Bangalore Bharatanatyam dancers, Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai vs Kalakshetra, lasya, tejas, the dancers age, purity of mind, and the secret of movements, Kalanidhi Narayan and Balasaraswati

(Based on new writings from A.)

Priyanka

” Smt. Revathi Narasimhah is one of Karnataka’s leading dance gurus” is a standard beginning in her students brochures. And I fully endorse this statement. I do not know what kind of students she has in Bangalore, but when she brings someone (usually, quite rich girls… :-) ) to  perform in Chennai, you bet these recitals are truly worth watching!

Revathi Narasimhan is among the top 3-4 choreographers that I know of (and I know more than 150). Her choreography and style is quite different from anything we are used to in Chennai. When I first saw Priyanka Chandrasekhar, it was such a pleasure to see such a dignified, beautiful and delicate girl trained so well.

While a trained eye will notice a plenty of momentary ugly expressions on 99% of the professional dancers, there were none on Priyanka’s face. Very polished and dignified mukha abhinaya – at the expense of variety? Every movement was very well-practised and was full of force. The forceful movements, the forceful abhinaya and accurate nritta and decent angasuddhi were the hallmarks of her schoolmate, Krupa Rajul Shah, who gathered in Vani Mahal almost as many rasikas as Alarmel Valli managed to draw to her first recital this year in Bharat Kalachar. People know that Revathi Narasimhah has high standards, and it ensures the attendance.

(Krupa is on the left)

Both Priyanka and Krupa were suspiciously similar in every way, and looked like sisters. Partly, it is because of the makeup (some of the best styles that I have seen). While 60% of all dancers’ makeup make them look worse than they do without it, the other 40% use it to enhance their features.

I do not know why Rupa wrote that in The Hindu, but I saw a lot of vigour in Priyanka’s and especially in Krupa’s recitals. This vigour and forcefullness, matched with the angular movements, made me doubt if it is indeed Vazhuvoor style. “I had to modify the Vazhuvoor style, as the rising popularity and spread of the Kalakshetra style forced me to make it more attractive for more people”, said Revathi. The cost of such modification was huge: most of the charm and delicate softness of Ramaiah Pillai’s heritage vanished. While both Priyanka and Krupa excelled in the passages that required tandava, they both (especially Krupa) failed in doing the passages where lasya was dominant. The intricate patterns and elaborate movements of Ramaiah Pillai’s style were replaced by the simplified, straight lines of Kalakshetra. Such a pity!

Krupa‘s varnam Devar Munivar was full of inspiration, bhakti, nobility and power (the passages with the Narasimhah and the Vamana avataras in particular were full of tejas and the images were so vivid and awe-inspiring that it gave me goosebumps, and my mind bowed down in humble adoration to the feet of this girl)

The next item, padam Indendu Vachidevira, was quite a contrast, as it required a lot of lasya and subtle mukha abhinaya, but Krupa‘s face was quite rigid, the movements were manly, and she obviously did not understand the symbols behind the lyrics. Priyanka was a bit better in this respect.

While Revathi said I cannot expect such young girls to be able to bring out all the nuances of the nayika bhavas, I told her that, in my opinion, some “mature” little uninhibited girls of 11-12 years old (when our soul, chaitya purusha, influences our nature most) such as Sivasri, Medha Hari (she lost it now :-( ), or, to some extent, Vani Nagarajan and Manaswini Ramachandran (her mom will make her great!), produce richer, more subtle, more refined, pure and more elevating abhinaya in the “adult” padams and varnams. “Such abhinaya is inadequate”? What is “adequate” then, we have a question?

The popular misconception is that some items are “suitable for children” and some are not. The Bhakti movement made use of adult (often crude) human relationships, experiences and feelings, and showed how these can be used as symbols to signify the spiritual relationships, experiences and sentiments. Unfortunately, if we focus more on portraying the details of a token itself instead of what this token stands for, we fail in Natya.

In a Narthaki.com’s article, we read, “The middle class housewife could never be successful in abhinaya because, she was too comfortable and satisfied in her domestic security. The Devadasi on the other hand had to constantly rely on her wit and talent to keep her lover(s) coming back to her. Only a woman who gets up in a morning to find her lover gone knows what viraha is,” maintained housewife Balasaraswati insisting that all poetry and art arise out of this pain of separation rather than from staid fulfillment. Now one of the foremost authorities on abhinaya today is housewife Kalanidhi Narayan. While the general belief is that a dancer’s training is incomplete without learning abhinaya from Kalanidhi, a senior dancer, on condition of anonymity (!!!), expressed her disapproval in the way abhinaya is now being defined as how Kalanidhi Narayan sees it.” The housewife Kalanidhi Narayanan, who released a plenty of her abhinaya lessons on DVDs,made us all believe that, unless a woman has experienced a sexual intercourse with a man, she would not be able to portray the union with the Divine in her Bharatanatyam recital! What a lie! Kalanidhi is only good for training young actresses for vulgar Tamil movies. Kalanidhi will not be able to explain to you why the original devadasis were celibate their entire life!

No, Maami, Natya is not like photography, not the Tamil movies, it is like painting the invisible, the spiritual.

While the children may not understand the concrete expressions and the gross adult experiences, they subconsciously understand and feel the spiritual truths behind the symbols much better than the adults.

One of the things that the bharatanatyam dancer must possess for doing a “soft” style is the flexibility and mobility of the joints and muscles, and, most importantly, the movements must originate from the area around the swadhisthana chakra (the centre of physical movement) – something that both the girls somehow did not show (interestingly, some students of Bangalore’s Sundari Santhanam did it very well in their DVD on Karanas )

If a movement does not originate from this natural center, it makes it look forceful, and the dancer soon gets tired. This is one of the first things that you learn in most Asian martial arts.

I noticed that that the girls of 10-12 years old are the best in this respect, and, as we grow older, our bodies become stiffer and lose their responsiveness to music. Some of these 10-12 years olds dance in such a way that every beat, every change of note in the music produces not one, not two, not five but 30-40 well-co-ordinated and spontaneous movements, some of them very small, in every joint, in every muscle. This mobility and responsiveness of the sattva-dominated body helps achieve angasuddhi and laya. A tamasic or rajasic body is unsuitable for Natya.

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39 thoughts on “Bangalore Bharatanatyam dancers, Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai vs Kalakshetra, lasya, tejas, the dancers age, purity of mind, and the secret of movements, Kalanidhi Narayan and Balasaraswati

  1. i dont complete disagree with kalanidhi narayan’s belief that unless u r of a certain maturity, u can express a lot of feeling. especially like the viraha bhava, i would say u have to have a sexual experiace to potray it right, but u need to be of a certain age and maturity to understand the nuances,and one can safely say u can find those expressions in children convincing they look phoney. and darling, iam sure i dont have to tell u abt rasanubhava…

  2. My dear Mallika, originally the devadasis were celibate their entire life. Kalanidhi would ask, “How then they could express anything?” :-(

    Ok, what is “convincing”? You did not get the point: the difference between the “convincing” photograph and an “unconvincing” picture (the picture of Kali in the post is very unconvincing, eh?)

    I did not say that all children can portray it in a convincing way. Maybe only 1%, but even these you may not find “convincing”.

