Bharatanatyam is a classical dance style that origninated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It is said to be the cosmic dance of the Lord Shiva, a Hindu God. Over the years it has served different purposes to Indian society, and currently is looked upon as a tradition for the younger generation to keep alive. Young girls and boys can start as early as 3 years old and complete all the lessons by age 7. There is usually no age limit, but rarely will a person start in their adulthood.
The very first lesson for any Bhartanatyam dancer starts with the Namaskaram. This is related to the Hindu philosophy of respect to Mother Earth and all elements of nature. The Namaskaram is a humble greeting to God, the teacher, audience, and then Mother Earth.
After the dancer has paid their respects, they are ready to begin. The body of a dancer is basically divided into two main parts: above and below the waist. Above the waist is mostly responsible for expression, and below is responsible for stances and keeping the beat. The second lesson is about learning how to move the body for keeping beats with the music. This involves a starting position that is similar to a plie in ballet. In Bharatanatyam it is called Aramandi or Ardhamandala.