Introduction to Indian classical dance Bharata Natyam and Indian culture: theory and practice

Coordination: Leda Shantala
25 - 31 August

Duration: 30 hours
Timeline: 11.00 – 14.00 & 17.00 – 20.00
Language: English, Greek

Indian classical dance Bharata Natyam is an art with deep roots in the wisdom, poetry and colours of India. An enchanting dance which tells stories, poems and myths.  A holistic art, quieting and purifying the mind, like yoga.

For two thousand years –before it started appearing on theatre stages– it was danced in temples. Just as the ancient Greeks, ancient Indians believed that health and therapy are closely related with performing arts and with spirituality.

Bharata Natyam is an intricate theatrical dance that works on three different levels: hands, feet and the expressions of the face. It includes purely rhythmical pieces and narrative ones, with the help of hand gestures (called hastas or mudras) and facial expressions.


Seminar outline:

  1. Dance technique:
  • Adavus: The major step categories and their rhythms.
  • Tallas and shollus: Indian rhythms; counting and reciting the special percussion syllables.
  • Hastas /Mudras: The symbolic language of hand gestures.
  • Αbhinaya: The art of expression.
  • Yoga practice (asanas and meditation).

  1. The cultural background of this dance:
  • History of the art of Bharata Natyam.
  • Indian gods, myths and symbols.
  • Comparative study of ancient Indian and ancient Greek art and philosophy.

  1. Repertory:
  • Scenes from the work of Indian authors (ancient and contemporary).
  • A choreography –which will also be performed from the classical repertoire, dedicated to the elephant-headed lord Ganesha.


Read more about Bharata Natyam on Leda Shantala’s website.

cv lyda santala 2020Leda Shantala

A Sorbonne Graduate in French Literature. Choreographer, dancer, yoga teacher, teacher of Indian classical dance, Dance movement therapist. Founder of Shantom House of Culture.
After graduating in Paris, France ((Dipl. Licence Es Lettres Paris IΙΙ Sorbonne), where, among others, she studied yoga, modern dance, ethnology and humanistic psychology, Leda Shantala travelled to India following a powerful call. She stayed in Chennai. For 3 years she was trained in the art of classical Indian dance Bharata Natyam (dance, expression, music, rhythms, singing) graduating from the Indian Dance Academy «Bharata Kalanjali» and the «Abhinaya Sudha» in Chennai, where she still returns for the creation of performances and for artistic collaborations.
She studied yoga, theory and practice – deeply delving into the ancient texts of Indian philosophy- in the most distinguished schools of India. She is a graduate of the Kaivalya Dhama Υoga Research Institution, in Lonavla (Puna) and was a disciple of many contemporary yogis and sages.
She studied Dance Movement Therapy with Dr. Marcia Leventhal, (of New York University) as well as the African “Mombwiri” of the Mitsogo tribe in Gabon. She is possibly the only Western student who was accepted by the Pygmies to learn with them this primeval healing method.
After her return in Greece in 1985, Leda Shantala brought the Indian classical dance Bharata Natyam to the Greek public. In the same year, she founded her own institution, the Mandiram Centre, the only institution in Greece for Indian dance and artistic/anthropological research in the culture of ancient civilizations such as Greece, India and central Africa, while also offering regular lessons in yoga and, later on, dance movement therapy sessions.
In 1987 she founded the Leda Shantala Dance Theatre, through which she has been applying her multicultural research to dance-theatre performances.
In 2003, with her mother Smaro Stefanidou, she created the Shantom House of Culture, which she is still heading. A three-storey modern multi-purpose building in Kato Halandri, of multi-cultural scope, hosting regular courses in yoga, dance movement therapy, many kinds of dance, martial arts and fitness methods from all over the world, as well as alternative therapies seminars, and theatrical, dance and music performances.
She is the daughter of singer Vassos Seitanidis and actress Smaro Stefanidou.