Malavika Sarukkai: her disastrous lecture-demonstration that revealed a lot of what Bharatanatyam and classical dances of India are not to become.

Malavika Sarukkai

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Based on a report emailed to us by Latha Sundaravalli – and expanded with further research that proves Latha’s initial perceptions. If you want, you can compare the below report with the Narthaki.com and The Hindu versions

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Her DVD

I would like to share my observations on the first day (12th September) of the National Seminar in Classical Dances organized by Saila Sudha’s “Academy of Excellence in Bharathanatyam & Kuchipudi” (where only mediocre dance students are learning – from a mediocre teacher who has to advertise her dance classes on Kutcheribuzz classifieds). Kucheribuzz reporters don’t even consider Kuchipudi as a classical dance: “Sailaja began this series last year with the focus on Kuchipudi dance. This year, the focus was on classical dances.” Moreover, as you will read below, Leela Venkatraman was convincing us that Odissi is not a classical dance at all.

Not particularly interested in the speeches, I – like many others – arrived at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan at 10.45 as the brochure marked this as the starting time for Malavika Sarukkai’s lecture-demonstration on “Tradition- Transition-Transformation“. As was to be expected, Sri M.A.Babu, a Minister for Education and Culture of Kerala, was speaking till 11.10, enormously taxing the audience’s patience who were drinking coffee outside and wondering if this was the “token of gratitude” which Sailaja had to pay for having her group dance at the dumb Babu’s Nishagandhi Dance and Music festival in Kerala earlier this year.

Having watched Malavika Sarukkai for the past two decades, I was hoping to see some kind of explanation of how classical dancers can so innocently drift into the waters of Kathak, folk dance, modern western dance and computer-animated “dance”. My expectation from a lecture-demonstration was a normal one: the points outlined in the lecture have to be demonstrated in the demonstration. As the topic of the Seminar suggested, I expected to hear some concrete points outlining the tradition, the transition, hoping to pinpoint the transformation. Malavika Sarukkai started by urging everyone to switch off their cell phones and refrain from taking videos of her. She then delivered some abstract cliches, and then proceeded to dancing a nritta piece that left me wondering. Wondering what was that “sheer geometry of lines and precise structural “beauty“”! I was wondering not so much if araimandi is indeed “optional” when danced by “professional dancers”,

but rather why some dancers like Malavika cannot do recakas, even though both Bharata Muni and Abhinavagupta said that there is no dance without recakas. So, why would dancers want to learn karate (is this what she learnt in Europe or America?) or the stiff dances like the one from this video. “Try telling her that her dance has problems, and you are dead”, was a remark of an old rasika who was vainly trying to perceive any traces of talukku and kulukku in her dance.

Is the minimalism of Kalakshetra the latest fad? Malavika is not alone in being “a minimalist; she likes to say as little as possible while using the Bharatanatyam vocabulary in a frugal mannerI don’t subscribe to the theory that the a geometrically regular black triangle on the white canvas can in some way be considered as a great piece of art. How would we have known about our dance forms today, had not the Devadasis preserved them for us?” , says Malavika blissfully unaware that the devadasis danced the margi, karana-based, dance because it is only this kind of dance – unlike jazz or folksy Bharatanatyam – that is entitled to be called “spiritual”. Malavika stressed the importance of imparting beauty to each movement. However hard I tried to see any traces of Lakshmi’s imprint, I could not. In my mind, there appeared images of some dancers, the young and the senior ones, such as Alarmel Valli.  I realised that a movement can be filled with beauty if the dancer is truly relaxed, enjoys herself, as if admiring her body, while delicately elaborating the finer nuances of every single movement, turning it into an elegant, effortless and sophisticated expression that is, most importantly, filled with love and joy of offering it to a deity. Essentially, it is a matter of attitude. The attitude that Malavika lost after doing too many performances for foreign audiences and ugly politicians.

Some Hindu illiterate critics, like Malini White, display their ignorance of the Natya terms (e.g. what is sattva) when they write nonsense like this: the angle of elbow, stance of the foot, the slight inclination from the waist — that made concrete the satvic dimension Sarukkai so values in classical dance Malavika Sarukkai stressed the essential difference between performing mudras mechanically and performing them with a mental “intent” to lend them some “spiritual” power. Either this intent was not there or I did not notice it for some reason.

