Friday, November 23, 2012

ARAIMANDI, The Brilliance of Bharatanayam

As a teacher of Bharatanatyam I get a lot of complaints on how they want to quit, as araimandi and muzhumandi seem to be postures which are very painful. I wondered in my years of learning did I feel the same. It used to be painful and I remember my first master rolled a paper and hit me for not sitting properly in the posture but it did not want me to give up. I want to understand the origin of araimandi in dance and why the generation today almost finds it impossible to continue because of that.

The word araimandi basically means half sitting posture and closely resembles the Ayata Mandala. Mandala is basically a body posture which may involve a small movement.  Ayata Mandala is defined in Abhinaya Drapanam as: “Standing in Chaturasra bending the knees slightly and obliquely and keeping a distance of Vitasati between the two feet “(A.D 692-93, Translation by Prof.P.S.R.Appa Rao).  Another important aspect is saushtava which means that the body posture is erect without a hunch. The height of a person decided the araimandi, the distance from the navel to the head should be equal to the distance from the navel to the ground.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bharatanatyam and its content

The existence of a form of dance, that shows some resemblance to what we now see as Bharatanatyam, has been shown through literary evidences. Silapadikkaram a sangam period literature work describes in great detail the arangetram of a courtesan called Madhavi. Around 6th century AD during the rule of Kalabhras, a separate idea of belief was rising, as seen in Buddhism and Jainism. Hinduism as a different religion took its shape and Bhakti margam spread this across south India. Bhakti traditions celebrated life in contrast to Jainism and Buddhism and propagated their ideas of love towards the supreme soul through music and dance. Hand in hand movement of performing arts with Hinduism grew in the Bhakti Period. It was the Bhakti period that created the rich lyrical content that gave the backbone for the narrative element in dance.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Technique Vs. Soul

The socio-cultural milieus in which the Indian Classical dance forms grew and flourished have contributed richly to the shaping of the form both in the past and the present. The Bhakti traditions richly popularized music and dance adding to the content of the repertoire. It was patronized by both the Temple and the Kings. In the temple premises the Devadasis used to perform in praise of the presiding deity and in the patronage of the Kings they would perform so as to please kings. Sometimes the pieces were so camouflaged that one didn’t know whether the piece is addressed to the King or the God.