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An Introduction to Bharatanatyam Therapy

The ancient storytelling art of Bharatanatyam, which originated in the temples of Southern India, aren’t just a way for Indians to learn and pass on their culture. It’s a way for everyone to destress, a power that Calm with Kalaa aims to share with everyone.


So how does Bharatanatyam therapy work?


The practice of Bharatanatyam, which is a form of exercise, yoga, and art, causes the release of dopamine, known as the “happiness” hormone, and serotonin, the “mood” hormone. This gives a dancer an immediate sense of joy and calm. Dopamine is released whenever we are doing something that makes us happy or energized (a rewarding experience), so even watching and enjoying the performance releases those hormones, positively affecting the viewer and dancer. Pretty powerful!

Dance therapy focused on the idea that the body and the mind are deeply interconnected. “Indian dances can be particularly therapeutic due to the fact that they embrace Indian philosophy, which itself encourages mental health along with body health.” By focusing one’s attention on dance and self care, it allows an individual to forget their other problems. Bharatanatyam has an inherent unique expression of emotions to it, allowing a dancer to psychologically experience the emotion and transform into another character, which pushes out their emotions. It may only seem to be an outward show, but it is also an inner transformative experience. It challenges the dancer to express these emotions through the face, body language, hand gestures, and rhythm, which is kept through rapid or gentle movements of the feet.

Indian culture deeply expresses connectivity, from its mythological stories to its festivals, everything is one and works together. That philosophy is embedded in Bharatanatyam, and its use in mental health therapy, an idea that Calm with Kalaa embodies.


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An initiative founded to alleviate mental health and garner an environment of cultural understanding among diverse student populations.

Email: calmwithkalaa@gmail.com 

Phone: 608-237-1966

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© 2020 by the Calm with Kalaa Initiative. | All Rights Reserved  | Dancer in photos: Shruti Parthasarathy, Photos taken by: Sarah Monson