In this connection, I recollected a story of a man and a brahmin priest. The man paid the brahmin to perform a puja for a newly purchased car. The next day the car got into a terrible traffic accident and the owner was killed on the spot. His wife filed an FIR against the brahmin for “fraud and deficiency in service” and demanded a compensation, which was of course much more pragmatic than Adi Sankara fighting against empty ritualism. Coming back to Malavika’s idea that as long as one imagines something it will surely happen, our personal imagination is, quite on the contrary, most often confined to the realm of our own mind and has no effect whatsoever outside it. Many people with strong imaginations end up – for some reasons – in mental asylums. I remember one person asking Malavika if performing a Jnana mudra would indeed give her any kind of knowledge she wants. You can imagine what embarrassment it caused. While the spiritual effects of the mudras are very clearly described by many scriptures, I am yet to see if any dancer at all can in fact produce any such effects.

Malavika Sarukkai spoke about the importance of placing the Art above the artiste. Yet the nritta fragment, that lacked both the slow and the fast speeds, was filled with tons of stiff ostentatious theatricality and tawdry showiness. Finally, the dancer struck a flashy pose obviously imported from the western dance. “Hello! I am here, look at ME and admire ME. Aren’t you impressed with ME?“, the pose and the expression could not shout louder. Following another dose of generic cliches, Malavika said that everything boils down to one thing: rasa. As a demonstration, a piece portraying Yudhisthira hunting the deers was presented. Remarkably, both Yudhisthira and the deer were moving in much the same manner. If Seetharama Sarma’s sollukattus alone were intended to bring out the Veera rasa, they failed to do it too.

Next, Malavika Sarukkai presented a demo, based on Swathi Thirunal’s composition, that was supposed to bring out the Sringara rasa (see our previous post) and Bhakti. While the singing of the Sanscrit slokas as a prelude did perhaps create some basic atmosphere of sanctity, the karate-like “movements of great beauty” in Malavika’s dance didn’t create any beauty there. If any rasika indeed tasted any Sringara rasa in her demo, I would like to know who it was, and how exactly it happened. Malavika showed her instinctive (or rather, post-traumatic) avoidance of the Sringara in this: “In terms of colour, my costume has changed — from the bright colours with contrasting borders to muted shades” , which is perfectly normal: our pranic body grows more and more dull as we are aging. This is not the first time a dancer, totally unaware of what Sringara is and how it should be expressed, tries to present it on the stage. Not everybody is fooled easily: “A young dancer was dismissive, “Malavika’s abhinaya has no heart.””

Malavika apologized for lack of time to do the demonstration of an item dedicated to… trees and Thimakka. Instead, she took her time to speak that since that woman was barren, she planted hundreds of trees and called them her own children. Even though she confessed, “I simply loved Hrithik in Jodhaa Akbar”, Malavika says she liked the Thimmakka tree item because it was not “man-centric” and did not require any Sringara. I was surprised that nayaki – at least in this ultra-feminist interpretation – did not require any nayaka, defeating the very purpose of the spiritual symbolism where nayaka was actually to signify the Paramatma. I had an odd impression as if she was speaking of her own personal life, godless, miserable, bitter and forlorn (you see in our next post how it made Swarnamukhi convert to Christianity and “settle down”).a trigger is required to set the soul on its quest and, in Varasthri’s case, it is the death of a little girl she has known and loved. This was suggested by a personal loss in Malavika’s life”. Perhaps, this explains why her voice sounds as if she had been sobbing and weeping for weeks. “the courtesan finds release from a male dominated world when she reaches the ‘genderless’ space of spirituality. In the action however, what triggers the courtesan’s search for spiritual comfort is the grief of losing a child she loves dearly“.

I looked around and saw billions of materialistic Jivatmas, obsessed with their personal tragedies, dreaming of a happy, socially correct life without a masculist, oppressive and immoral Paramatma in the picture. How can a chronically depressed dancer, like Michael Jackson, transmit any joy and bliss to the rasikas? In the same way as a cripple can take part in the rescue operations in the flooded Andhra, or a schizophrenic politician governing India. Well, that’s Kali Yuga. Trees are not the only substitute objects for atheist Malavika whose defective materialistic brain doesn’t even understand that the Ganga which flows from the Nataraja’s head has nothing to do with the well-known big stream of dirty water in north India: Some of the crowning moments of the recital comprised Ganga’s lamentation “Punar pavitra karega kaun” at the impurities that weighed her waters, constricting her flow.” What hastha did she use for a lonely sanitary napkin agonisingly floating there? “her (Malavika’s) deep affinity with the river whose never-ending manifestations can rival the eternally unpredictable nayika of classical dance”, wrote the modernized Leela Venkatraman, reviewing the ‘Pakistani Pig” in the next paragraph. Well-tuitored piglets from The Hindu can say any nonsense to fill their purses.

