Bharatanatyam is the most widely known and exalted of the classical Indian dances.  Although it has been traditionally associated with Tamil Nadu, it now has a strong presence throughout India.  Even outside of India, the majority of schools that teach Indian dance, teach this style.

The genre of bharatanatyam  was developed by amalgamating a number of elements from the earlier forms of Dassi Attam and Sadr.  Dassi Attam was a dance form of the Deva Dassis (temple dancing girls) while Sadr was a form found in the palaces of southern India.  A number of people contributed to the development of bharatanatyam, but the most notable was E. Krishna Iyer of Madras.

There are a number of musicians and instrumentalist who provide the musical accompaniment. Typically there is one or more vocalist, a person reciting the dance syllables, and a mridangam. Additionally, one usually finds violin, vina (saraswati vina), or venu (bamboo flute). There is also a thallam (manjira) which is usually played by the person reciting the dance syllables. The overall style of the Bharat Natyam musical accompaniment is not unlike other Carnatic performances.