Paper presented at DSA International Conference held at New Jersey, 2021
"A relapse of (in)stabilities: Bharatanāṭyam"
The long-standing dance form of South India that was later called Bharatanāṭyam, underwent a complex process of revival in the 1930s. Matthew Allen Harp (1997; 63) gives a broader definition to this complex process by presenting the 6-‘R’s. With the COVID-19 pandemic setting in, has this complex process defined by Harp relapsed once again causing (in)stabilities for Bharatanāṭyam in the 2020s?
The 1930s witnessed a “re-situation” of the dance form from temples and courts to the proscenium stage. Has the 2020s “re-situated” Bharatanāṭyam from stage to virtual platforms? The 1930s saw a “re-population” of the dance form by substituting one community of dancers with another. Has the 2020s “re-populated” Bharatanāṭyam by extending its boundaries to people who lacked direct access to training, and eliminating those who have stunted acquaintance with technology and the internet? Just like how a “re-vivification” brought back life to the dance form in the 1930s, has the 2020s mobilized performance spaces and pedagogy in an unusual way? The 1930s saw a “re-construction” of the dance form by altering/replacing elements of repertoire and choreography. Is there yet again, a significant “re-construction” of Bharatanāṭyam with importance given to videography, editing, sound recording, and renewed lighting techniques? Will the dance form now be “re-stored” and “re-named” like it was done in the 1930s? Using a case-study approach, this presentation strives to examine the current standing of Bharatanāṭyam, its performative space, and pedagogy, outlining a pathway for its future.
Allen Harp, M. (1997). Re-writing the script for South Indian dance. The Dance Review. Vol. 41, No. 3. pp-63-100.
This thesis is an exposition of the overlapping interrelationship between two powers - Bharatanāṭyam and Indian cinema during a highly entropic period in the Indian society (between the 1930s to 1950s). At the apex of reform and revival movements of a dance form piloting towards its transfiguration as Bharatanāṭyam, Indian cinema was infusing Bharatanāṭyam into its early films. This has left a lasting impression on Indian cinema and Bharatanāṭyam. This study seeks to examine the evolution of Bharatanāṭyam in Indian cinema and the permeation of its female performers, dance masters, and their characteristic styles in Indian films. Further, it evaluates the representations of Bharatanāṭyam in the Indian cinematic space.
A reconstruction of the past and modeling of the ‘flux period’ (the 1930s-1950s) facilitates the perception of the underlying forces. To validate the Bharatanāṭyam items that were showcased in Indian films of this period, a clarification of the fundamental standards is furnished. Tools like movement analysis, music notation, concepts of philology, and Indian aesthetics are utilized for validation. Besides the analysis portion carrying attention and visibility to the work of female performers of India and their outstanding contributions made as dancers in early Indian films, it contains an in-person interview with a celebrated Bharatanāṭyam dancer and actress. Additionally, this research displays the reflection that Indian cinema entertained through Bharatanāṭyam concerning the prevailing social norms in Indian society. While this work is intertwined in dance anthropology and sociology,
by and large, this thesis is an attempt to push the envelope of research in areas of
performance studies and dance studies.
Paper presented at DSA International Conference held at Malta, 2018
"Conflicting styles during the revival of Bharatanatyam in the Indian cinematic space"
The revival of the south Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam witnessed a massive migration of Bharatanatyam teachers and dancers into the Indian cinematic realm. Situating itself in dance anthropology, this paper probes into the conflicting Bharatanatyam styles of the two iconic figures in the cinema industry, Vyjayanthimala Bali and Kamala Lakshman. A comprehensive analysis of their dance techniques from two traditional numbers performed by them in Hindi films substantiated by a personal interview with Vyjayanthimala, goes to prove how beautifully their individual dance styles have blossomed with outstanding creativities because of their conflicting opinions and a strong adherence to their own dancing style.