Some of us are familiar with the revival of Vilasini Natyam by the Kuchipudi dancer Swapnasundari. Recently (last week?), at the Sri Ranganatha temple in Rang Bagh, she and her students performed the Vilasini Natyam for the Brahmotsavam festival.
Here is an account of how Swapnasundari learned this art form from Kalavanthulu and has revived it in the Rang Bagh temple. I am quoting the interesting part below.
“What I learned from these hereditary dancers was what they had preserved. This had plus points and minus points. I was not getting a very sophisticated version of the Bharatam of the Telegu temple and court dancers. I was getting it in a raw state. And it was for me to adapt it in the way I was required to do for my time. That’s a plus point. The minus point was that they were not used to teaching it as a system in a way that we are used to. When studying a classical dance, you usually start with adavus and then go on to items, etc., but here there was no such system. Since they had never followed such a system, they did not dream of teaching in such a way. So my first guru would make me do a few adavus and then after a while she would start singing a padam, or whatever item I was learning. After she had finished singing the pallavi and anupallavi she would simply move to something else, like the abhinaya of a sloka. After teaching me two lines she would take a break and when she came back she would start teaching me something else. For me this was terribly confusing because I thought I would learn in a vertical way and go deeper and deeper whereas she was going in a horizontal way and trying to teach me all aspects at the same time, bit by bit. Much later I adapted to this system and I would sit with a tape recorder and a notebook and tapes around me and try to take everything down. That was the only way for me to absorb everything that she was teaching me! So there was a practical difficulty in reclaiming this material. Also, I had to struggle to disinherit my training in Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi. So those dynamics had to be disinherited in a sense and I had to start from zero.”
and an article by Swapnasundari about the theatrical, court and traditions of Vilasini Natyam and their inherent differences.
Courtesy: Sacred space blog