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  • Samieux

21st Century Bharatanatyam

Bharatanatyam in the past was practiced as a way of life. It originally started with the devadasis or temple dancers who were revered and were also the entertainers of the king's courts. The earliest scriptures of Bharatanatyam are known to be wall drawings and depictions as well as the text of Natyasastra which describes the early nuances of the art form. The practitioners read poetry, were trained in music, and their compositions were based on their lives so they immersed themselves in the art.

In today's fast growing world, how do we translate these nuances and transmit them to the younger generation dancers? They are not connected to India and places such as Tanjavur and Chidambaram that are full of dance history and culture. Nowadays, many who learn the art form cannot even understand the language it originated from....Tamil. That is not to say that understanding dance isn't possible as there are many foreign dancers who fall in love with learning this ancient art and have incorporated it to reach great heights as an artist. The key is to find a way to connect to it the meaning behind the emotions or the music that calls to you. Each dancer must take a moment to allow themselves to indulge in the feelings that dance offers them and bring it to the forefront to allow the audience to connect to that same emotion and energy. Music and art have no language or proforma of criteria and are universal in emoting and expressing.

I myself am a first generation immigrant and had to find the energy of what "dance means to me" and harness those emotions to incorporate it into my artistic expression. This also allows artistic freedom of expression and it is interesting to see what each dancer uses for inspiration. Growth of a young dancer happens when this amount of self realization occurs and their own flavor is incorporated and portrayed by their renditions of pieces.

So, I implore young dancers to understand the meaning behind their repertoires and try to find what resonates with you most and work to portray those emotions, feelings and thoughts across to the audience.

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