in her career. Unfortunately this event is often misunderstood as the graduation event that ends the training of the dancer. The word ‘arangetram’ translates as climbing onto (etram) the stage (arangam).
The ‘arangetram’ is marked by a recital of the new dancer, attended by the teacher, mentors, and family elders, where she receives their blessings for a fruitful dance career.

Post Arangetram

(Best learned through a full time residential program).

After the ‘arangetram’, the dancer can develop further as a performer learning more compositions, and expanding her repertoire.
By this point, the dancer is charting his or her own course as an artiste. It is still important to continue to grow; all avenues for expression being now open to the dancer – performing, composing, teaching, and perhaps even broadening the scope of the dance.

Learning Dance Theory

Serious students of dance will need to learn extensive dance theory as well. In Kalakshetra for example, in addition to many hours of dance practice, students have daily classes in dance theory. Bharatanatyam is a highly structured and codified art form, derived from the Natya Shastra, an ancient scripture that describes all the aspects of the art. Samyukta’s students will cover all aspects of Bharatanatyam theory, thus turning out to be a well rounded dancer.

Some dance theory books are listed in our suggested reading section.