A brief questions-and-answer session followed, when Malavika Sarukkai was answering a few simple questions. I didn’t want to embarrass her by asking to demonstrate, for example, the difference between the Satvika and the Angika abhinaya in the context of “Tradition-Transition-Transformation”. One student asked her how she managed to “steer clear of the celluloid“. (Perhaps she referred to the fact that no film maker was inspired to create a wonderful movie with Malavika in a dancing role!) Malavika replied that the flashiness of the movies – with their stress on seductiveness – desensitize our perceptions. While there was some truth in what she said, I tried to imagine how Malavika would portray apsara Menaka seducing Vishvamitra, and I couldn’t. It was as beyond my imagination as imagining the current Queen of England seducing 1000000 eunuchs in India.

The panel discussion was started by Leela Venkataraman, who wrote, “guru objected to her ‘Revealed by Fire’ being a personal trauma put on stage. Watching shows evolved out of personal experiences, some comment that it amounts to self indulgence and they did not come to see a highlighting of someone’s personal tragedy.While some identify many elements from a work as reflected in their own lives, others feel the artiste is trying to project herself as a tragedy queen.

Leela Venkataraman delivered no abstract cliches. Seeing a notorious scandalist V A K Ranga Rao towering in the first row and rubbing his fists readying to start a fight, she did not wish to create any controversies among the mostly Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi aficionados present in the auditorium. In Ranga Rao’s own first lec-dem about Dance in Cinema” he “demolishes the shibboleths erected by educated charlatans and doctored ignoramuses with logic irrefutable“. Seeing formidable blockhead VIPs, Leela wisely chose Odissi as the subject, saying that she could not define what Bharatanatyam is or was, rolling her eyes, staring into the ceiling and blinking much more frequently than she usually does. Strange, as most rasikas would not find it so problematic.

Within about 15 minutes, she pinpointed with amazing deftness the concrete historic facts and elements that created the contemporary Odissi half a century ago. Leela stressed that the nucleus of the Odissi is something inherent to Orissa itself, the local spirit and the local idiom, something intangible and not definable. Strange, as I thought that Odissi’s essence was the Kaisiki vritti as stated in the Natya Shastra.

Leela masterfully outlined the initial routes the development of the contemporary Odissi took, described how particular elements (from Kathak, folk dance, the Gotipuyas’, and what not) were added at what stage and under what circumstances. She reminded us that it is only when Odissi started appearing in the context of the theatre that it acquired the social acceptance, recognition and eventually, popularity. Has something like that happened to Bharatanatyam, or has Bharatanatyam already missed the train? Leela approved the efforts of Nrityagram to incorporate Chhau leg movements into their “Odissi”. She concluded by trying to persuade us that, despite the initial rejection, Ramli Ibrahim’s creations eventually managed to be “accepted” by the Odissi dancers in Orissa.

Aruna Bikshu tried to make a point that “With change in content (like social issues), body kinetics have changed and so have the aesthetics” of Kuchipudi. What she meant to say is that since the dancers no longer were dealing with mythological personalities called “gods” (we know, all the Vedas and everything else are just myths, and Krishna is a figment of imagination of some crazy medieval writers), the moment they started portraying tractors or condoms or plastic bottles they began moving like Malavika Sarukkai does. And when Vempatti Chinna Sathyam removed the Vachika abhinaya from Kuchipudi, he did not realize that automatically he was removing the most powerful medium for the dancers to learn Satvika abhinaya. Now the dancers’ overall abhinaya is as convincing as some 5-year-old’s political speech in defence of Taliban. Another Odissi “innovation” was pinpointed by Madhavi Mudgal: “The dancer also had to be in chowka position throughout, but that’s not in vogue anymore because it’s difficult“.It seems that simplifying everything has been the slogan of the past 50 years: now everyone in a wheelchair can consider herself a classical dancer: it’s no difficult anymore!

It is amusing that a few individuals, who prefer to be called senior dancers and senior critics, imagine that their “elite” opinions alone somehow determine how Bharatanatyam or Odissi is “accepted”, while their names are either unknown or vaguely recollected by 95% of the contemporary Bharatanatyam and Odissi dancers who don’t ever read the Friday Reviews or attend “National” seminars (with 50 local attendees) or ever get mentioned by the press or featured on TV. While the top of an iceberg may imagine it determines its course, in reality it is the bulk of the iceberg, hidden under the water, that is driven by the ocean currents – regardless of what does Malavika Sarukkai .


