meduri, a doctoral student at the time the article was published, covers a lot of ground - the history of transformation of sadhir into bharata natyam in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the transformation of what was essentially a temple art practised by the devadasi patronized by both the temple and the court into a "respectable" art form on a secular stage, aided and abetted principally by the tamil brahmin establishment. she talks of the devadasi's loss of her historical profession , the corruption of her status in society to earn a livelihood, and her anguish in fashioning a new identity.
she talks about the role of the male as a patron of the art in the historical and modern contexts and laments that the performer is yet to shake off the shackles of her dependence on the male patron (remember this was in 1988)
meduri talks about balasaraswati and rukmini devi, and the important roles they played in shaping twentieth century bharata natyam, their differing views of their art.
somewhere along the way, she tells her own personal story of trying to find her identity as a young, attractive performer in madras, the annuling of an arranged marriage and fleeing india to find herself.
it is a very interesting read. i plan to write some more later.
this part really touched me, cracked me up and saddened me at the same time--
she talks about watching a performance of the kamba ramayanam in the music academy by padma subrahmanyam with the goal of understanding her own aesthetic experience as a member of the audience. she says she had to witness the performance four times. of her first time she writes:
the second time she was constantly disturbed by a wailing a child and of her third time,
undaunted she went back a fourth time --
and then meduri asks, "what possible future can there be for an art form that a new generation cannot relate to except in the literal terms of the movies?"
this was as i said in 1988. i wonder what the status of bharatha natyam is in india and madras today. i am becoming somewhat aware of the pursuit of the art by NRI children here in the US, but don't know the situation in india.
Edited by Mamallan, 27 June 2007 - 06:48 AM.