    My point was that these 1% of children can express it in such a way that their expression would be the purest (suddhi) reflection of the soul’s particular experience. Will it look “convincing” to someone whose soul has not had this particular spiritual experience? Of course not! No wonder the majority of rasikas in Kali Yuga will find it unconvincing!

    Getting the direct spiritual experience before trying to express it is the right approach. Kalanidhi does not have any such spiritual experience, this is why all she can express is her own everyday human experiences. How boooooooooooooring! :-(

  3. by convincing, i mean, the make it real look, everybody knows its on stage…here i would like to bring in the rasanubhava. talent yes, also definately its the experiance that gives the ability to a dancer to give rasanubhava to the rasika. also age does matter, with age comes certain ability to observe and potray emotional nuances. what u said in the other article is true, a student of dance, do not achieve the kind of abhinaya, because teacher tells what to do, or most improtantly, what not to do.luckily my teacher, a young not so popular lady, always made me understand the item, then only the nritta part she corrected, she let me do the abhinaya of what i percieved, and corrected me where what iam trying to potray is not showing well on my face and body. i have a strong theatre background that helps. but not everybody is this lucky. especially kids. they are good in abhinaya, no doubt, but there is a strict limit to what they can do. i hope iam clear enough.

    i am impressed by u r articles, not that i agree to all. could u pls tell me abt u r self.

  4. also, when u say abt devadasis, i would like to bring in an insight into human psychology. one can dream or crave of what one knows abt. the devadasis could potray emotions so beautifully without expriancing them, becoz though they lived the life they did, they most definately craved for a family etc… and thus so. they had knowledge of what they wanted. but without knowledge of anything or its existance, nd with abosolute ignorance, one can neither crave for it or dream abt it( as for craving or wanting it). thats the case with kids.

  5. Yes, I am her mommy :)
    Jokes apart, her fotos and videos are all over the web, and I am sure that even you are her great fan. :)

    The layout of my blog has 3 columns, and the photos in the 3rd column are not part of any particular post: they remain the same all the time.

    By the way, how do you like Smitha Madhav’s photo? :-)

  6. I am no Kalanidhi :)..but let me say what i think as a dancer..I was really good at abhinaya…when i was younger we had a rule in our dance class that i could not take the 5th year exam until i was 15. I thought that ws stupid because i saw a lot of 15 year olds who couldnt do a virahotkantitha as well as i did….I was a good actress…:)…

    But when i grew older, and i experienced what separation can make you do, feel and think….My perspective on all great poets completely changed. When i was a kid i did a very good mukhabhinaya and i dont think u can do it unless you imagine urself to be in that position of longing for your swami, but i always used to think why does she/he have to over obsess a not responsive lover? Why cant you get yourself a life and have some self respect rather than cry nanu brova neeku baarama?
    So…deep down, i never believed the poetry. I was, f you want a hypocrite sorts. Then pretty later (much later than 15!), i did everything that has been written in these scriptures. I pleaded, i begged, i longed, i cried, i made things up to get attention….Now, when i revisit my varnams, I do not think the nayika is an insecure idiot when she starts with ye maguva…:)
    I understand it…My abhinaya is probably less cute than it was when i was 10, but I am consciously trying to recreate what i went through in lines….

    So i think what Kalanidhi mam meant was that one needs to emotionally experience union and longing to truly appreciate the nuances in sahityam and abhinayam…It is not a black and white question of whether or not intercourse/”maturity” is necessary….or needed….It increases the number of ways in which the dancer appreciates the composition….so it is desirable…

    along the same arguments..being a housewife does not necessarily mean that she is content and has never been through yearning….By that argument how did the devadasis portray fulfillment if they were celibate? :)..

  7. Yes, Subha, how did the devadasis portray fulfillment if they were celibate?

    Unlike the modern teenagers who read Harry Potter and believe that scriptures are merely some nonsensical “poetry”, the devadasis were taught the spiritual symbolism of the metaphors. Maybe some of them had the actual experiences (“fulfillment”).

  8. exactly my point

    So, Kalanidhi maami might not finally be completely useless if she understands the spiritual symbolism of metaphors and therefore has had experienced longing even though she is a housewife….Your logic in that statement didnt quite come out as it should have…:)…doesnt matter…i know what u mean.

  9. ANd we modern teenagers (I am no more one though :() so have to learn these spiritual symbolisms by ourselves and only a fortunate few can make the link and understand the deeper meaning of these verses…and if u have been dancing since 4 you would know that this learning curve in itself culminating in that realisation is very satisfying….and a challenge to be presented with that much more appreciation from the dancers side…and i enjoy (note the sense of present tense) the challenge….just like i enjoyed (note the past tense) reading harry potter…:). My inability to enjoy the scriptures was not because harry potter teaches poetry is non sensical…it was because even though i was “taught” that, it is another thing to believe it….I still dont believe in God…and trust me, i was taught a lot, metaphorically and other wise…but i believe in yearning…it is a question of self realisation…that is not something put off by reading harry potter…:)..or gospels for that matter…

  10. So, Kalanidhi maami might not finally be completely useless if she understands the spiritual symbolism of metaphors and therefore has had experienced longing even though she is a housewife

    I would say that understanding on the emotional (“longing”) or mental (in concepts) levels only the spiritual symbolism of metaphors is as completely useless as for a bedridden patient to earn a PhD. in Karate.

    you would know that this learning curve in itself culminating in that realisation

    Ideally, which is rarely the case… :-(

    scriptures was not because harry potter teaches poetry is non sensical…it was because even though i was “taught” that, it is another thing to believe it….I still dont believe in God

    It is not so much a matter of belief but a question of whether you have any curiosity (is this what you mean by “yearning”?) or interest to experience what is written in the scriptures – first had experience. They write that you can only EXPERIENCE Brahman when Bhrahman chooses you. So if God is not interested in showing itself (Bhahman is actually “IT”) to you, your mom can only pray It does. Once you experience it, all these conversations about “belief” sound total nonsense like whether you believe in apples or not.

  11. Yes…when i said, until anything but self realisation (which u put as “Brahman will choose me) strikes, the words do not mean as much as they should. When i say i understand yearning, i understand the yearning to be one with God. I understand the need to understand him. I understand the urgency in the verses to ask the lord to come to the author (which i can interpret in two ways. 1. There exists God-the one person who will come and give me spiritual salvation. 2. I will understand the concept of God (which means he might/might not exist, but i will finally understand the truth about it) and thus attain salvation. I agree…once you have the realisation all the debates of belief you had become immaterial (konda mana sanchlangal panjaai parandidume..:))

    As far as your question of whether i am interested in experiencing what is written in the scriptures go…yes! very much! I spent an hour today deciphering paasaththagapattiriunden…:)…was watching DD archives of Sudharani Raghupati and saw her painkili vannan…and digged out the meaning and lyrics…then saw anita ratnam’s take on it…and….thus goes my evening…..then i decide to stalk knowledgable people like you! :) some shortcuts!

