Anita Ratnam’s Verdict on Madras Season 2009-2010

A  reader has brought to our attention Anita Ratnam’s observation on the season that is now coming to an end. The comment itself is  published in her website She identifies the 4 top soloists (Bharathanatyam dancers) for the season – “Rama Vaidyanathan,  Alarmel Valli,  Malavika Sarukkai and Priyadarshini Govind.” She goes on to tease out each of their strengths and weaknesses.

She concludes her comment with her observations on the  dancer (who danced) “as Tamizh nature goddess Kottravai. Watching her reminded me of the schizoid personality of BN in today’s world. All body, all ego, zero abhinaya and no soul. ” 

Well, who was this dancer?

Read the complete  comment at

18 responses to “Anita Ratnam’s Verdict on Madras Season 2009-2010

  1. Anita Ratnam should either perform nritta like the others do at their age or stop commenting on people who are still in shape and performing despite all the odds. You can watch Anita in her videos in youtube videos (not just abhinaya) and anyday, handsdown, i would watch Priyadarshini Govind if given a choice. Did she just say Mallika Sarabhai is better than Priyadarshini Govind :). And did she just pronounce Srividya natarajan the best??
    5:40 is when you should realise what you are comparing! What is that? A sarakkal in aramandi? Or is she standing? So much for learning at kalakshetra for Anita Ratnam. At least Priyadarshini Govind knows how to keep lines. And you can tell whether she is sitting or standing!!! She has amazing stamina to perform a ‘Bharatanatyam’ margam with a grace and control no kalakshetra student can question or refute! This kind of a biased commentary just puts Anita Ratnam in a poor light..

  2. The question in the poll should be “is it ok for a salsa dancer to review a Bharatanatyam dancer?”

    Isn’t it Anita, who publicly renounced Bharatanatyam (since she couldn’t master it) a long time ago, has “all ego, zero abhinaya and no soul”? While her comments on Priyadarshini are mostly apt even if biassed, maybe she could tell us how she came to realize “what BN was originally”!

    Another question could be, “What is your version of how Rama Vaidyanathan managed to get on Anita’s “TOP 4 soloists” list?” If it is solely by the audience numbers, then there are so many other dancers who attract far larger audience. Then?

  3. I read the article and had to agree with Mrs.Anitha in few places and disagree in many places.. Did Mrs.Anitha watch all the artistes who performed for the season? How can she declare a particular duo’s as “THE” best performance of the season? She always keeps posting something controversial on her website!

  4. When I read her comments 2 days ago, I was mentioning to my family how biased AR is. Isn’t it a bit of sycophancy that she is praising only her collaborator openly? (Hari Krishnan has been her collaborator for 10 years and also for the Ma3ka production that premiered this season). To some extent, I agree that PG’s dance is bit filmy in some abhinaya pieces, that doesn’t mean that she is in any way less BN artiste than AR. No one can beat her stamina.
    As far as your survey on critically reviewing another artist, I would say yes. BUT, who is critically reviewing is very very important. AR is a good critic for another artist performing ONLY AR’s style of contemporary dance or contemporary dance itself.
    I completely agree with Madhana Raghavan that AR has not seen all the artist’s performances of the season to say anything. This cherry picked analysis does not help anyone except satisfying herself.

  5. At the same time, I would like to say that to some extent I did agree with most of her views. But, surely the tone could have been different.

    Dear all,
    AR is definitely a very intelligent woman and a prolific writer with strong views and opinions. Being the founding editor of places all the more responsibility on her shoulders. Publishing her opinion piece on a portal that is not considered/viewed her personal space, but is identified more as a platform for Classical Indian dance requires her to be very objective. She deserves a big applause for creating a database for Indian dance of this stature in the first place. But now Narthaki has grown and many readers accept its authority in the field. So the expectations for it are high too.. It has now ceased to just be AR’s journal . AR’s vision for Narthaki may or may not match the expectations of us readers, we dont know for sure.. It’s the same kind of reaction immature reporting in a trusted (favorite) newpaper elicits from its readers. The same report may not have a similar effect in another without the perceived value; since that’s what is expected of it.

    If she did the same under a domain like personal blog, that would be a different thing all together. Any artiste is technically free to do that. I am sure all artistes have hordes to tell about the performances they get to watch , like all of us do.. I feel even putting it under the review page of would have been ok… open for public discussion and debate. I am not saying that now it is not… IMHO when such a piece is published on the home page of Narthaki, even when it bears only her personal signature, it probably gives it a different connotation.

    One may or not agree with her views, I think that wasnt what upset people here.. Her likes and dislikes and her picks are well known to her regular readers. It is the fact that this may be misconstrued to be more than one individual’s personal opinion.


  6. You said “Being the founding editor of places all the more responsibility on her shoulders. Publishing her opinion piece on a portal that is not considered/viewed her personal space, but is identified more as a platform for Classical Indian dance requires her to be very objective.”

    This is very very true.

