The plight of Bharatha Natyam | Daily News

The plight of Bharatha Natyam

All the classical dance forms are confined to the category of Margi while folk dances are categorized as Desi. The Desi dance form all over the world differ from region to region, place to place, district to district, and season to season. Most of the Desi dance forms are formulated for amusement. The Pradesh folk dance, according to Natya Sastra, is a Desi dance which is not supposed to adhere to any norms. Anybody can handle the Desi dance or folk dance according to their ideology, modify the costumes, make-up and music.

The Margi dance form which transcends international barriers and boundaries has acquired recognition and is regarded as a classical dance form which is very polished and specialized by sophisticated techniques. Bharatha Natyam comes under the Margi dance. It has a spiritual history. It is a Tamil classical dance form which was fostered in the Tamil country many centuries ago. The ancient dance form is a part of Tamil heritage and culture. Above all, it is based on and linked with spiritual Hindu philosophy and Hinduism. The majority of the Tamil community all over the world preserves and protects this art form with full devotion and dedication. Even the expatriate Tamil community has carried the religion, language, literature, music, paintings, sculpture and social customs with them to the migrated lands. This dance form is based on well-established Carnatic music.

In Sri Lanka, Bharatha Natyam is being taught in schools from Grade 6 to Grade 12 as a subject. Besides, many foreign and local examination boards hold examinations in the subject. Naturally, it has led to a craze among students for obtaining certificates. For performing art, the craze for the certificate is unhealthy. Learning a performing art following a prescribed syllabus is not feasible or desirable. It has been found that syllabi have not been compiled by experts in the field. They have to be prepared with a clear understanding of child psychology. It is noted that practical examinations are not conducted fairly.Some examiners are caught up in the rivalry between dance teachers forcing them to pass certain candidates who do not perform well. Some examiners openly criticize candidates and upset their mood. Others make disparaging remarks about dance teachers and their style. All these unwanted activities affect students’ performance and destroy their future hopes of becoming professional dancers.

In many countries, teachers are required to have at least a Bachelor of Education degree in addition to other qualifications they possess. Such a degree will impart teaching techniques and methodology.

Some Bharatha Natyam teachers try to make innovative techniques in the subject.

Balasaraswathy, the undisputed Queen of Bharatha Natyam, in her presidential address at the 33rd annual conference of the Tamil Isai Sangam on the 23rd of December 1975 declared, “The traditional recital is a rich contribution of diverse aesthetic and psychological elements which produces complete enjoyment.

To alter this arrangement because it is considered boring is to destroy the integrity of aesthetic enjoyment.” She said those who want to create a novel dance form should present it as a separate item. She added that the greatest authorities on dance have recognized the fact that orthodox traditional discipline gives the fullest freedom to individual creativity.

She also said some young dancers want to create self-styled razzle-dazzle dances. “Such dance forms do not last long. On the other hand, if they stick to tradition, like the great banyan tree, strikes deep roots and spreads wide roots and branches. They stand to gain for themselves and for those who watch them will be blessed with dignity and joy of Bharatha Natyam.”

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