  12. I actually have a question for you. I wanted to ask it since now i have watched 4 peoples DD archives. Padma Subramanium, Sudha Rani Raghupati, Chitra Vishweshwaran and S. Kanaka. Have you ever seen (since i have not) a devadasi dance? (Innocent question, no claims). All these stalwarts have been trained by so called big names in bharatanatyam including chitra vishweshwaran who has actually been trained by a devadasi. Common denominator all of their abhinaya are excellent, with great manodharma and something completely un-kalakshetra ( much more expressive and complex with a lot of sancharis is what i mean, no offense meant to any kalakshetra people)

    But all of their Nrittams do not even remotely look like they had any …..how should i put it…uhhhmmm…clean lines? Like kalakshetra….but something i see in people who claim to be melattur all the time (like SN, for eg.)

    Even in Manaswini’s video, i noticed some very unclean throws of wrist (esp. in tat tai ta ha adavu) ….which i now understand is how “original” (read non kalakshetra) bharatnatyam was. Is my observation right? Was originally Nritta (although well choreographed and executed) not “clean” (read no stooping-i saw this with stalwarts!, straight line of diagonal hands, clean transitions)? If it was so, does it not unsettle people like you to see them? (or is it only me because i have been trained to maintain lines?) Did devadasis actually perform like these people do? (I am not saying it is wrong. I am saying i personally do not prefer it).I remember when i discussed Anirudha Knights performance with someone, they told me that is Balasaraswati’s style. Was she this fluid and uncontrolled too? Since i do not have videos to watch…and can certainly tell from the pictures i see that natyarambham is never maintained in old pictures this is my conclusion and i wanted to know from you.

    If indeed, “original” bharatnatyam was not clean, then i find it amusing that SN in it’s website actually goes ahead and says they are the ones which follow melattur and kalakshetra is over simplified while the controlled body lines of their students is a big kalakshetra stamp. (except for every now and then when they break into karnas- no offense :))

  13. Personally, I have not seen a devadasi dance, but many of the people I know have. Their accounts indeed agree that the lines were not “clean”, and there were hardly any proper adavus executed at all. The reason is simple: what we call “nritta” today is actually recent developments of the folk dance elements, and were matching the developments of the desi rhythms and tunes. “Nritta” of the Natya Shastra meant “only karanas”. The consequences of adding regional folk dance steps resulted in the non-acceptance of “Bharatanatyam” outside South India. So it became rigid, rigidly attached to the current Carnatic music. Therefore you cannot choreograph any adavus-based nritta to a bengali keertanam rendered veeeeery slooooowly (and practically with hardly any mridangam audible!). Any Odissi or Mohiniattam or Bharatanrithyam dancer would not have any such problems.

    I think you should understand two things:

    1. there were (and are) vastly different groups of people called by a generic name “devadasi”
    2. even within each group there were huge differences in their performances because the techniques were not really standardized

    Chitra vishweshwaran herself admitted that she was only taught what was “appropriate” (i.e. no sringara). Today even Chitra Vishweshwaran demands identical reproduction of every slightest expression even in nritta abhinaya, which is nonsense.
    Each devadasi was a “hand-made” piece, while Kalakshetra is like a big factory churning out identical (machine-made) products. :-)
    “Clean” should not be a synonym to “mass-produced” but an antonym to “raw”. It is raw when, for example, each time you repeat the same movement (e.g. hands or torso or how high you lift your heels in tat tai ta ha) it looks very different, or when you do it on the left side very differently from how you do it on the right side. What Kalakshetra people call “unclean” is any trajectory that is not made up of straight lines. Only robots move in straight lines.

    in Manaswini’s video, i noticed some very unclean throws of wrist (esp. in tat tai ta ha adavu)

    When the wrist is relaxed (Kalakshetra dancers tend to keep it very stiff!), and when you spontaneously try to follow the rhythms (rather than focus on the correctness of limb movements), there may be slight variations. Can you tell me the exact min.sec. ? Perhaps Manaswini is yet to polish many things (her left shoulder does not move sideways with the same amplitude as the right, and she has to sit much lower, in proper araimandi, etc.). I too prefer “diagonal” hands, but try to do it at Manaswini’s speed, and you will understand something. :-)
    I have seen a full range of tat tai ta ha renderings: from the ultra-sharp Kalakshetra to the smooth Kuchipudi-like or to ultra-soft (“unclean”?) Mohiniattam-like. If you learnt it with a certain degree of “crispness”, don’t think that this way is the only right way to do it.

    Ok, next is your SN. It we look at their tat tai ta ha, there is hardly anything in common with Manaswini’s. Moreover, each SN student performs it in quite an individual manner, what makes their school similar to devadasis, by the way. Unlike Manaswini’s, theirs look more clearly defined, have a larger amplitude, and more rounded elbow movement. Unlike Kalakshetra’s, theirs involve more complex (bent and relaxed) torso and more relaxed (and thus, rounded) neck movements (but Manaswini’s head is held vertical, which I personally don’t like). The SN dancers’s amplitude of vertical chin movement in tat tai ta ha is quite average, which I don’t like. My favourite version of tat tai ta ha is the early Medha Hari’s, when, for example, she would arch her back forward (and move forward her shoulder too) whenever her hand goes forward. This version is a natural body movement. Each limb must never move in a totally isolated manner. Is break dance “clean”? :-)

    All in all, any people who claim to be melattur/pandanallur/vazhuvoor/etc all the time are just joking. Why do you ask me these questions if you yourself find it amusing? :-)

    Now to Balasaraswathy. I have seen her dance, and it’s very boring in terms of nritta and nritya. Yes, it is fluid, and quite spontaneous (“uncontrolled” ?). Whether a passage is to be done in a fluid or crisp manner depends on whether it is appropriate or not in a particular case (it also depends on the music rendering, etc). As for “uncontrolled”, I personally like the spontaneous dancing even if it does not look very errrrr…. “professional”.

    I wonder what you mean by the “controlled body lines” of the SN students. It is not “a big kalakshetra stamp”.
    Everybody who practises a lot will no longer need a conscious control: the body will automatically move in the correct manner, there is no need to consciously control each single movement. Roughly speaking, it takes 2000-3000 correct repetitions of a movement to make the body “remember” it.

    If you are too lazy to do these 2000-3000 correct repetitions, then you have a problem, as the scope of our attention is limited (how many things can you do consciously at the same time?). The problem with mentally over-controlled manner (when you actually are paying attention to how correct each of your movements is) is that it blocks the natural expression of joy in your nritta.

    Natyarambham is not supposed to be maintained in a too rigid (Kalakshetra) manner (for example, when you make a step, your arms and hands should wave a bit), but of course, at least the arms and hands should be symmetrical (most people bend their right elbow not at all like the left one!). Well, even without any visibility of good Natyarambham dancers manage to win Cleveland 2009 competitions. ;-) If you look at how the dancers from Bharathanjali keep their Natyarambham (with palms turned out and fingers vertical), it looks very interesting, actually, but your forearm must be very strong. :-) When “dancers” slouch and raise their shoulders in “Natyarambham”, it looks very funny and awkward.

  14. There exists God-the one person who will come and give me spiritual salvation.

    Sometimes a guru would come, sometimes there is no need for a human guru. But of course, your heart’s worries will fly away like cotton flakes :-) Hey, it’s dangerous: it may topple your current hierachy of values, and you will no longer take your molecular career seriously! ;-)

    By “the scriptures” I meant the writings of those people who had high spiritual realizations, not just some medieval rhymer.

  15. Interesting! if you do not include nachiyar andal as someone who had high spiritual realizations, then half the tam brahm community will kill you! :D that line was meant as a tool to elucidate a point. U dont have to “read” something if u can understand it by hearing it in the first place within first approximation..

