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Bharatanatyam highlights the beauty of strong lines leading out from the dancer's body and is embellished with intricately expressive hand gestures and elaborate storytelling through facial expressions. Kathak is characterised by fluid body movements, complex patterns of footwork, fast turns and sudden stillness. A precise interaction with classical Indian music from South and North India respectively characterises both these dance genres.

History of Classical Indian Dance

Bharatanatyam dances evolved over centuries in the temples and royal courts of Southern India. Kathak originated as a storytelling art form in northern India. It developed in Hindu temples and later in Mughal courts. Following a research project and proposal from leading dance organisation Akademi, a new Society Faculty was created in 1999 to examine both Bharatanatyam and Kathak. Examining started in 2001 in various regions of the UK, with expansion into Europe, Canada and the US, along with enquiries being received from other parts of the world, including Australasia, India and Pakistan.

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Bharatanatyam and Kathak Examinations

All Bharatanatyam and Kathak Grade examinations in Dance and Vocational Graded Examinations in Dance have revised syllabus specifications which came into effect on 1 May 2019. In order to ensure the revised marking for all these examinations is clear and detailed on report sheets, we have created revised versions of each of these qualifications in Quest. Teachers should select the revised version when applying for sessions and entering candidates on timetables from now on. Every examination will appear as ‘Revised’, for example, ‘Grade 1 Revised’, which should be selected. The previous versions will appear as ‘Withdrawn’. If assistance is needed, please contact us.

Performances and Awards

We occasionally provide workshops and CPD courses for teachers, as well as performance opportunities for students - these aim to provide an opportunity to network and dance together, publicise the syllabi, plus the chance to study Karnatic or Hindustani music and the cultural background and theory underlying the dance.

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Bharatanatyam and Kathak Syllabus

The Bharatanatyam and Kathak syllabi have been evolved over several years of research, and represent the corporate view of distinguished dance gurus throughout the UK and abroad. They aim to preserve and develop the rich traditions of the dance while adapting to the many different cultures and contexts in which they are now practiced. Full detail of what should be taught for each Grade is set out in the Examination Specifications, available from our shop. These set out, in separate publications for Bharatanatyam and Kathak, the required skills, the movement vocabulary and the repertoire for each Grade, together with health and Body Conditioning requirements and recommendations, the procedure for entering the examinations, lists of resources and an extensive glossary of terms.

Download syllabus outlines here


Classical Indian Dance Faculty Committee

Our Faculty Committees are the vital link between the members of the Society and the staff and trustees, and provide a two-way channel for communication and consultation with the wider membership body.

Meet the team