20 thoughts on “Malavika Sarukkai: her disastrous lecture-demonstration that revealed a lot of what Bharatanatyam and classical dances of India are not to become.

  1. Thanks for publishing.
    Lalitha Venkat of Narthaki.com rejected my report as “hostile”.

    Today I perused articles on Narthaki and found that publishing of the “newest” one (that Lalitha allegedly wrote on July 18 – 24 but has been unable to publish it before 16 Sept) on http://narthaki.com/info/articles/art254.html was most likely provoked by my report:

    A big problem in true reporting is, no one wants to write about controversies. The most popular excuse is, “I want to write, but I can’t.” Either you write about such things rudely and be ostracized, or you make compromises, hold back on your evaluation and stay on. The writer may not like to do it, but is forced to. This is one of the main difficulties faced by a critic… Even more difficult is the criticism of very senior artistes who take umbrage and who one does not want to bring down in stature. How to treat these dancers in criticism, is far more difficult and a delicate job.

  2. Person sees in the world only what is already exist inside of him or her. I wish Latha to be beautiful and light inside, to see the beauty of the great world we live in and share this beauty with people throuth her upcoming reports and thoughts!

  3. Your criticism of Malavika Sarukkai (whose work I admire) should concentrate on technical aspects, I feel, rather than becoming unduly personal. That way, rasikas and dancers will be more inclined to accept and learn from what you say, which is actually quite informative once the invective is weeded out. A question (applying to several of your articles): why are you so averse to classical Indian dance being performed for ‘ignorant foreigners’ like myself? Beauty and profundity belong to the whole world, and ‘foreign’ appreciation of Indian art and culture is to be welcomed as a way of spreading their very important message. Having said this, I would like to add that I find your reviews valuable and insightful, if a little acerbic. I apprectiate your concern for maintaining the purity and classicism of the dance, and its spiritual energy. With kind regards.

  4. why are you so averse to classical Indian dance being performed for ‘ignorant foreigners’ like myself?

    Because they concentrate on broad technical aspects too much. Since you speak of technical aspects, ok, we can speak of satvika abhinaya, and of tejas. Can either of these be captured by a camera made in Japan?

    rasikas and dancers will be more inclined to accept and learn from what you say

    It depends on their level of arrogance and their sense of humour.

    profundity belong to the whole world

    The Divine Beauty does not belong to this world. People tend to imagine too much. The influence of Lakshmi and numerous nymphs varies depending on the location (and in South India it is felt the most intense). It is a matter of spiritual perception, not a matter of political/philosophical slogans like “Beauty belongs to the entire world”.
    As for “profundity, what kind of it? Any avatars (or at least saints) spotted in South Africa, eh? At least one? No?

  5. Thank you for your response. I hope my message did not seem arrogant; that was not the intention. But it is hard to find anything humorous in a personal attack on a dancer.

    It is true that I can’t think of any avatars ‘spotted in South Africa’, but I do know many holy people who live here and appreciate the spiritual and cultural gifts of India. I have visited India, and did not spot any avatars there either, to be honest. But I did find many holy people.

    Indian dance has been a deep source of joy and upliftment for me and many others who understand the inner meaning and experience of moksha. That is why I believe it is to be shared with all the world.

    All good wishes to you, Ashwini.

  6. I watched Malavika performing for students and teachers. She is one of the best dancers of Bharatanatyam I’ve ever watched. The criticism above seems to be prejudiced, judging her art from the viewpoint of the “so found” oddities in her personality. The art must be separated from the individual. What for are you there without being a “Sahridaya”?

  7. it is hard to find anything humorous in a personal attack on a dancer.

    Sarcasm is a condensed and destructive form of humour, and one of Kali’s name is Attahasayuta. The dancer deserves it.

    I do know many holy people

    How do you know they are holy? What makes them holy? How holy are they?

  8. Dear Ashwini: you speak above about Malavika’s ‘defective materialistic brain.’ That does not seem to be a separation between the art and the individual.

    What is holy? Well, let’s use the language of the Beautiful Dance: the ‘bhava’ of holiness is shunyata-moksha, selfless bliss in merging with the deity; its ‘abhinaya’ is kindness, ahimsa; its ‘rasa’ is peace and anand.