    So we agree that we have a fundamentally different point of view of what constitutes nritta, what constitutes beauty and what consitutes bharatanatyam per say. You prefer spontaneous lucid movements, me not so much. You prefer added and arbitarily decided by dancer (which is ur definition of adding individualism to dance like devadasis) movements of hand and chin and neck and waist, me not so much.

    Nritta is like grammer. If karanas were the only supposed constituents of nritta and absolutely no other “folk dance style steps” which we call adavus, you should like bharatanrithyam which has karanas from start to end of a step. When u claim to like the mixed style of adavus performed in a control way with the kind of karnas which define acrobatism, you are picturing the kind of bharatnayam u want to see and keep repeating that today’s artists do not have the devadasi’s attributes of incorporating natyashastra into bharatanatyam. Neither do we know that devadasis followed the natyashastra to the core then, nor do we know anyone other than PS who did a panchanadai jati with only karnas and no adavus.

    “Therefore you cannot choreograph any adavus-based nritta to a bengali keertanam rendered veeeeery slooooowly Any Odissi or Mohiniattam or Bharatanrithyam dancer would not have any such problems. ”

    exactly. So u chide alarmel valli for not being able to produce something distinguishable from odissi and u chide kalakshetra if they do produce “bharatnatyam” which cannot be confused with odissi, kuchipudi or mujra for that matter. The only ones u are for are SN which is 1. highly kuchipudi influenced, 2. Throws in some streches by 11 year olds and call it inclusion of karnas 3. still fail to maintain the lucid movements of melattur and go for well defined lines wherever convenient. :)…doesnt make sense to me.

    “Everybody who practises a lot will no longer need a conscious control: the body will automatically move in the correct manner”

    Not true. As u said, the devadasis never had a controlled movement. According to me precision was brought by RDA and anyone who claims Kalakshetra is no good and dances with controlled grace is kidding himself. Have the so called uncontrolled grace, (no matter what speed-like manaswini) and i will give u the honor of degrading kalakshetra.

    Again, i, unlike you :) never claim this is right and this is wrong. But since u do, i wanted to know what is it that u deem right so that people who sob into their pillows or write angry responses to your blog rather than trying to find the thought process behind ur responses know that they are not wrong. they are just different in certain respects with their perceptions. I dont claim kalsketra is right and control is right. and lucid is wrong. But if you do believe kalakshetra is robotic, do so consistently and ask SN to teach their students to learn something from devadasis as to how to be original and “unclean”. A lot of people like alarmel valli. I am sure SN kids will also decelop a fan base. :)

    p.s. i dont take my molecular career seriously. ;) It is like criticism. Ilike to have it to see how much i can strech myself to do better. :)

  16. if you do not include nachiyar andal as someone who had high spiritual realizations, then half the tam brahm community will kill you!

    With a virus attached to their comments on this blog? :-)
    Seriously, there are 2 things that you should learn to perceive:
    1. The spiritual realizations are not all of the same calibre: there are the high and there are the higher (ideally, one should maintain samadhi in the waking state, but that is extreeeeemely rare)
    2. It is foolish to believe that all 32000 of Annamacharya’s compositions are on the same level:
    – the source of inspiration of each of them varies (e.g. depending from which loka it arrived), and
    – there is a varying degree of distortion of these various inspirations when it passes through the human (imperfect) mind (which is like a warped mirror) to put it into the human language and write the music

    we agree that we have a fundamentally different point of view of what constitutes nritta

    There are only 2 types of nritta, so what is there to agree or not agree about?

    what constitutes beauty

    There may be “different points of view” of what is “pretty” or “nice-looking” (lower or average degrees of beauty), but if there is real (high-degree) beauty (and perfection), it will attract EVERYONE (regardless of their points of view, cultural backgrounds, tastes, etc). Unfortunately it is very rare that I come across these instances of high-degree beauty.

    To some extent, it is your attitude and the things you are used to that makes your mind perceive something as beautiful or not beautiful. I remember many years ago we had to do one exercise: look at somebody’s (average) face and find attraction there, and then focus on the unbeautiful there. Typically, people of one race initially find it too hard to find any beauty in the people of another race. Essentially, it is not just a matter of getting used to: if you love someone, his face will look much more beautiful, etc. Eventually, I trained my mind to shift the focus (and change the attitude) at will – on a large scale, so my objectivity expanded, we can say. Normal people (slaves of prejudice) have no control over such things, so you can call me crazy.

    You prefer spontaneous lucid movements, me not so much.

    I prefer anything where the movements of the body follow the movements of the soul. Otherwise, I could enjoy watching robots as well.

    If karanas were the only supposed constituents of nritta

    In pure margi style only (very few people would appreciate it). Normally, it is ok to mix both the adavus and the karanas, obviously.

    you should like bharatanrithyam

    Why should I like bharatanrithyam? I hate watching PS dance: it is disgusting. I find the 95% of the the passages in bharatanrithyam choreographies to be very poor, and 95% of the dancers very bad. So what is there to prefer? If I like Sanscrit, it does not mean that I admire the verses of every idiotic Sanscrit poetaster.

    u chide alarmel valli for not being able to produce something distinguishable from odissi

    I don’t. I say that she does not have to label it as Bharatanatyam, that’s all. It’s a question of proper labelling. In fact, I love what she does.

    Throws in some streches by 11 year olds and call it inclusion of karnas

    Pardon????

    still fail to maintain the lucid movements of melattur and go for well defined lines wherever convenient

    I am sorry, but “lucid” is not the opposite of “well defined”, “original” is not the same as “unclean”. The degree of individual improvisation obviously should have some limit!

    Regarding the automatic vs. consciously controlled movements: please repeat (not mechanically but consciously, observing how differently you are doing it each time!) one movement 3000 times in 2-3 days and we will talk about it, ok?

    According to me precision was brought by RDA …Have the so called uncontrolled grace, (no matter what speed-like manaswini) and i will give u the honor of degrading kalakshetra.

    Again, “precision” was not brought about by RDA, nor it is a Kalakshetra stamp. Please. I think you want me to find you some videos with this “uncontrolled grace” with a “low precision level” but “high grace level”, right? Ok, when I have time, I will look through the videos. I never claimed that all Kalakshetra dancers are no good, by the way.

    unlike you :) never claim this is right and this is wrong.

    If I have a slightest doubt, I never do it either. When I see an apple, I claim I am right in calling it an apple. It’s just plain honesty.

    people who sob into their pillows

    Who is that???? :-( Those who can be good engineers but have no talent for dance? I feel great if I can help them make the right career choice! :-) If dancers like Urmila write angry responses, it is their choice what to write. If I critisise her, it does not mean that I don’t like her dancing. I wish she danced today like she did 20 years ago (since you watch those Doordarshan Archives, you probably got to see her too).

