Blogger Template by Blogcrowds

Bharatanatyam reminisces the classical compilation of Bharata Muni, the Natyasastra, and over the centuries has been moulded with varied forms, into being what is today a powerful medium for epitomizing the world around and also the elements of the inner self. Despite its roots in the Christ’s Era, this ancient art form that was lost among the court-dancers and held captive with the Kings, was resuscitated rather recently. This awakening, in the dawn of the twenty-first century, has brought with it a plethora of flavors, some inherited but predominantly, youthful and novel.

The Renaissance
Inspite of being thousands of miles away from the traditional schools of Bharatanatyam, including my own, I cannot but wonder at the phenomenal growth that the art form has witnessed with the contemporary elements being neatly inter-twined in all of its manifestations today. When Rukmini Devi and Krishna Iyer re-discovered Bharatanatyam and visualized its puritan art sans the extraneous “sringaara”, the dance form had already acquired a whole new identity. It was being draped with new emotions, the navarasas, yet clinging onto the traditional elements of body movements – the adavu and the abhinaya just the way they were documented in the Natyasastra, the Abhinayadarpana or for that matter, any of the authentic lakshanagranthas.

New Avenues in Bharatanatyam
Though the revived presentation of Bharatanatyam initially adhered to most of the authentic aspects of “Nritya”, the middle of the twenty-first century saw an enormous growth in contemporary dance forms that often imbibed features of other Indian classical dances and sometimes even attempted to portray social issues. A classic example would be the style adopted by Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subramaniam. Besides having introduced various new elements into a concert such as the “Pushpanjali”, Padma Subramaniam also integrated, in her dance, implicit messages for her audience. Though her basics were from the Vazhuvoor style of dance, Dr. Padma made Bharatanatyam a totally versatile art form and incorporated movements from Odissi, Kuchipudi and Kathak in her own new style of dance. “Bharatanrityam” thus evolved giving a new direction to the ancient dance form. Every piece of her performance has since been presented with a gush of contemporary ideas; she would not only amuse her audience with the tales of a Kuravanji but also bring a dummy gun as a prop to display a presentday war!

Art and Activism: Expressions that ‘speak’ for the times
Over the past decade, Bharatanatyam has emerged as an instrument that portrays on the one hand, the agony and chaos in the present-day world and on the other, the scientific and technological advancement in the new millennium. Anita Ratnam has been one of the leaders in this fusion of cultural activism in Bharatanatyam. Anita came from the traditional Kalakshetra School of Dance and mastered her art under her guru, Adyar K. Lakshmanan. She invested her time in new dance ventures as she toured the world and collaborated with a number of foreign performers and theater companies. Arangham founded by Anita in 1992, has presented several socio-oriented dance ballets such as ‘A Map to the Next World’, a summary of the colonial legacy of the native Americans and Indians. Besides, she has also adopted various abstract themes in her concerts. ‘Movements Monuments’ has been choreographed to simply highlight the interrelation between physical and kinetic structures. The performers used several geometric figures in their movements which reflected a subconscious encoding of structures in form,
foundations, shapes and emotions. ‘Pratirupa’ inspired by German poetry is one other choreography that emphasizes on the inner self. While meandering away from the epics and Indian mythology in such dance ballets, Anita also keeps to traditional Tamil literature and temple art in her productions ‘Kaisiki Natakam’ ‘Kannagi’ and ‘Gajaanana’ among others.

The Traditions: Immortal and Fresh
No matter how much the ages have influenced and inspired Bharatanatyam into becoming a medium of awareness than a mere form of art and classics, the traditions associated with its teaching, learning and practising have survived its evolution and will remain immortal. The guru-sishya identity, the intimate association with Lord Nataraja, the start at a Vijayadasami, ‘first’ dance lessons and the slokas on mudras and abhinayas, the Arangetram and overall, the ‘reminiscence’ of the art are those virtuous and indelible elements of Bharatanatyam that are unique to this Classical art form. And it is this identity that has spread past boundaries to captivate and profoundly influence the devout rasikas.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home