    In another article you speak about ‘the pseudo-culture of the west’, as though the world were divided between east and west, and as though the west is one thing. If, by pseudo-culture you mean materialism and superficiality, that kind of thing is not culture at all, and is found as much in India as elsewhere. My Teacher always taught me that culture is being a wholesome human being, and that kind of culture is found everywhere, also in the west.

    I think one should remember that the decay of the devadasi system was not caused by factors outside of India, but was the result of human corruption that is universal. We can only be grateful to heroines such as Rukminidevi Arundel and Protima Gauri for rescuing the dance in the face of strong hostility from elements within Indian society.

    Yes, I do think that sattvika abhinaya can be transmitted with good camera-work. Perhaps more so than in a live performance where a rasika seated 50 metres away from the dancer cannot see the finer abhinaya expressions on the dancer’s face, and so forth. But I would agree that filmed performances are not optimal. The best would be an intimate environment with a small, well-educated audience.

    I think that your articles are valuable and insightful, and as long as you continue writing them, I’ll keep reading them.

  9. That does not seem to be a separation between the art and the individual.

    The individual is the lens through which something higher (art?) can be transmitted. The bigger our ego, the more distorted the image will be. Chitta suddhi is a step towards purification of one’s mind. Many children below 10 have quite a high degree of chitta suddhi, and their egos are not sharply defined. Without chitta suddhi, the light will be darkened by the dancer’s past traumas, frustrations, etc.

    Well, let’s use the language of the Beautiful Dance: the ‘bhava’ of holiness is shunyata-moksha, selfless bliss in merging with the deity

    This is actually not an answer to my question. To me, a person spiritual stature is something tangible. If you look at our sculptures, the greater size corresponds to the greater level of consciousness. The bigger the ego, the smaller the stature.

    its ‘abhinaya’ is kindness

    So it was out of sheer kindness that Arjuna finished off his grandpa and guru?🙂 Ananda can be of 3 kinds, including the ananda of Mahakala..

    the world were divided between east and west

    Of course, the world is divided into more chunks, but we can clearly distinguish the materialistic and rationalisticEuropean influence (which is basically some heathen customs mixed with the Greek culture and spoiled by a good dose of the Semitic influence). There was an experiment: they compared how the Europeans and the Asians look at the same picture. The Asians’ eyes moved in a completely opposite pattern from the Europeans. The Europeans tried to single out the most important objects and were focussing on them. The Asians’ eyes kept shifting from the central object(s) to the peripheral details, establishing the context. It means, the Europeans try to understand an object regardless of the context, which means that the “western” culture is inferior. Culture is something that is mostly imbibed subconsciously. To say that culture is “being a wholesome human being” is to say nothing.

    I think one should remember that the decay of the devadasi system was not caused by factors outside of India

    The Muslims and the British were the major contributing factors.

    We can only be grateful to heroines such as Rukminidevi Arundel and Protima Gauri for rescuing the dance in the face of strong hostility from elements within Indian society.

    They had a historic mission to accomplish, and they fulfilled it. It doesn’t mean we should glorify them. We have to develop further.

    I do think that sattvika abhinaya can be transmitted with good camera-work

    Camera can capture only the movements of the body (angika). Let me know when your camera can capture emotions or ideas, or at least a current of prana.🙂 When you watch a recorded performance and can feel the dancer’s sattvika abhinaya, it is not because the camera captured some subtle detail but because your mind managed to establish a good connection with the past event in the world of thought (where the past and the future exist together), so you can feel as if you were present there. Camera work can be conducive to it, of course.

  10. I just love the idea that cultures based on rational thinking are inferior! If you think the ‘west’ is rational, you must be thinking of another ‘west’ that I don’t know about.

    I find it hard to think of any culture as inferior to any other. And then, of course, India is not an ‘eastern’ country. It’s an Indo-aryan western civilization.

    The devadasi system went into decline long before either the British or the Mughals got to India. It was already in decline just after the Cholan period.

    Well I don’t see why a bit of prana can’t be captured on camera. It depends where the camera is made. If it’s made in India, under the influence of irrationalism, it should absorb prana quite well.

    Ok, so, in your opinion, who ARE the good bharatanatyam and odissi exponents? And, IS Kathak a classical dance?

  11. By “rational”, I meant the way people perceive things (discreet and linear, without a context). In the East, people first try to understand the whole in its entirety. So the western “democratic” idea that everybody is equal is a fallacy. If you define what is culture, you will not find it hard to think of a culture as inferior to some others. For example, cannibalism and human sacrifice are features of the lowest (animal) “cultures”.