  17. iam not a part of this discussion, neither i intend to be. but iam tempted to make one point. iam in a phase where i cannot dance for some time. so i decide to concentrate more on spirtiuality- infact totally. i agree with the owner of the blog when he/she(since we r not sure about the gender) about her conclusiions of the outcome of being spiritual, but not totally into the concepts of it- for instance about lakshmi, parvati and saraswati.
    i agree with the the dancer above regarding people who are really passionate about dance doing their bit and its worth as much praising them. the devadasis, as i read abt them, never had to worry about their next meal. no kids no responsibilities. but things are different today. i can fight with my husband and buy his dinner, instead of making it, to go for a performance, but my 3month old will not wait till i finish my dance for her toilet or milk or any other need. if i have to choose between paying her school fees and my dance fees or even buying dance music, wat would i choose? if my dad wants to save up all the money he can to get his daughters married, then where is the solution? Iam not a devadasi. I like to have a family and kids. And then iam not allowed to be a devadasi. iam wat u call ‘ enslaved soul’ not only interms for dancing but for many factors i find it that way. thats why the intellectual people had sectioned people and society in so many ways and guided when we can leave the grihasthashrama. and iam a mother who can not shun from her basic duties. by the time my kids are by themselves, iam too old. it wud kill me if my daughter blames anything in her life on me saying as a mother i cared more for my dance. balance is the key.
    Where are the teachers- name address and contact pls- who are willing to teach the most talented for free? and i will get the money to travel to them. again talent like beauty is relative. why talk of relative things when we are not sure and aware of absolutes. talent is god given, to some extent can be developed. wherre as hardwork and dedication is a discipline one can develop and horne skills. i like to sing, but pathetic at it. am not passionate about it. so i remain that way. i love dance, and do not have the natural gifted ‘talent’ that many are born with and add other hinderances. but iam dedicated to dance.so are their any teachers- good ones- who can teach hardworking dancers for free, besides me? iam not looking at any business model of dance. i just want to learn, not even perform infront of some audiance. dance- is spiritual, and spiritual is personal. its not like if u shout loud u r voice will reach god.

  18. I wonder why you don’t ask Alarmel Valli or Urmila Sathyanarayanan how they managed when their children were very young. Padma Subrahmaniam, not a devadasi, decided that she did not want to complain about how hard it is for a young mother, so she made her choice and did not complain about it. When you make your personal choice, don’t try to make others feel as if you are a hero and everybody else owes you a million because you fight with your husband (who asked you to marry a man whom you would fight with?).

    concepts of it- for instance about lakshmi, parvati and saraswati.

    The “concepts” are not mine but are pretty much established knowledge – not only within the Tantric system. What exactly you disagree with?

    if i have to choose between paying her school fees and my dance fees or even buying dance music, wat would i choose?

    I think you will opt for the home schooling! :-) Are you planning to put your child in Harvard University and are asking us to pay your fees? If you married a husband who cannot afford a certain lifestyle, how is that related to my Bharatanatyam blog and the issues were are discussing here?

    if my dad wants to save up all the money he can to get his daughters married, then where is the solution?

    The solution is simple: pay Rs.10 lakhs for wedding costs, and then the rest of your life eat plain rice only. :-)
    50 years ago it was the BRIDEGROOM who had to pay the dowry! :-)

    I like to have a family and kids.

    Ask your husband to donate some amount to the African charities who sponsor families with 10 children or more. You know, families in Africa want to have a looooooot of children. :-)

    iam a mother who can not shun from her basic duties. by the time my kids are by themselves, iam too old.

    Tell it to Alarmel Valli, let’s see how she responds.

    it wud kill me if my daughter blames anything in her life on me saying as a mother i cared more for my dance.

    If you bring up a very selfish or idiotic child, you will surely have a lot of disappointments in your life.

    Where are the teachers- name address and contact pls- who are willing to teach the most talented for free?

    Well, as Subhalakshmi rightly pointed out, nothing free comes without any strings attached. Normally, the free tuition is for those who joined as children only, and those who prove their dedication and personal loyalty to the guru, those who exhibit extraordinary talent, discipline, hard work and enthusiasm. These will have to perform or teach (see who is teaching at the senior dancers’ schools!) or do anything else whenever their guru would ask. It’s a package deal (and I fully support this system, by the way). I don’t think your husband would approve it. I guess he would rather give you a few thousand rupees to pay your tuition fees. :-)

    i will get the money to travel to them

    For the airfare? You don’t sound as if you would agree to travel in a 3rd class to save the money for the tuition. You have an interesting attitude. :roll:

  19. How possibly can u read anything other than helplessness in rukmin’s post is beyond me. I have a question. Who is in your profile picture (Taking a detour, as far as calling an apple an apple is concerned, Divyatha’s hamsasyam -really? that kinky?
    The girl in your profile pic- no smile :(. eyes shaped upwards (?), alapadma not at the centre of her head. face half heartedly turned left, without the torso….just experimenting with how it feels when u call an apple an apple, dont worry! :))
    IS that u, ur kid, ur grandkid…shouldnt u be having harini jeevithas picture on your profile?? :)

    I was about to tell you what i mean by precision. Again, I dont mean to say other baani’s are not graceful. How many people have u seen take the Shiva’s pose. The way they take it invovles a big rotation of the hand (in alapadma or chandrakala with right) with torso before culminating in the abhaya hasta. It looks very graceful. I have done it when i was learning the god-knows-what style. But as i started learning much more important things, like your left knee should be pointing outward and not upward like everyone does and the index finger of his left hand in the Nataraja moorthy is slightly outward, I realised that these “graceful” transitions (or your so called movements of the soul) are as i said, additions on the part of the dancer but completely redundant. Only because my soul tells me that sweeping my hands like a ballerina is graceful, i dont do it. Kuchipudi on the other hand does. Notice everytime they hold the flute, it is accompanied by a swaying wrist motion; both wrists in counterclockwise direction.

    If you think Kalakshetra encourages rigid movements, not true. There is a reason most Kalakshetra students look like there are trying too hard and thus are not dancing with an individual spirit (robotic). Because they are asked to follow very – how do i put it- precise movements. Let me give u an example. The sarakal adavu- done with one foot on heel by most baanis. Its compositions have much more than permutations and combinations of alapadma and katakam with all teermanam adavus. No baani i have seen uses the kartari adavus or the other Bharatnatyam-specific adavus like kalakshetra does. Let me know if u see anyone use the tat tai ta ha other than the first and second one in ANY of their “complex” compositions.

    When u say, the choreography looked complex as a compliment, I am not sure u understand that complexity doesnt necessarily mean better. Singing a lot of Brighas does not make a great concert. The variety involved could be simple, but u need to do it to know that what is different.

    I am happy when you say no matter what the style, you do appreciate if a performcer can transcend the audience into experiencing something satvika. :) But it hurts to see u snipe at Kalakshetra at every possible occasion :)…I am not theri biggest fan but there is a reason, i prefer them. There are occassional occasions when i dont. But on the whole, i wouldnt stamp them everytime i mean robotic dancing.

  20. Who is in your profile picture

    You really don’t know? :roll:

    The girl in your profile pic- no smile

    Ok, ok. What picture should I upload? Yours? :-) Look, not everybody posts on the Web as many good pictures as Harinie! When I used Medha Hari’s pictures, some people were unhappy with it too. Maybe I can find a good photo of Urmila or Alarmel. :)

    Divyatha’s hamsasyam -really?

    Wellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll……. She is not perfect :)

    How many people have u seen take the Shiva’s pose.

