Bharata Natyam is one of the seven classical Indian dance forms. And it is identified as an expression of the "great tradition" that evolved from the earliest concert repertoire of the style of dance, known as sadir/dasi-attam from southern India. The name ''Bharata Natyam'' was adopted only in 1933 -- though the dance has, for centuries, been associated with the Hindu temple complexes and courts of south India (specially in Tamil Nadu and parts of Karnataka). The 20th century, however, has witnessed a striking transition in the cultural life and its patronage -- the transition from the temple towns to cosmopolitan cities, from regional to national, and now international forums. In barely sixty years, Bharata Natyam has become an internationally respected classical art. And accomodating itself to new venues and the demands of modern media, new themes, new techniques, and new methods of staging are being gradually introduced. Bharata Natyam today, thus, flourishes in a completely new context!
This book describes the evolution of Bharata Natyam from an esoteric temple ritual to an artistic presentation performed in theatres -- against the backdrop of the "changes" that the dance has undergone over its nearly 2000-year-old history. Herself a specialist and performer of Bharata Natyam, Dr Gaston here explores the perceptions of these changes by dancers, teachers, critics and rasikas (knowledgeable enthusiasts) -- in her final effort to underscore the context in which Bharata Natyam was, and was presented, and the conditions under which Bharata Natyam is now created and valued.
In studying the many facets of the dance, Dr Gaston has explored the development of contemporary Bharata Natyam through the experiences and opinions of those who have practised, taught and criticised the art. She has tried to juxtapose their comments with her own observations of how the dance is disseminated and performed, and to place them against a wider background of social currents flowing through present-day Indian society.
Anne-Marie Gaston, Oxford University''s Ph.D (Sociology of Arts), is an academic, internationally reputed performer of Bharata Natyam, and author of several widely acclaimed books. Currently, she is Research Associate (Music) in the School for Studies in Art and Culture, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.
Partial Contents :
The Devadasis and the origins of Bharata Natyam -- Present State of Bharata Natyam -- The sacred and profane in Bharata Natyam -- Training of Bharata Natyam Teachers -- Banis of Bharata Natyam -- Learning Bharata Natyam in the Modern Setting -- The Structure and Repertoire of Bharata Natyam -- Dance Performances at the Madras Music Academy, 1931-1988 -- Vestiges of Religion in Bharata Natyam.