Is There A ‘Bharatanatyam Overload’?

Is Bharatanatyam being shunned and neglected? What made Odissi guru Sonal Mansingh a powerful performer in Bharatanatyam? Renowned artiste Anita Ratnam’s roving eye covers many relevant aspects of performing arts. Her eye falls upon, even grey, in the beautiful dance of light and shadows. As Anita travels in and outside India, in the cyclical process of thinking, performing, unthinking, making and sharing, we look at what provokes her creative thought.

With her permission, we shareAnita Says” — her column on the thought-provoking trends in dance, music and theatre, on performances that engage her attention and appreciation; artistes and contemporaries.

In her October column in ‘Narthaki’, Anita looks at Aniruddha Knight, legend Balasaraswati’s grandson, and his ambitious solo performances. Aniruddha, according to Anita, has encouraged male dancers to perform margam. Bharatanatyam is moving towards a milestone. Will New Delhi celebrate the birth centenary of Balasaraswati and her contribution to the brave reinvention of Bharatanatyam?  She says, “Bala’s 100th birthday falls on May 8, 2018. Lots to look forward to, especially when Aniruddha Knight is looking far beyond Indian shores for inspiration.”  She talks about two Chennai-based Bharatantyam groups giving powerful performances in USA — Muralidharan’s “Nayaka/Nayaki” and Chitra Visweswaran’s “Meera”; a kathak arangyetram in London, fusion on television, and the joy of rituals.

Anita dabbles with questions on performance. She talks about them. In New York, a presenter tells her, “BN (Bharatanatyam) is coming out of my every aperture. Tell me about dancers in other styles.” Anita reflects on why there could be, what she calls, a “Bharatanatyam overload”.  What could be missing in the vibrant scenario of Bharatanatyam’s popularity? Anita has initiated a dialogue on the rebirth of Bharatanatyam.



Featured image: Anita Ratnam