Here is a book on adavus and karanas that I came across. Have a look…
“Dance units in Bharata Natyam
NATANA ADAIVUGAL (Tamil): Natyacharya S. Balachandra Raju; Sivaranjani Publications, 16, Sakthinagar 2nd Street, Choolaimedu, Chennai-600094. Rs. 210.
THE ADAVU (or Adaivu as the author prefers to spell it) is a dance unit called Karana in Sanskrit and is made up of a specific pose, a foot movement and a Nritta Hasta. A combination of Adavus is known as an Adavu Jati. According to experts, there are 10 different groups of Adavus, each having 12 different modes, making in all 120 basic dance arrangements. Dancers, however, generally learn about 40 to 72 Adavus.
Reference to Adavus can be found in Chola inscriptions ascribed to the 12th century and in inscriptions in some Siva temples. This basic unit is adopted in some other art forms like Kalaripayattu, Kathakali and Mohini Attam. Although in other forms also some poses and hand movements are combined, it is only in Bharata Natyam that they are combined to such a perfection as to produce an immense variety of dance patterns with hands synchronising with poses and footwork, embellished by graceful neck and eye movements.
Present day writers on dance try to make a distinction between Adavu and Adaivu. The Tamil term “Adaivu” has no less than 14 meanings while Adavu is used only in dance. The Sangita Muktavali says that Karanas are known as Adu-s (also Adugu and Aduvu) in Telugu.
In the dance section of the Sangita Saramruta of Tulaja (1729- 1735 A.D.), ruler of Thanjavur, a number of Adavus have been described and the Sanskrit equivalent of the term has been shown as Kuttanam which means the striking of the ground with the foot. Most of the Adavus now presented by Bharata Natyam dancers are those enumerated in Tulaja’s treatise.
Natyacharya Balachandra Raju is a prolific writer on Carnatic music and Bharata Natyam with more than 50 publications in English and Tamil to his credit. He is also the director of the Nritya Sangita Niketan in Chennai which teaches music and dance on scientific lines aided by his theory books and model dance compositions.
The book under notice is the most comprehensive account of Adavus published so far and is an enlarged version of the first edition published in 1993. The author has an enviable command over Tamil prose and writes with great clarity and vigour. The general introduction highlights the unique greatness of Bharata Natyam when compared to other styles and the vital role played in it by Adavus. Before taking up a discussion on the Adavus, the author deals with Talas which play an indispensable role in dance. The Suladi Sapta Talas namely Dhruva, Mathya, Rupaka, Jhampa, Triputa, Ata and Eka, are described and the matras of the five Gatis in each of them furnished.
He then takes up the main subject Adavus and discusses at great length Tattadaivu, Nattadaivu, Kattadaivu, Alankara Kattadaivu, Pakkadaivu, Ettadaivu, Simradaivu and others. Photographs (220 in all mostly in colour and not sketches) of Adavus and the 108 Karanas in addition will be found highly useful by teachers and students of dance. For the first time in dance literature, the scientific names of the muscles of the body that are toned up and strengthened by the various Adavus have been furnished. The author has made every effort to make the book useful to dancers by adding chapters on Abhinaya, the 108 Karanas, make-up and costuming.
The book is thus a thesaurus on Adavus and is a bargain for its low price.
Source: An article in 2001 Hindu by Sri.T. S. PARTHASARATHY