Sunday 6 April 2014

Seen & Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan - Research and Re-creation in Dance

For me, the formal and informal performance history of Bharatanatyam elicits more fascination than ritual dances. Ritual has its limitations on the stage. Like the Kauttuvams. Interesting visuals they may be, but for me they have no soul when taken out of context.

The charm of old Palace repertoire is unbeatable. I recall with utmost pleasure my interview with Pandanallur Jayalakshmi decades ago. Imagine if one were to speak to a performer who had danced the Dhanike Todi ragam varnam in the presence of Sivaji maharaja of Tanjavur! The varnam was composed in praise of him.... Such was my excitement to hear Jayalakshmi reminiscing about a rare varnam when I visited her in the late seventies. She sang the varnam composed exclusively for her by Meenakshisundaram Pillai. In raga Vachaspathi, it is in praise of her husband, the Sethupathy or Raja of Ramnad. I have written more about this meeting in my book. I had also seen pictures of mural paintings of court dancers of the 18th century in the Ramanathapuram palace taken by my good friend V.K. Rajamani. They were testimony to an active royal and music programs attended by the king.  It was not difficult to understand that that kingdom was a seat of music and dance, second only to Tanjavur. I think such varnams are historically important and their worth is not diminished simply because modern India decried royalty and abolished princely states. 

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1 comment:

  1. Akka, I'm overwhelmed by your compliments. All the more because you are a scholar and artiste with great taste and love for the hereditary forms. I'm inspired to do more and do better, thanks to the wishes of artistes like you, I'm feeling responsible towards my commitment.