  7. “All body, all ego, zero abhinaya and no soul”-just about sums up Anita’s dance(if you can even call it that). As for Priyadarsini-her dance is nothing short of divine. Her lines are perfect and shows the work that has gone into it. As for her abhinaya- she is the only dancer whose abhinaya can move even the most unsophisticated in the audience because it springs from her soul. I heard HariKrishnan -in the question and answer session, he made an utter fool of himself. I was actually embarrassed for the man! As for Anita-her intro to her dances make you expect something good until she dances. Then you want her to stop because her dance is nothing short of terrible!

  8. Without any doubt,Ms.Anita Raajyalaxmi Ratnam is a very intelligent person.She knows when to take on somebody.

    Four years back, she commented on a very senior dancer performing arimaNdi on stage(this dancer is a very reputed guru and a performer known for his perfect ‘sitting’ and ‘half-sitting’ postures).She called it ’embarrassing'(maybe because she knows she can never do an ‘araimandi’ in this birth and tehrefore must have felt very embarrassed!).

    I have my own views on Priya’s dance and though her hardcore fans will surely disagree with me, it is not the same Priya that I know say 5 years ago.But still,she is a good dancer and far ahead of Anita in all aspects of dance.What sort of ‘overhaling’ is Anita is talking about?

    By the way, is it necessary for all dancers to have oratorial skills?
    After all, all dancers cannot anchor TV shows in the US..nor can they boast of acting in Rajiv Menon’s movies.

    A dancer is a dancer and her/his skills and talents are judged by their abhinayas on stage and not by their ‘chatter-boxing’ skills.

    I am sure the brilliant Anita Raajyalaxmi Ratnam knows this..

    ps:Once while writing a reply to a comment,she wrote ‘After all how many youngsters in our country knew about ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu’ until they watched Anniyan?’.
    Very unfortunate that she cannot even distinguish between Nattai and Sri.So much for her ‘Brilliance’!

  9. Yes, Kausalya, Priyadarsini’s dance is nothing short of divine. In fact, Priyadarsini would put to shame even apsara Urvasi! No, Lord Nataraja himself can’t compare with Priyadarsini!

  10. I am just pasting (a part of) AR’s recent comment which in part is presumably a retort/answer to this post

    “For all those who wrote in and sent sms texts and calls for my earlier editorial on the RAMP divas… Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I enjoyed reading each and every comment on emails and on other blogs devoted to BN. Thanks to all the bhadralok whose creative responses convinced me of the passion and devotion that dance occupies in so many hearts. Most importantly, I never realized that through all these ten years and mostly bland writing and reviews, that ONE personal view point could be discussed and shared across the cyber universe! This website is really part of your lives 24/7. And you really read what I write. To think that I only started these editorials 6 months ago!

    Now, if only those 100-plus snarky bloggers and the other 100-plus adoring fan bloggers can be sifted to have 50 seriously concerned about dance writing, we would be making progress and serving dance itself.

    Anita Raajyalaxmi
    Chennai, India
    Jan 26, 2010 ”

    Snarky bloggers???- who, where?
    100+ fan bloggers??- that many eh?

  11. Why does she increasingly prefer to put Raajyalaxmi (moderated)? 🙂

    She is right in writing that reviews will always be bland as long as the reviewer pretends to be “objective”, cloaking personal impressions in impersonal-sounding and politically correct language.
    ( Sangeetha :I agree with this one too.. objective reviews are bland, but somewhere something tells me that a participant can never be an unbiased reviewer)

    As for “serving dance itself”, she didn’t tell us what dance: neo-natyam, folk, modern fusions (of hamburgers with honey), ballet, kathakali or salsa. All of these are short-lived nonsense, and will disappear within a couple of centuries at the longest.

  12. lol. I think you are one of the Snarky bloggers and I am one of the fan bloggers.

    Hi Ragothaman,
    I thought I wasnt snarky… I never meant to be so. In fact a few of these comments I personally felt were too harsh and so I used my usual board of friends and we voted to publish them.Anyway if readers feel that way, I probably have to curb my tendencies. 🙂
    You, a fan blogger? AR’s fan is it?
    God I am so upset at being called snarky 😦

  13. Sangeetha, a participant can be an unbiased reviewer once he/she gets rid of the ego (ahamkar) and becomes a great saint (like Bharata) with a universal consciousness.( Sangeetha : True, True, but this ideal case scenario doesn’t come by easily )

    I think it was me (not Sangeetha) whom Ragothaman meant to put in the “Snarky” category. He could have as well put me in both. 🙂
    (Sangeetha : Hmm…. you a fan blogger (of whom??)

  14. lol. I am just making light of AR’s comments. Please dont be upset, sometimes we need to be snarky. So it can be anyone including me and Ashwini.

    :)- Sangeetha

  15. Sangeetha, the funniest is that I like many of the dancers that I have criticized (you can find my critical remarks on everybody, I think). It does not disqualify me from being labelled as their “fan blogger”, does it? 😉

    If you say so Ma’am.. You know what, if you put this down somewhere prominent in your blog, you will earn a lot of good will:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s