Bharatanatyam has evolved over time and developed its current style approximately 250 years ago. Performed as part of the daily worship ritual, traditionally by women and within temple precincts, a Bharatanatyam dancer dresses similarly as to that of a traditional Hindu bride. Often, she will wear a custom-made sari, a dress made of cotton or silk that is decoratively draped around the body that hangs allowing her to extend her legs and torso freely, along with traditional jewellery that includes precious metals and gems, necklaces, earrings, bead necklaces and metallic bangles. She may also wear traditional jewels that adorn her body, such as her head, nose and ears. Dancers will also generally wear a pair of leg bells known as ghungroos, which are designed to create rhythmic sounds that go hand in hand with the dance. Eyes are an important part of Indian culture, represent a gateway into the soul, and as such a Bharatanatyam dancer will highlight her eyes during her performance using makeup. Using eye whitener, black eye liner and golden eye shadow, the dancer may draw attention to her eyes to better feature her facial expressions to the audience. A Bharatanatyam dancer’s hair will be neatly tied up either in a bun or plait, often adorned with colourful silk flowers and beads. She will wear a belt around her waist, above her sari, picked to match her anklets or ghunghru – leather straps with small bells attached to them – to better highlighter her dance movements. Finally, in addition to clothing, jewellery and makeup, a Bharatanatyam dancer will have henna – beautiful patterns painted on the skin – added to her hands and feet to emphasise her finger and feet movements more visibly.
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