The artistic form of Lord Shiva is Lord Nataraja.
There is an interesting story telling how Lord Nataraja has manifested.
He originated near the town of Chidambaram at the confluence of two rivers, Vellar and Cooleron. In this region, lot of Sages have kept penance because this area is a thick forest.
A group of sages were engaged in dark rituals like black magic because they believed that God can be controlled by magic wands, rituals and mantras. Thus, they have became harmful for mankind and were troubling everybody.
Lord Shiva wanted to put this to an end and he became a beggar known as Bikshadana.
The appearance of Bikshadana was awesome. He was beautiful and soothing to eyes despite being naked. Lord Vishnu taken the form of Mohini, a beautiful lady and followed him.
The impact of Bhikshadana
This beauty of Bikshadana also caused the wives of the sages to follow Bikshadana. This became a problem for these sages and they started to use their magical powers on Bikshadana to no avail. Because Lord Shiva was there and the supreme God cannot be controlled by these things.
The sages intensified their attack on Bikshadana and released dreadful serpents on the Lord. The wore them as ornaments. They also sent fierce tiger with magical powers.
Lord Shiva tore the skin of the beast with ease and used it as his loincloth. An elephant later came out of the sacrificial fires and charged the Lord but was ripped to death by Bikshadana.
Apasmara was sent to neutralize Bhikshadana
Then the sages became highly concerned of the developments and submitted all their powers and gave birth to a demon named Apasmara. He was a symbol of arrogance and ignorance. But Lord effortlessly stepped on the demon’s back and started dancing beautifully.
Tandava or ecstatic dance by Lord Nataraja
This dance is known as Tandava or the ecstatic dance of Lord Shiva. The realisation dawned on the sages. The divine vision removed their arrogance and made them understand that it was none else then Lord Shiva and they had been resorting to bad ways so far.
This miracle happened at the famous temple of Chidambaram. With the help of several rulers and dynasties, the temple was developed in a grand manner. The temple has been one of the most popularly visited places for the devotees of Lord Shiva and was also visited and sung by many Shivite saints. Lord Nataraja thus dances ecstatically in order to remove the ignorance and bondage of humans.