Contents: Introduction. 1. The Devadasis and the origins of Bharata Natyam. 2. Present state of Bharata Natyam. 3. The sacred and profane in Bharata Natyam. 4. Training of Bharata Natyam teachers. 5. Banis of Bharata Natyam. 6. Learning Bharata Natyam in the modern setting. 7. The structure and repertoire of Bharata Natyam. 8. Dance performances at the Madras Music Academy, 1931-1988. 9. Vestiges of religion in Bharata Natyam. Conclusion. Map. Appendices. Glossary. Bibliography. Index.
"Bharata Natyam is currently one of the most popular styles of classical dance in India. It is also well known worldwide. Certain components of this dance have historical associations with religious ritual in the temples of south India. In the course of its transition from performance in temples and courts to the concert stage, the making of modern Bharata Natyam has passed from the purview of traditional/hereditary families, and dancers into the hands of the educated elite. What changes have been brought about in presentation and style as a result of this transition? Although current dancers and teachers make claims for the antiquity of their art, and the authenticity of the tradition, what was the dance of the hereditary practitioners, the devadasis, really like? How much of current practice is an invention of the past fifty years? These and other questions on the fascinating history of the creation of Bharata Natyam are dealt with by Anne-Marie Gaston who provides extensive oral testimony of current perceptions and directions of Bharata Natyam. "This illuminating account of how both hereditary and non-hereditary dancers, teachers and critics view the evolution of Bharata Natyam provides a critique of the place of Bharata Natyam in Indian society and of the concept of "traditional" in late twentieth century India." (jacket)