Body Shape – does Bharatanatyam make you into a pear?!

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    This was a question I received recently in my email and I think this is an interesting enough topic for a number of dancers – so I am responding here.

    When I was in China, I was asked this repeatedly – โ€œTeacher, will dancing make me/my child tall, like you?โ€ (I am 5โ€™8โ€ – fairly well above average in that country). In China there is an ingrained perspective that the teacher role models all aspects of the art form – right down to her size and shape. It was literally and figuratively a burden too heavy to carry!

    So, does Bharatanatyam give you a pear shaped body or make you taller? No. Your nutrition and genetics define it more than anything. The South Indian vegetarian dancer tends to eat largely carbohydrate based meals. The foods you consume have a lot to do with any excess pounds you may be carrying. Where exactly on your body you carry it is a genetic attribute – your family defined it for you.

    My last word on it – if you are able to wrap your mind to accepting your body with all its imperfections, (more days than some!) you can move on to making it stronger and better able to work. Any thoughts or experiences you wish to share on this are welcome – always.


    I believe back in days most of us were taught to focus only on the actual dancing part when learning. There are ocean of skills in itself to gain good understanding of each of the Bharatnatyam aspect. So always dived into actual practice after basic warm up. If one is looking to be the perfect dancer, the approach you are introducing here is best. Requires to have conscious awareness of self and patience. It is going to give one life long physical and mental benefits (if able to be discipline enough) but speaking of body shape, it will bring one in better physical shape than the shape started with. That sounds rewarding ๐Ÿ™‚


    Thank you ๐Ÿ™. One of the pre-requisites of dancing in positions such as the Aramandi, Prenkanam, Swastikam and other non- primal patterns is ensuring your body supports it. I would hesitate, knowing what I know today about the body mechanics in Bharatanatyam to teach a student who has not been in regular practice and willing to even back track at times to unlearn some habits in technique. Purely because the biomechanics of dance can cause a lot of harm to a body that is not primed to take on the challenge. As you rightly say, gaining a desired body shape is an off shoot of that effort to get fitter to dance.

    – Savitha

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    • This reply was modified 4 years ago by admin.
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