I base this paper on a subjective assumption that Bharatanatyam today has become prisoner to its own attitudes, undone by its own narcissism as the chauvinistically flaunted emblem of Indian culture. The paper begins by first identifying and elaborating philosophical underpinnings that inform and inspire the poetics of dance from the inside, and then proceeds to identify some historical impositions that both restrict the parameters of the dancer’s imagination as well as given rise to attitudes and perspectives that tend to make Bharatanatyam both self-sufficient and self-conscious.
The philosophical construct around Bharatanataym is sweeping, it directly connects the dance to the Gods, Siva Nataraja being the first dancer and teacher of Bharata who further wrote the Natyashastra. But ironically, I cannot resist remarking, that by making the dance self-conscious of its divine origins and flaunting it as a spiritual product, tends to deplete the dance of its supernatural and spiritual energy or range. It is not that I contest the supernatural lineage; in fact my premise too is that dance is potentially sublime and spiritual, but it is the emphatic posturing and chauvinistic brandishing that I find problematic at the level of art making.
The Religious/Spiritual Aspect
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