T Balasaraswati Centenary

  • Published By: The Sruti Foundation
  • Issue: 401

Bala on Bharatanatyam
Edited excerpts from the book titled Bala on Bharatanatyam

Edited excerpts from the book titled Bala on Bharatanatyam compiled and translated by S. Guhan, and published by The Sruti Foundation in 1991.

Balasaraswati did not believe in writing or speaking about Bharatanatyam. For Bala, dance had to be danced, not spoken about. However, from the early 1970s, Bala was invited to preside over a number of conferences in recognition of her stature and status as the peerless exponent of Bharatanatyam. These occasions included the annual sessions of the Music Academy, Madras (1973), the Tamil Isai Sangam, Madras (1975), the East-West Conference held in Hawaii (1979), and the Indian Fine Arts Society, Madras (1981). Bala took these opportunities to speak about her conception of Bharatanatyam, its philosophy and practice; she shared reminiscences relating to her guru, family, and other sources of training and support; and she did not hesitate as well to criticise certain aspects of the contemporary Bharatanatyam scene.

Bharatanatyam as yoga

What is dance? Dance is the natural and, therefore, universal activity of the human species through which it finds unity with the cosmos and its creator. The cosmos is the dynamic expression, in orderly and beautiful movement, of the static source, the one supreme spirit.


Supply exceeds demand
Subramanian Seshadri

Supply exceeds demand   


For the last few seasons I stayed anchored at the Music Academy for the annual music season. This year I decided to do the sabha hopping that many rasikas experience during the season. I attended about 50 plus concerts across seven  venues including the Music Academy.

There were some  very good concerts, some good, and a few not so good. But some parts of a concert linger in your mind long after the season is over and I share a few of them here. The Varali raga alapana of Sandeep Narayan at Narada Gana Sabha, the ragam-tanam-pallavi in Dwijavanti by Malladi Brothers at Mylapore Fine Arts, the tri-raga ragam-tanam-pallavi in Sree, Neelambari and Bindumalini by Ranjani-Gayatri at Brahma Gana Sabha and a long and detailed raga alapana in Kedaragaula by Sanjay Subrahmanyan  at Brahma Gana Sabha on 1 January 2018. Four-hour concerts can allow the performer to dig deep and come out with gems. This Kedaragaula sounded even more beautiful in the mid-morning—the raga assumed a different hue from when you listened to it in the evening, though I know the concept of morning and evening ragas is alien to Carnatic music.

Sattriya Today

SATTRIYA TODAY                                  


By fortuitous circumstances, I attended the All India Dance Seminar convened by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi in April 1958, and was ushered into a world of Indian classical dances, where I saw for the first time Odissi dances presented in a demonstration by Guru Deba Prasad Das, and Sattriya dances of Assam, presented by traditional gurus like Maniram Dutta Mukhtiyar and inmates of the Kamalabari Satra, the celibate monks. Dr. Maheshwar Neog presented a scholarly paper in which he referred to Sattriya’s  antiquity and as a living tradition for more than 500 years in more than 600 satras  (monasteries) all over Assam. It was an eye-opener and Dr. Mulk Raj Anand entrusted me to edit a special issue of Marg. It took several years and was published in 2013 with contributions from gurus, scholars, and dancers from Assam with photographs by Avinash Pasricha.

It was during Bhupen Hazarika’s chairmanship of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, in November 2000, after four days of deliberations, demonstrations and performances, that Sattriya dances were recognised as the eighth Indian classical dance form. Since then the Assamese dancers have not looked back and today like in Manipur, you will hardly come across a young dancer who does not know Sattriya dances.

Sruti 400 an event to remember

Sruti 400 an event to remember     


Eminent business leader R. Seshasayee, who is also a vice president of the Music Academy, and a connoisseur of music, formally released the 400th edition of Sruti on 4 January 2018 at Amethyst, Royapettah, Chennai. The other guests of honour that evening, Chitravina N. Ravikiran,  recently anointed Sangita Kalanidhi by the Music Academy, and the celebrated Bharatanatyam duo Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan, received the magazine from him. N. Sankar, Chairman of The Sanmar Group, presided over the function. The celebration was well attended by artists, writers, readers and critics.

The Folly at Amethyst was a fitting venue with an environ of thick lush green foliage surrounding it, a serene haven amidst the crowded, noisy Whites Road.