    Ok, so, in your opinion, who ARE the good bharatanatyam and odissi exponents?

    You need to read my blog again!
    IS Kathak a classical dance?
    Yes, it is a classical Persian court dance.

  12. You need to enquire more deeply into the history and development of Graeco-Roman-Byzantine culture before making such sweeping generalizations. It’s a big subject, and it would only become tedious to try to argue it out here. Western thinking is very well acquainted with non-linear contextual perception.

    I agree that eating other people is very bad manners, but I was referring to the civilized cultures of the world. My idea on people is that they are not all equal in attainment, but should all be treated with equal compassion and respect.

    I agree with what you say about Kathak, which was the point I was making.

    The reason I am asking about good exponents of Bharatanatyam and Odissi is that I want to buy about 10 -20 DVD’s of excellent performances. If you can assist me in identifying these I would be very grateful. I would have to order them direct from India. I plan to visit India again next year (specifically to attend performances of Odissi and Bharatanatyam) but would like to get these DVD’s sooner than that.

    All good wishes to you!

  13. the history and development of Graeco-Roman-Byzantine culture before making such sweeping generalizations.

    The generalizations are of course sweeping. I do know the history pretty well. Culture is what distinguishes the man from the ape, in addition to the anatomy/genes. On the one hand, there are nudist beaches in Europe where people have control over their instincts. On the other hand, there are Afgani women who are raped regardless of whether they are wearing a burqa or not.

    should all be treated with equal compassion and respect.

    God has indeed 2 kinds of love (it has to do with the duality of the Nirguna Brahman vs Saguna Brahman, the Formless vs the Form). One is the kind of equal compassion that supports everything regardless of its quality. The other is his special love that he dispenses depending on how perfectly something manifests His qualities.
    As for compassion, remember what happened to Atlantis?

    If you can assist me in identifying these I would be very grateful.

    I will email you the list (I am not yet very good at judging Odissi, by the way). Meanwhile, there is a lot of fuzzy stuff on YouTube for you to watch.🙂

  14. Yah, the fuzzy stuff on Utube is exactly what I don’t want to watch:-)

    I Have about 21 DVD’s including Bharatanatyam performances by Lata/Geeta, Kalakshetra dancers doing Tillana, an extensive performance by Anita Ratnam (sometimes too experimental for my taste, too much fabric and dupatta), Bharatanrityam by you-know-who, Mridula and Praveen, Apsaras Group, Sarasalaya students, Chandralekha’s Group, Sudharani Ragupathy (too old); and Odissi (most of the repertoire) by Surupa Sen, Bijoyini Satpathi, Sujata Mohapatra (good), Kavita Dwibedi (very good), and Mohiniattam by Nandita Prabhu and Deepti Omchery Bhalla, as well as Kathakali etc. But I realy relate more personally to Bharatanatyam and Odissi. I’d like new, dynamic performances, very pure and classical in structure, and with… prana…

    Thanks for being willing to help with the list.

  15. Very interesting discussion!
    I am a dance lover and sculptor and have lived seven years in Pune in india, saw a lot of live performances there and in europe.
    Vigyano.

  16. Perhaps roebert would love to see archival performances of Indrani doing both Bharatnatyam and Odissi. May be just what he’s looking for.

  17. again, the nuance of western inferiority, which i am happy to take light-heartedly … no, my allegiance is not with indrani, but with schools like kalakshetra for bharatanatyam, and nrityagram for odissi … of course there are many wonderful and subtle variations from the various purist schools of both traditions, and these are a pleasure to enjoy in their elegance and subtle spirituality … my view is that dance, in its highest expression, is a form of tantric practise ( as it was also in classical greek dance-drama), so my preference is not for ‘popularised’ versions … and certainly not for adulterated forms … read my novel, ‘the odissi girl’ someday, and you will perhaps understand what i mean …

  18. This is a silly remark. My appreciation of Indian Classical Dance is not in the category of Indrani, as should be clear from my comments above. If you want to see a fuller argument for the ‘western rasika’, see my response on Anita Ratnam’s blog. If you just want to make me look ridiculous to show off your own ‘expertise’, then go ahead and have your fun. I really no longer have patience with this kind of bigotry. And, yes, avtaars have appeared outside of India, only they did not appear in the West wearing Indian garments and speaking Sanskrit.

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