These rules were developed especially for students going to India for further dance classes, however, considering them in any dance class is definitely a good idea!

Bharata Natyam dance classes in general

  • Be on time for class.
  • Wear proper clothes for class, nothing baggy. Hair out of the face!
  • Every class should be started and ended with namaskaram, even if coming late or leaving earlier.
  • In dance class never cross the line between teacher and student.
  • No hanging around, please! Keep your posture, even when your are not dancing.
  • If corrected in class, do not object (‚but xy told me’, ‚but you do it differently…’) or have an excuse (‚you can’t imagine, how tired I am!’, ‘Today, I just couldn’t find a parking…’). Best, do not speak at all during class, except for questions. You can always ask questions!
  • On the floor, sit cross-legged, or with the legs bent to the side, but never sit with stetched legs, especially, if the legs are extended towards a person, an altar or a stage. If sitting during class, do not lean on the wall.
  • If possible, try to take a shower before class, do not enter with a sweaty odour!

Dance classes in Chennai, India

  • At arrival in Chennai, do a namaskaram to the (elderly) teachers (right hand, or both hands, touching the feet of the teacher and then touching your eyes).
  • Try to ask the first day, how much the classes will cost, as well as residence and food, and when the amount should be payed. Please stick to that date!
  • At class wear dance dress, with the hair properly combed. A Salwar Kameez is only ok, if your suitcase is not yet unpacked, but in that case the dupatta (or shawl) should be draped around your waist, so that the teacher can follow your movements properly. Do not wear baggy Salwars without dupattas. Girls and women should always wear a bindi in class!
  • Drinking water (and nothing else) is allowed during class, but one should always ask, before leaving the place to drink, if that is ok. Always put the water bottles out of the way.
  • At arrival ask where to take off the shoes. Of course, no dance hall is to be entered with shoes. Shoes should be touched only with the left hand.
  • Male teachers and elders are addressed with ‘Sir’, female teachers and elders with ‘Madam’ or more informally ‘Auntie’
  • Talams, Tattukaris, Tattumalais, books, persons, depictions of deities or teachers are NEVER EVER touched with the feet on purpose. If it ever happens accidentally, (especially with Talams and Tattumalais it just does happen!) do a namaskaram (right hand touching the object or person, and then your eyes). If you accidentally happen to touch the teacher with your foot, do a namaskaram to the teacher.
  • When lighting an incense stick or a candle, don’t blow it out, just use your hand for that.
  • Opaque cotton clothes are proper, don’t go sleaveless, skirts and trousers should go at least to middle of your calves. Do not wear tight clothes or low-cut dresses. Neither for dance class, nor anywhere else, it is proper to leave out the pyjamas of a Salwar (the ‘trousers’). Ladies, always wear a bra in class and on the street!
  • Do not touch food with the left hand, and also for giving and taking always use your right hand. Best start practising at home, before departure!
  • If you smoke, remember that it is forbidden to smoke in front of a teacher. Women, should avoid smoking on the street, if possible.

Personal hygiene

  • It is very important to take a shower before and after class. However, remember, the constant water shortage in Chennai, so try to make the shower as short as possible, especially, because it is necessary to take several showers a day! The hair should also be washed as often as possible.
  • Proper appearance is important in India. Unpleasant odours are absolutely tabu!!! Do use soap and deodorants plentyfully.
  • Clothes should always be fresh, bring along enough sari bluses, pyjamas etc. so that you won’t have to put on something soaked with sweat. Laundry dries up quickly in the heat!
  • For concerts and dance performances wear proper clothes, untidy clothes are not appreciated.
  • If you are staying at school, it is not appreciated, if students eat outside too often. Leaving and returning to school should always be reported.
Asmita Banerjee dancing