Wednesday 7 May 2014

Seen & Heard by Lakshmi Viswanathan - Dance Drama

The term ‘dance drama’ is peculiar to Indian classical dance, particularly Bharatanatyam. The core idea of combining dance with a purely theatrical performance in which a story unfolds with each character played by a different actor can be traced to the Natya Sastra, at least for the sake of dating it. Ancient Sanskrit theatre subscribed to this concept, in which not only dance but also music played a vital role. Theatrical space was as important in ancient India as costume and make up. Writing for that classical theatre art known as NATYA was the challenge met by several medieval Sanskrit dramatists and poets. In Tamil Nadu, as early as the time of Raja Raja Chola, Natakams in which women also participated took place in the temples. Raja Raja Natakam and Manmatha Natakam were enacted in the Brihadeeswara temple.

In the early twentieth century of rediscovering many lost performance disciplines, new forms emerged to suit urban audiences. In Tamil Nadu, the star innovator was Rukmini Devi who had seen ballet with a story line while traveling abroad. She looked for a suitable parallel to stage in her own institution. She found the Bhagavatamela natakams replete with music, narrative and dance ideal to adapt. She also found the old Kuravanji natakams interesting to adapt. With her own inputs in stage craft she began her journey in ‘dance drama’ productions.

Read the article in the site

1 comment:

  1. Iyal,Isai and Natakam were part of the South Indian culture and they did not play much of a role in a classical style in the Vedic culture although there were numerous mentions of the celestial dancers like Maneka and Urvasi in the Vedas.For many thousands of years, it was the temple residing and highly acomplished Deva Dasis in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, who preserved ,maintained and also developed the musical dance forms of the classical stories with sponsorships coming from the Kings themselves.