The term Margi refers to the ancient dance- and performing arts tradition, which has been described in Natyashastra. It is the base for all artforms of India, including the seven classical danceforms, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohiniattam and Manipuri. Over the centuries, the regional influences on the Margi technique formed these seven danceforms referred to as Desi.
The text of the Natyashastra is the earliest extant text on artforms including Linguistic, Literary, Paintings, Sculptures, Architecture, Dance and Drama, Costumes and Ornaments, mythological and legendary Figures, geographical Details and erotical, psychological and economical Sciences.Therefore, the Natyashastra is also called as 'Encyclopedia of Arts'.
One major element of the Natyashastra is Karana. These are units of dance, comparable to Adavus of Desi forms. 108 of these Karanas are described in Natyashastra, referring to Lord Shiva performing them on Kailasa.Karanas consist of three main elements, which are Sthana (position of the body), Nrttahasta (movements of arms) and Caari (movements of legs). Only by mastering these sub-elements, one can learn the Karanas, which are truly a challenge for every dancer.
The Margi tradition has been out of vogue for centuries. Only in the last few decades, they could get reconstructed by the help of temple sculptures found in certain temples and the Shlokas of Natyashastra. Dr. Padma Subrahmanya, who dedicated her life to this significant research, was able to revive this ancient Margi technique.