This blog is a revised excerpt from:
Bansal-Tönz, Scharmila: Research on the songs of Purandaradāsa (1484 – 1564) and their modern reception in Indian dance Bharata Natyam. Zurich : University, 2018.
Dissertation at the University of Zurich, 2017
© Copyright by Sharmila Bansal-Tönz. All rights reserved.
Bharata Natyam is a body-conscious dance. This is expressed on the one hand in powerful combinations of movement with complex coordination elements of the various limbs, and on the other hand in the narration of meaningful content and the expression of emotions. In its present form, it can’t be clearly assigned to known categories such as “ritual dance” or “secular dance”1Vgl. LIECHTENHAN (2000:9). because, ideologically, it refers to a ritualistic origin, but in its contemporary form it claims the status of a formalized stage art. The staging still has its own ritual aspects, such as the greeting and homage to God Naṭarāja and the mother goddess. However, these are elements artificially added to the dance in the middle of the 20th century.In this respect one can speak of a reconstructed ritual art. Bharata Natyam has developed the character of a homeland dance through its past of the last 150 years.2LIECHTENHAN (2000:19) uses the term “Heimattanz” (homeland dance) in connection with the characterization of folk dances. In the case of Bharata Natyam, this characterization can certainly also be applied to this “classical” dance form. Although it is considered a South Indian dance style, it represents a identity-creating and identity-granting tradition: «[…] bharata natyam appears to conjure images of quintessential Indianness.»3O’SHEA (2007:70)