    More than 1000. And you, my dear? :-) How do you like Vijayakumar’s version? :roll: And his “abhaya hasta”? ;)

    left knee should be pointing outward

    By the way, do you know why? :-)

    I realised that these “graceful” transitions (or your so called movements of the soul) are as i said, additions on the part of the dancer but completely redundant.

    Redundant????????????????????????????? From Kalakshetra’s point of view??? Nothing in good dance is or should be “redundant”. From Kalakshetra’s point of view, 90% of Bharatanatyam is redundant. I think Kalakshetra itself is now redundant. ;)
    “Graceful” transitions are not the same term as “movements of the soul”. The precision of the mudras & hasthas is necessary to achieve a clear portrayal, and will have a magic effect if done properly, in a proper state of mind. There will be no “magic effect” if your fingers move like Vijayakumar’s or Sonya Gandhi’s.

    Only because my soul tells me that sweeping my hands like a ballerina is graceful, i dont do it.

    Ok, when would you do it? You see, you are just not used to certain things, that’s all. It’s a matter of getting used to.

    they are asked to follow very – how do i put it- precise movements.

    You see, anatomically and psychologically these should vary according to the individual nature. It’s like the difference between a tailor-made costume and a ready-made uniform.
    Besides, who demonstrates those “precise” movements? I would like to see! ;)

    When u say, the choreography looked complex as a compliment, I am not sure u understand that complexity doesnt necessarily mean better.

    Compare how many words and word combinations Shakespeare used, and how many other “poets” did, and you will understand something. Variety and complexity are a sign of genius. Kalakshetra is a stamp of mediocrity.

    No baani i have seen uses the kartari adavus or the other Bharatnatyam-specific adavus like kalakshetra does

    Of course every baanis uses the adavus in its own way! Why should they copy Rukmini Devi’s usage????

    The sarakal adavu- done with one foot on heel by most baanis.

    ????? I have rarely seen it done this way!!!! What nonsense have you watched in your life????? If they do it on one foot on heel, they admit it is an error. So? Go and watch good dancers! :)
    Tat tai ta ha IS used in the middle of jathi segments by some schools (including SN, by the way). I think you have not watched much outside Kalakshetra! :roll: How or why it should it be used at the end of a jathi segment??? Can you show me? ;)

    I hope you will stop identifying yourself too much with Kalakshetra or any political party ;) Otherwise it would hurt to read my blog ;) Be yourself. :)

  21. :)

    I did not say tat tai ta ha is not used…I said no one uses anything better than the first type of yettadavu. The only other person i have seen use so much as the 4th yettadavu is chitra vishweswarans students. And even that SN people get it confused with mudithu mettu. watch this at 0.54. Both heels down? really? both dancers doing it?

    who does sarakkal with one heel? 1.04-1.06. Two “good” dancers. I didnt know you could give a disclaimer and do convenient things.

    I think i made myself very clear. I dont agree with everything Kalakshetra does. But among confused people with nothing better to choreograph than poses and jathis and abhinaya dominated with diagonal glances and postures with their butts out and swirling their legs to cause their fans to look good between everything, I think Kalakshetra dance by itself focusses much more on the bare minimal needed to convey excellence with restraint (say what now go most choreographer today) much needed for natya dharmi. ASk people to stop jumping around like Harini and start performing dance with Adavus. Not a teermanam like the first one above. Whether the dancer renders it well enough to evoke rasa is left on the individual dancer. But if i were to connect to a rasabhava evoked by alarmel valli vs. say that by a kalakshetra dancer, i would always prefer the latter. Its a personal preference. No way do i say what anyone does is wrong. Shakespere, i hope, didnt include phrases to appease masses. That is what i see as being done with all the dancing SN and other people u seem to like do.

    I think people who refuse to accept differing opinions are idiots. So dont worry about me. I am not insecure about what i feel is right. I am not the official Kalakshetra spokesperson (Sigh! ONly if someone would pay me for something like that!)…All i said was if you think Kalakshetra dancers are robotic, u havent seen any good ones.

    As for Smitha Madhav, I have nothing to say. I watch the first two lines of her jathi stop watching after 0.12. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdwgLIr39g
    I am sorry! I cannot get used to certain things. You can debate about Brahminisation of dance as much as you want, but i just dont relate to Balamma’s style of dancing. So much so that i hope Anirudhdha chooses another profession! Her insights on dancing and margams and stuff are very interesting though.

    I would like to quote what i read somewhere that i thought put into words what i tried to say. A good teacher should be able to prevent the students from mixing their idiosyncracies to the art. Once you start seeing these “redundant” idiosynchracies which loom larger than the ultimate purpose of the dance, rasanubhava, you wince and wonder what is going on. And then you wonder why no one in vazhuvoor agrees how to do what. That is the example of Laissez-faire on part of ev
    ery student. IT is so sad that each one of anita guhas students, no matter whether they perform better than her, are identified as “she dances like medha hari style”…that is the idiosyncrasy of the guru stamped all across. SOmething u accuse RDA of having done. But which is completely acceptable all over the dance field.

    Do let me know why the knee is turned outward.

    p.s. since when do u care about what other people think? Go ahead, post a picture which does not give me reasons to give second thought to your taste….As for affiliating yourself too much with SN/medha hari….It is your choice..remember? u are anonymous!

  22. > both dancers doing it?

    Archana Raja is not. Bang her on her head.

    > who does sarakkal with one heel? 1.04-1.06.

    In this particular instance they do it with one heel, in other instances with both.

    > postures with their butts out

    Yes, it is an error if the butt is out.

    > bare minimal needed to convey excellence with restraint … much needed for natya dharmi

    Since when minimalism is a sign of natya dharmi? Check out, there are 36 glances described in Natya Shastra, and 108 karanas.

    > people to stop jumping around like Harini

    Read the Natya Shastra and see how many utplavanas and bhramaris the dancers are supposed to do.

    > if i were to connect to a rasabhava evoked by alarmel valli vs. say that by a kalakshetra dancer, i would always prefer the latter

    Actually, different kalakshetra dancers evoke different moods, so this generalization is silly.

    > phrases to appease masses

    Appease???

    > people who refuse to accept differing opinions are idiots.

    Very democratic. Whether you accept your dog’s habits or not is not a philosophical question but a matter of teaching it the proper place for toilet.

    I did not say that ALL Kalakshetra dancers are robotic, there are many dancers that I like, for example S.Sahana.

    As for Smitha Madhav, she used to dance much better, and she had more elegance, grace and Shobha. Of course, her style and choreography are simple, you will be bored after watching her more than once a year. She is just a photo model.

    As for Brahminisation, I was not going to debate it, and I don’t relate to Balamma’s style of dancing either.

    > A good teacher should be able to prevent the students from mixing their idiosyncracies to the art.

    Can you elaborate?

    > no matter whether they perform better than her, are identified as “she dances like medha hari style”

    Who is it who dances better than her????? It rained in Chennai! :-)
    Incidentally, “medha hari style” has changed a lot if we compare her 2002 clips with what she does today

    > Do let me know why the knee is turned outward.

    Because normally there is actually a circular movement in the knee before the foot is placed on the floor. There are no really static poses in proper Bharatanatyam, this is what Anitha Guha started ignoring.

