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Art & Culture

Classical Dance and Music

Indian Classical Dance "..abstraction of Upanishadic thought which is assiduously translated in to well designed concrete language of artistic media."

It all started with Natya Shastra

Said to be written 2000 years ago by Bharata Muni, it is the seminal source book for dancers and performers. The mammoth book covers all technical and aesthetic aspects of the art of the Indian Theatre and Dance.

From the purpose of natya, to the architectural format, stage rituals, Rasa, Bhava, Abhinaya, gestic communication, music, types of instruments. 37 chapters that together form the nucleus of this fascinating performing art. Later century works like Abhinaya Darpana, Abhinaya Chandrike, also have great relevance to the dancer today.

Legend has it that the Devas (Gods) had vanquished the Asuras (Evil) and were relating the happenings to Brahma, the God of Creation. The Asuras thought this was a renewed attack and retaliated. Brahma intervened - "This is only a performance, hence forth it will only be held on earth".

And Brahma passed on all the information on Dance and Drama to Bharata Muni who compiled it as the Natya Shastra.

Sculpture Comes To Life

Temples were raised to the house the Gods and became the focal point for the community. They also became centres of learning and contributed to the advancement of such arts as sculpture, painting, music and dance. Mostly built by Kings, who were also the patrons of arts, encouraging a continuity and enriching rituals of worship, the earliest basis of the classical performing arts.

It was from the temple that the Devdasi cult (Temple Dancers who performed for the Lord) began. Once a practice countrywide - the Kulvantalu in Andhra Pradesh, the Maibi in Manipur, the Devdasi in Tamil Nadu and the Mahari in Orissa, all trace their roots to the temple. The countless sculptures of dance poses in the temples, hint at the potency of dance as a path to spiritual exaltation and lays out a complete lexicon of dance techniques.

For instance, it is said that the greater part of vocabulary of Odissi dance is preserved in stone.

A rich heritage to be brought alive by the artist.

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