Song of Surrender

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

When more is not better

Bharatanatyam Today 

By G. Sundari

It is heartening to note the improvement in the movements of dancers, the near perfection they often achieve. The tendency to exhibit creativity by staging long sancharis, teermanams and solkattus is however not so enjoyable. Anything  overdone loses its charm. True, stage space should be used, but not by wandering aimlessly all over. Such restraint can be observed even in the sarpa nadai. There must be limited use of single hand movements. While following the same kalapramanam from start to finish can get boring, variations in this aspect can help to hold the interest of the audience.

Dancers often wear costumes which clash with the colour of the backdrop and the sidewings. There is also a tendency to overdo the make-up. Applying make-up is an art in itself and must be used to suit each dancer. Nothing enhances the beauty of the Indian face
like red kumkumam. Modern line drawings on the forehead are best avoided. Very thin eyebrows make the face look placid.

Abhinaya, especially to songs on gods and goddesses, and those with a spiritual message, cannot be mundane. The expression should convey the divinity in the portrayal. Children should not be made to dance for songs of sringara as they do not understand its import at a tender age. They can be taught bhakti songs as well as compositions on child Krishna, Muruga and the like, in playful mood.

Bharatanatyam has often
been described as poetic dance, with smooth transitions between movements. Jerkiness in movements, even in the attami, mars the grace in the dance.

It is the dance and the music for it that should attract the attention of the audience, not flashy costumes, jewels, and overpowering props. Gimmicks like blowing smoke and bubbles on to the stage make for a comic spectacle.

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