    Why are you so jealous of Smitha, SN and Medha? Give me a good picture, I will post. You may affiliate me with all the dancers that I liked and wrote about. The funniest is I am affiliated with a few dancers that I don’t like at all, so this is why I am anonymous! ;-)

  23. Ho HO HO..

    Even if i wanted to, i cant be jealous of smitha. I dont even like her. I like Medha. She is graceful. And so are SN dancers.
    I am not jealous of SN. I just think their whole ” melattur with the kuchipudi flavor” is not what u should be defending or paraphrasing to sound like that is bharatanatyam.

    Me and medha hari…I didnt even write anything against her? Do u even read what i write? :)

    Yeah…The BS also says when to use those 36 glances. If all u want to do is throw diagonal glances and raise your shoulders and sigh for every bhava, u should only be doing kuchipudi items. (sorry if any kuchipudi dancers are reading)

    proper bharatanatyam: hm. Maybe u should write down guidelines as to what constitutes that. BharataShastra is not only for Bharatanatyam. It is the text quoted by all classical dances ( i dont know about manipuri though). Still Odissi and Bharatanatyam are very different, arent they? and what makes them different is that they dont borrow each others flavours and put up a concoction that people like you would support only cos ….actually, i dont understand why u do it…:)

  24. yeah..i dont think Medhas style has ‘changed’. She has grown, has become taller and has different proportion of limbs. So her eyes dont look as big and her aramandi is harder to do. And she has matured so i think she thinks she has to dance withe feelings. Which brings down a lot of explicit things children do. In her case the change is dramatically noticable. But every dancer goes through a phase where you see a performance with more sathvikam and u think i should stop jumping around when it is not necessary. I prefer archana to harini. And i think a lot of people are better than medha. Not to say that medha is not good. It depends on the choreography and the style and execution. I personally prefer Nikithas pune choreography and execution over any of the underappreciated “melattur flavoured with kuchipudi” style choregraphies.

  25. i read something weird right now. Someone has said kuchipudi has its roots in melattur. IS that right? I am tending to believe it cos the shudhdha nriththam on pot that i saw from SN…I was like…wait…isnt that kuchipudi…to dance on a upturned pot…

  26. shudhdha nriththam on pot is an item that Mangudi saw one devadasi perform in a temple.
    The devadasi may not know what “bharatanatyam” is, why would she even bother?

  27. There used to be a million things like Bhagavata Mela of Melattur, and people used to be less bothered by categorizations and classifications.

  28. Of course the style HAS changed, with the exhibitionist ultra-long static poses (disconnected from everything else) occupying half the time.
    Yes, she thinks she has to dance with the “standard (ordinary) adult feelings”, which makes it boring. There is zero sathvikam there.
    Maybe you could explain what you mean by sathvikam and compare it with Bharata Muni’s. Those who don’t read books tend to think that angika abhinaya is the same as satvika abhinaya. Tell me (or show me) the difference between rasa, bhava, hava and hela.

    You keep repeating that a lot of people are better than Medha but you fail to produce any NAMES whenever I asked you. You are bluffing.

    Of course you prefer Nikitha’s choreography because it is… Kalakshetra!!!!! ;-)

  29. I am looking forward to see the pure Kalakshetra guidelines :-)
    Neither me nor Alarmel Valli are particularly concerned what is bharatanatyam and what is odissi and what is bharatanrithyam. Maybe I should rename by blog
    One thing is sure: Kalakshetra is not related to Bharatanatyam. ;-)

  30. a very demanding task for a friday afternoon….sigh! Heres my best.
    Before i start, you and i are never going to agree to Kalakshetra. I can write in detail why certain choreographies are better. Maybe in my blog.
    Appa Rao and Rama Sashtry write, ” Bhava creates rasa. The imagery created on stage with the expression of Bhave produces rasa in the minds of the sympatheitc. BHava is the emotion that creates a sense of enjoyment or experience which in itself is an entity and thaty enjoyment is called rasa”

    If i were to define bhava i would choose, ” The first reaction in a sahridaya due to an immediate cause that excites the latent state of mind is called Bhava”

    So the net result is rasa and is produced by a configuration of the determinant, the consequents and the transitory emotions. This is the (i dont know how) well known rasa sutra.

    Before i go to the alankaras, i would like to state this.

    The sage asked Bharata” How is it that ana ctor is able to present the pleasures and pains of a character (like rama) in a natural wasy without himself having experienced the exact emotions of the character?”
    Bharata replies that it is possible on account of sattva or innate emotional response. sattva is defined as the capability of an individual to bring into being th pleasures and pains experienced by others making them their own. The histrionic expression which depends on sattva is known as saattvika abhinaya or expression through responsive emotional reactions.

    bharata has stated tha tdrama establishes itself on account of saathvika abhinaya and went on to deal with it in Ch. 22 under saamanya abhinaya. If saathvika abhinaya has an equal share with other types of histrionic expression then such a drama is considered to be ordiniary drama. If saathvika predominates such is called superior and if other histrionic expression predominate, that is referred to as inferior drama.

    With this in mind, Lets attempt related Rasa, Bhava, Hava and Hela.

    The following is from NS published by Raga Nrtya series No. 2
    ( NS chapter 24, verses 4,6-11)

    Alankaras (graceful features) should be known by those conversant with Natya as the features and changes in faces and the limbs, *all more prominent* during the youth of ladies. They are supporting factors of rasa.
    bhava (feelings) arise from Sattva that partakes of the nature of the body while Haava (emotion) arises from Bhava and Hela (passion) in turn arises from Haava. Hence feelings, emotions and passions arise from one another since they are only different aspects of Sattva. They are the physical graces of women.

    That which reveals the innermost idea of the poet through words, gestures and facial expressions by the sattva and abhinaya is called Bhava.

    Temparament with excessive feeling manifests itself in relation to persons with opposite sex. And Hava (emotion) should be marked as relating to its various conditions. In this regard Hava should be understood as coming forth from the mind manifesting itself in the vikaras of eyes, eyebrows, and recaka of the neck *giving rise to* sringara rasa (in the minds of the audience).

    Hela (passion) comes forth from the sringara rasa. It is the same as Haava when expressing itself as graceful movements (lalitabhinaya)

    Now, only bcos i quoted texts and interpretations does not make me good. Let me try to put in simple words what i think they are trying to say.

    Take the kshetrayyas padam Vadu evvade (who is he). http://tramesh.tripod.com/kavita/id31.html
    The dancer has to feel anger and delight at the thought of krishna having thrown her a flower when she was resting, in absence of her husband. Lets take anger aspect of it.
    To *feel* having been taken advantage of, or having been treated with unjustified propriety is bhava
    The *interupted emotion* or haava leading to this feeling is anger.
    The *sustained emotion* or *passion* or * obsession* to constantly talk about this incident to her friend and inability to let go of it is hela.
    As a result of this show of anger and delight, the audience and the actor and the composer are supposed to *experience* the *mental* state or *rasa* of sringara (of brief union and separation) , adbhuta (pleasurable), haasya ( smita ) and karuna ( sorry for the heroines helplessness). A good literary work never depends on a single rasa, although the main stay of the work is a particular rasa, in this case sringara.

    Youtube has a Sudharani Raghupati piece of the same.
    But i find it exptremely disappointing. But thats just me. Someday i will write a review on why.

  31. Correction:
    This is the first time i said i think there are many dancers better than Medha. But i stand by it. I would write a review on everyone on my blog and you can see what, why and how much i “lie”.

