It is poetry in motion- a solo dance, originating in the temples of south India. It is based in the principles of Natya Shatra, written by the great sage, Bharata, around 4000 BC. It is highly traditional dance form performed to a repertory of carnatic music and comprises items such as the alarippu, varnam, padam, thillana, and so on.
Earlier, variedly known as Dasi Attam and Sadir, it was practiced by devadasis in the south Indian temples. Its present form was eveloved in Tanjore by Pilllai and brothers. Smt. Rukmani Devi gave it a new life and respectability. On par with her was T. Bala Saraswati, the queen of Bharatanatyam.