It is time to encourage our young classical dancers

 

Sponsor, donate or purchase tickets to ensure the success of the
First Annual Indian Newslink Bharata Natyam Festival
On Saturday, May 6, 2023 at Sacred Heart College Auditorium, Glendowie, Auckland
Tickets priced at $57.50 are on sale.
Please call 021-836528 or email venkat@indiannewslink.nz

Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 22, 2023

About 30 senior students from three popular dance schools will demonstrate their proficiency as Indian Newslink presents its first Bharata Natyam Festival.

About our Bharata Natyam Festival

Indian Newslink is organising the Festival to encourage people of all communities to learn and practice Bharata Natyam, one of the finest forms of performing arts and to showcase the talent inherent in our communities.

This is the first event of its kind to be organised in New Zealand and we hope you have your patronage and support either as a sponsor, a donor or as a part of our esteemed audience.

Anuradha School of Indian Dance (Auckland), Natraj School of Dance (Lower Hutt, Wellington) and Varaveena Dance Company (Auckland) are among the institutions participating in the Festival which aims to promote classical dances of India.

Tickets priced at $57.50 including GST and tables seating ten persons at $575.50 per table are on sale. The ticket price includes vegetarian dinner.

For sponsorship, donation and for purchase of tickets, please call 021-836528 or email venkat@indiannewslink.nz

While India is home to at least eight forms of classical dances, Bharata Natyam is stated to be the oldest, dating back to at least 5000 years, with Lord Shiva as The Nataraja, or Master of Dances. It is customary to pay obeisance to this Master at every event or festival at which Bharata Natyam plays a role. The forthcoming Festival will be no exception.

 

The Theoretical Foundations

The theoretical foundations of Bharata Natyam are cited in Kootha Nool in Tamil and then referred also in Natya Shastra, a Sanskrit text of performance arts.

Natya Shastra is attributed to the ancient scholar Bharata Muni who lived at least 2300 years ago. The most studied version of the Natya Shastra text consists of about 6000 verses structured into 36 chapters. The text describes the theory of Thandava Dance by Lord Shiva, the theory of Rasa, Bhava expression, gestures, acting techniques, basic steps, and standing postures, all of which are part of Indian classical dances.

Bharata Natyam is usually described as the backronym condensation of Bha (Bhava or Feelings) Ra (Raga or Rhythm) and Ta (Tala or Beats).

These are also forms of expression of spiritual ideas, virtues and the essence of scriptures.

Historical references to dance are found in the Tamil epics Silappatikaram (Second Century) and Manimekalai (Sixth Century).

Silappatikaram includes a story of a dancing girl named Madhavi; it describes the dance training regimen called Arangetru Kathai of Madhavi in verses 113 through 159. The carvings in Kanchipuram’s Shiva temple (dated between the Sixth and Ninth Centuries) suggest that dance was a well-developed performance art.

The naming of Bharata Natyam

At a meeting of the Madras Dance Academy held in Madras (Chennai) in 1932, E Krishna Iyer, an Indian lawyer and freedom fighter and Rukmani Devi Arundale, a theosophist, dancer and choreographer, proposed to rename Sadirattam or Parathaiyar Aattam as Bharata Natyam to give this dance form a measure of respect.

Bharata Natyam is today performed not inside the temple shrines but in schools, auditoria and other public places with renewed vigour and vitality.

It has gained popularity in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji and continues to attract people of varied cultures, languages and religious beliefs.

There are seven recognised styles of Bharata Natyam – Pandanallur, Tanjore (Thanjavur), Vazhuvoor, Mysore, Kanchipuram, Melattur and Balasaraswati. The first five are based on the art of Rajadasi and are exoteric in nature, while the last two grew out of the Devadasis distinctly different esoteric art.

Mulk Raj Anand, one of the finest Indian writers of the 20th Century who gained international fame, said in his ‘Bharata Natyam: Indian Classical Dance Art’ the following:

“Flowers open in the hands of the dancer, and birds fly off from the tips of fingers, each muscle of the face is transformed, the eyes move in blandishments of scorn, and the eyebrows express horror or suspicion, even as the whole face expresses different and often contrary feelings in the same breath such as dance drama, performed according to the most delicate nuances of a musical piece, or a poem, through the vehicle of one body, is surely unmatched in any art.”

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