Came across the new post in the “Footloose” column in The Hindu by Aranyani Bhargav titled “Tradition or Modernity?” dated July 6th 2012.
While a part of the ‘revival’ meant the invention of a tradition, the simultaneous adherence to tradition in terms of learning from the traditional masters, keeping the traditional repertoire, while simultaneously reinterpreting it, and making monumental modernist changes is consistent with the concept of traditionalism, and therefore with modernity.
By linking the ‘revived’ dance with the nation, a modern collectivity, ‘revivalists’ modernised Bharatanatyam. Educational institutions of dance modernized the guru-shishya relationship as well. The incorporation of Ballet into the reconstruction of Bharatanatyam (as suggested by Janet O’Shea) is yet another chraracteristic of modernity. Finally the presentation of Bharatanatyam was also modernized – the costumes were changed, and the musicians were placed on the side of the stage, rather than behind the dancer as was traditionally done.
could it be that perhaps without even realising it, they [revivalists] did indeed create something much more modern than merely reinvigorating or purifying a dying tradition?
Some questions to ponder in the current prevailing situation:
Can performing to the current format aka Margam termed traditional? Even though it was codified by the Tanjore quartet about two centuries ago?
Can thematic presentations that have classical music with or without lyrics and choreographing with interesting korvais termed modern?
Is the current situation of performing in temple spaces, called traditional dance? However, the dance form is no longer part of the temple rituals, then is it modern?
Do you think current Bharatanatyam dancers perform a traditional dance form or a modern dance form? Send us your response.