Thursday, 14 April 2022

Prism - Gender study through Nayika Bheda as applied in Indian dance tradition - Srabani Basu

 (Srabani Basu started writing this article as part of the 'Indian Classical Dance Pedagogy' certification program that she has done from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2021. She continues to develop it with further studies for research aspirations.)

India is a country from south-east Asia that preserves an ancient yet rich cultural heritage of literature and performing arts going back to over two thousand years. This format of art that hail from different parts of the country consisting various styles of music as well as dance, have been refined and restructured post India's independence from British rule in the 20th century. These are recognized as Indian classical art forms and are dedicatedly practiced in the 'Guru-Shishya Parampara' or the teacher-disciple tradition. This tradition is predominantly influenced from Natya Shastra, which is an encyclopaedic treatise on the performing arts [1][2] written in Sanskrit by sage Bharata dated between 200BCE and 200CE [3][4].The text consists of 36 chapters with a cumulative total of 6000 poetic verses. The subjects covered by the treatise include dramatic composition, structure of a play and the construction of a stage to host it, genres of acting, body movements, make up and costumes, role and goals of an art director, the musical scales, musical instruments and the integration of music with art performance [5][6]. The Natya Shastra is also notable for its aesthetic 'Rasa' theory asserting entertainment as just a secondary goal of performing arts while primary goal being to transport the audience to a parallel reality experiencing own consciousness and reflecting on spiritual values [7][8]. The grammar or technicalities of Indian classical dance is primarily derived from Natya Shastra, while its choreographic elaborations on abhinaya or expressional aspects are largely influenced by episodes from mythological epics such as 'The Ramayana', 'The Mahabharata', literary creations by poets Kalidasa, Jayadeva as well as numerous regional folklores.

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