Analyzing development of the varnam, we can see that varnam amalgamates the features of such different forms as Daru, Ragamalika, Keertana, Padam, and Shabdam. In dance, Varnam can be regarded as the format of presentation. Balanced combination of rhythmical, musical and lyrical aspects in Varnam gives scope for presenting dance in all its richness and power.
Presently, varnam setting is often used as a format for development of new compositions. For instance, Rukmini Devi choreographed Ashtapadi of Jayadeva in form of Varnam, set to Todi raga.
The interesting fact is, that Kritis of Tyagaraja and Syama Sastri were not widely accepted in dance comparing to the other forms of music introduced during the time of the Trinity such as Padas, Javalis and Keertanas. In music kutcheri Kriti takes important place. Very often Kriti is selected s the central piece. In dance, Kriti is performed in the format very similar to Keertana. At the other side, regarding musical aspect, Kriti provides much wider scope for Abhinaya then Keertana. In Kriti, expression of Raga Bhava reaches the utmost possible high. Sahityam of Kritis is often focused on abstract ideas, whereas dance needs some concrete symbols or metaphors, which could be visualized on the stage. Besides that, the favorite theme of Abhinaya in dance is Vipralambha Sringara, which contains some conflict and provides wide range of situations which could be performed in order to portray different shades of Nayaka-Nayika bhava. Ambivalent emotions and inner conflict or even contradictory situation makes the story interesting and vivid.
However, presently the venue of dance is neither the temple nor the court. The venue of modern dance is the world itself. Modern reality brings forward new questions. The themes of contemporary productions include environmental issues, protection of animals, prevention of cruelty to children, depiction of real historical events, problems of education, and so forth. The themes of dance go far beyond Vipralambha Sringara. In this context, format of dance presentation imposes more and more requirements on modern choreographers and performers.
I do believe, that careful study of evolution of such versatile dance forms as Pada Varnam gives knowledge and understanding which choreographer and performer needs to create new forms of dance presentation reflecting the present day issues.