What’s your kind of Bharathanatyam?

I have always been amazed at how each person looks for their own thing in Bharatahanatyam. While some enjoy vigorous Nritta, others savour Abhinaya. Some succumb to the pleasures of heart racing tempo generated by incessant vocabulary movement strewn around in the choreography, others look for peace and rest that make higher realizations possible. Bharathanatyam isn’t authentic if one dosen’t perform atleast a few of the 108 karanas to some, while others detest having to watch it.

Here is a compilation of various views expressed at various forums:-

“People pay money if they really need and really want it.People are willing to pay for cinema if the film is made professionally. People do not pay to go do the cinema to watch amateurish films.People go to restaurants if the food is professionally cooked there. Why some restaurants charge 100 times more for the same dish than others, is up to you to answer.People go to parties because these are not boring, unlike most classical dance programmes.But then if some “professional” classical indian dancers start complaining that nobody is willing to pay them, hmmmmm…. Here is the checklist for such dancers:

– look in the mirror: if you do not look beautiful for other people, they will not come to watch your dance

– try to fine a trace of a waistline: if there is none, don’t expect anyone to turn up for your programme

– look at how many karanas out of 108 you can perform: if you cannot bend in any direction, start teaching dance

– look at how fast your jatis are: if any 12-year-old can do it twice faster, it is a sign for you to retire

– look at your expressions at the end of your jatishwaram: if your face looks miserable, so do the rasikas feel

– look at your choreography: if it looks like a bad copy of Bollywood dance, better start a modern dance career ” J. Hemamalini, India

“As Natya Shastra states the qualities required of a female dancer, “Women who have beautiful limbs, are conversant with the sixty-four arts and crafts (kala), are clever, courteous in behaviour, free from female diseases, always bold, free from indolence, inured to hard work, capable of practising various arts and crafts, skilled in dancing and songs, who excel by their beauty, youthfulness, brilliance and other qualities all other women standing by, are known as female dancers (narthaki)” Lila,???

“Dear Hemamalini,
Good points you have raised here.
But most of the points in the checklist are with respect to the initial visual perceptions. A person may have all these and still not give you any rasanubhava. The other day in the Bharathanatyam orkut there was one group talking about the fact that spritual satisfaction/rasa comes from watching slightly mature performers performing abhinaya pieces. Personally for me, rasanubhava arises when watching mature performers, a few of whom might even be just miming the songs out. There was a time when nritta appealed to me -not so much anymore… I can never compare this with how I am moved when watching Sri.Dhanajayan as Nandanar, or Smt.Chitra do Srinivasan Perumai, or When Sri.Kelucharan Mahapatra did his astapathis…
I would love to hear from more people as to whether they like such Abhinaya rich slow pieces without much nritta too… Or am I so alone in this fast track world..In fact the youngsters are so good technically, no doubt about that. But I am sure there are times when you look for much more than techincal perfection and visual excellence, isn’t it? ” Response from Sangeetha, Indonesia (that’s me).

“True sangeeta. i have a perfromance cd of priyadarshini’s varnam and one of anitha’s asthapati and one of sudha’s madurai n krishnan’s margam, in which priya murle has performed a varnam. now, when i compere these three, definately priyadarshini is very ttechnically perfect, the poses are so good, watching it, i just get up and dance- thats the feeling, but when i watch anitha’s asthapati or priya murle’s varnam, iam so engrossed in it- the rasa anubhava, i abosluetely enjoy it and start feeling the same feelings that r presented. if thats what u mean… ” Mallika from Australia

“You know, there are still crazy people who read such bad books like Abhinayadarpanam and others, where those ancient idiots write that natya has to do with the beauty of the body expression, and you know, those ancient idiots even wrote all those boring lists of the qualities that disqualify one from performing natya!

Shame on Bharata Muni for describing some of those unnecessary 108 karanas! I cannot do many of them!
Let’s forget all those stupid books! Of course, visual perceptions are not necessary to give you rasanubhava. My friend once told me that he once experienced rasanubhava while watching an old lady walking across a road with a walking stick.

Politically well-connected people do not need good nritta or good karanas. They give you rasanubhava just like Smt.Jalayalitha does the Abhinaya rich slow pieces. She is the greatest dancer who gives rasanubhava and some cash to thousands of the AIDMK activists!

Personally, I prefer watching Charlie Chaplin. Everybody says his abhinaya is far better than Kalanidhi Narayanan’s.

If you look for much more than technical perfection and visual excellence, you will enjoy watching this (mature bharatanatyam dancer?):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylmeqm_S_Sk” A.Harish from???

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