In the past we have uploaded many dance items from various shows on our website, face book page as well as the you tube channel, Jatiswaram being one of them. Today I thought of writing about the concept, the rules it follows and its structure, though most dancers would already be familiar about it. Jatiswaram is an example of a pure dance or nritta sequence in which the performer weaves several patterns on a basic musical composition. Just like its name, it is executed to the tune of a combination of swara passages in a particular raga and tala. It is so named on account of the fact that it is consists of jatis set to the swaras. Unlike alaripu, where the dance is performed to mnemonic syllables, in jatiswaram another element of melody is introduced. It is distinguished from other musical compositions like gita, sabdam or varnam by having no lines of poetry.

The jatiswaram follows the rules of the swarajati in musical structure and has three parts – pallavi, anupallavi and charanam. In the pallavi, to the repetition of the sung melody, the dancer weaves different rhythmic patterns from the primary adavus. The dance choreography relates to the melodic line, sometimes through a note to note synchronisation, at other times, through syncopation. It may be set to any of the jaatis of the tala, i.e., to beats of 3, 4, 5, 7, or 9.

In the second half or anupallavi, the dance cadences are also set to the full line of the note (swara) and combination of different swaras. It is noticed here that while composing for each of these melodies, the dancer has to bear in mind that the dance patterns are governed by the musical patterns.

The cross rhythms and non- synchronised patterns of the dance when the dancer deliberately does not execute a note to note synchronisation, is equally governed by the musical melody and the metrical cycle (talam).

Hence, it is observed, that in the first portion, there is general synchronisation of the dancers movements and the swaras of the song. In the second portion, there is a note to note synchronisation of the movements with the swaras. The jatiswaram then becomes a dance where the dancer presents as much of pure dance as she can with a wide range of improvisation both in terms of the adavu sequences as well as rhythmic patterns.