    My stand on Bharatanatyam dancers is not to judge the dancers. But their understanding of the choreography and the choreography. So i review dances. Not dancers. The first thing i wrote on my blog was i dont think any one dancer is great cos i can find faults with all of them. I think performances are great. Even if it happens to be of a dancer to whose philosophy of thinking i dont agree with. If the dancer is the choreographer my standards are much more higher and disappointments and praise so much more depper and higher.

    As for Kalakshetra. I like them. So much better than other Nritta composers.

  32. Now you say you “think there are many dancers better than Medha”.
    You may imagine whatever you want, but until you give me the concrete names, your imaginations will remain imaginations.

  33. I can write in detail why certain choreographies are better. Maybe in my blog.

    Please do. ;-)

    Appa Rao and Rama Sashtry write, ” Bhava creates rasa. The imagery created on stage with the expression of Bhave produces rasa in the minds”

    It is not the imagery but the Sattva that creates rasa. Perhaps Appa Rao never understood that.

    “of the sympatheitc. BHava is the emotion that creates a sense of enjoyment or experience which in itself is an entity and thaty enjoyment is called rasa”

    It is clear that the authors could not distinguish between bhava and hava. Appa Rao and Rama Sashtry should be cleaning streets instead of attempting to write some garbage.

    If i were to define bhava i would choose, ” The first reaction in a sahridaya due to an immediate cause that excites the latent state of mind is called Bhava”

    What is the latent state of mind? :-)
    If I were to define Bhava, I would say, “The presence of Sattva distinguishes Bhava from Hava. The chaitya purusha (the embodied soul that “learns” experiences) normally is asleep and is not aware of the hava. Only the extraordinarily intense feelings and the experiences that touch our soul are remembered the moment before we die. The essence of these extraordinarily intense feelings stays in the memory of the soul (not the mind) and can be remembered in our future incarnations”.
    In short, an experience you can still remember vividly after 20 years has some Sattva in it.

    Bharata replies that it is possible on account of sattva or innate emotional response

    “Innate emotional response” = empathy
    To understand anything really well and remember it for long, our mind needs awareness (Sattva). A fast learner who has a brilliant memory has a lot of Sattva.

    By observing one’s own mind, one can detach oneself from one’s feelings and emotions and thoughts. At this point one notices that “our” feelings and thoughts are actually not “ours”: they are like wind, come mostly from the outside. Normal people are like puppets: the strings are the emotions and thoughts. Devas and the lower spirits are said to drive people like cattle by using these strings. To reach the full Moksha is to be no longer a slave of these folks.

    The next step after detaching is passive control (when our purusha is able to give or deny permission for our thoughts or feelings to occur), then comes the active control, when purusha can originate feelings and thoughts and direct them.

    The histrionic expression which depends on sattva is known as saattvika abhinaya or expression through responsive emotional reactions.

    How does saattvika abhinaya differ from angika (including the mukhaja) abhinaya?

    If saathvika predominates such is called superior and if other histrionic expression predominate, that is referred to as inferior drama.

    Have you ever seen a superior production?

    Alankaras (graceful features) should be known by those conversant with Natya as the features and changes in faces and the limbs, *all more prominent* during the youth of ladies. They are supporting factors of rasa.

    That’s the point: hardly any senior dancers manage to keep any alankaras at all. Like a flower withering loses its colours and fragrance, so do most actors lose their expressive graces with time. The reason you didn’t like Sudharani is that she now has almost zero alankaras. She is a scam artiste, and tries to defraud the audience.

    bhava (feelings) arise from Sattva that partakes of the nature of the body

    Wonderful quote. I wish you understood at least 5% of what you quote.
    OK, let me help. :-)
    The more Sattvik our body is, the easier it will be for our mind to be more Sattvik too.
    The bodies before reaching puberty are predominantly Sattvik. Then, in most cases, they become Rajasic. After the childbirth they are normally Tamasic. Remarkable dancers like Alarmel Valli manage to maintain their bodies highly Sattvik (the diet alone will not help).

    The question: how many other adult dancers have predominantly Sattvik bodies?

    Conclusion: it is mostly when the dancers are children (before puberty) that they can express Sattva. Full stop.

    feelings, emotions and passions arise from one another since they are only different aspects of Sattva. They are the physical graces of women.

    In other words, the women who lack the physical graces cannot claim to be able to produce any Sattva-based feelings, right?

    Temparament with excessive feeling manifests itself in relation to persons with opposite sex.

    It should be “Extraordinarily powerful feeling (Bhava) manifests…”
    Can you explain to me why “in relation to persons with opposite sex”?
    Did you read http://knol.google.com/k/nandini/sringara-rasa-the-most-intimate-secret/ ? ;-)

    To *feel* having been taken advantage of, or having been treated with unjustified propriety is bhava

    No, it is merely Hava, not Bhava.

    The *sustained emotion* or *passion* or * obsession* to constantly talk about this incident to her friend and inability to let go of it is hela.

    Nonsense, my dear, nonsense.

  34. ladies!!
    reading all ur comments makes my mind wobble in different directions. being a young dancer its confusing to know what or which is the right bharathanatyam form??? it has been exploited, improvised and i dare say branded (Kalakshetra, Kalamandalam, Padma Subramanyam style, etc)

    Looking back at the origins and scriptures, the karanas and other revealetions indicate very simple movements which today is shown as complex and restructured in the name of innovation. We get varnams in thematic format now a days :D (no offence on the gr8 choreography) but what happen to the original version with jathis?? this is fading (not dying coz some still retain this format) trend.

    Bharathanatyam now a days is been suited to the audience taste and expectation rather than for the passion of it. Although the devadasi trend ws quite rigid or unclean (as mentioned), the grace and poise was still visible. If anyone has seen Smt Rukmini Devi’s performance on Youtube, ages ago, it was rigid alright even for a quire eye, but it was still beautiful. This same lady, when conducting classes at Kalakshetra decades later was stressing on firmness and neat adavus. She realised the areas that needed to be straightened out and made beautiful. But these days, when gurus stress on neatness and clean adavus, u get robots dancing on stage. Literally, their movements are so straight and stiff that it loses the natural touch to it. The element has been over stressed. Nothing should be perfectly clean, it would look odd.

    Expressions are in built and need to be brought out. U can never immitate exactly, copy or be taught to emote. Teachers like Mrs Kalanidhi help to bring out those expressions in you. Watchin others emote and the lyrics should craete the abhinayas within you to be expressed. A sense of poetry knowledge is quite essential at this level. It does not neccesarily be Tamil, Sanskrit, etc. it can be english poetry as well. It is whats inside that comes out. abhinaya can never be forced.

    Bharathanatyam has become sort of commercialised and in the process of loosing its originality (ref some dancers and gurus). And sad to say this is mostly happening in the its original roots, India. The indians abroad and dancers from other backgrounds have more appreciation to the ancient art form and see it as perfect as it is…..without experimentation (as done by many).

    The world of bharathanatyam is wide and needs more exploration rather than exploitation. Criticisesing anothers performance and throwing direct black remarks is purely unethical. As dancers, we have self respect and should show the same respect to our fellow dancers. remember, what goes round will come round. Criticising one performance is good, but your critics should lead them to improve rather and condem.

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