Sunday, 27 January 2013

Vilasini Natyam: Salvaging a Fading Dance Form

I guess very few people would have heard the name of this dance form Vilasini Natyam. First time,  I heard about this dance form in India International Centre in Delhi. They have organised a three days Vilasini festival. I attended the festival on Vilasini Natyan by maestro Swapnasundari where she has given a mind blowing performance.  With curiosity, I started searching the roots of this unknown dance form.

A Dance form of Vilasini Natyam
 Vilasini natyam (which means “hereditary dance tradition”) is the name given to the sensual dance-form of the bhogam-sannis, women consecrated by the temple deity in Andhra Pradesh. Called “devadasis” in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, these women passed on their training exclusively to their daughters. Unfortunately this tradition came to an abrupt end when when the devadasi practice was abolished in 1988 by the national government. Social pressures also threatened vilasini natyam. “The dancers took an oath never to perform again. Nor would they teach the dance to their daughters.
Vilasini Natyam is a tradition followed by Kalavantalus. In its glorious period, the Kings used to invite Kalvantalus to perform when there were guests at the court. This was to impress the guests with the art form. Vilasini Natyam is a demanding art form. The dancers of Vilasini Natyam have to sing on stage while performing, regardless of whether they have a good voice or not.

Swapnaundari- Prominent Dancer of Vilasini Natyam

One of the prominent dancer of Vilasini Natyam  Swapna-sundari Rao-Prakash has written a well-researched book “Vilasini Natyam Bharatam of Telugu Temple and Court Dancers”  on this dance form. According to book, vilasini natyam as an ancient tradition that existed only in the temples, before moving into the royal courts. It gives an account of its origin, rise, decline and renaissance into the form Vilasini Natyam.
Though Vilasini Natyam movements appear quintessentially feminine, its hundred-odd Adavus (dance-units) include the Tandava (vigorous) and Lasya (soft) aspects. Vilasini Natyam's complex Abhinaya is widely admired. Its extensive repertoire comprises Temple dances, Court dances and Dance operas of the hereditary female singer-dancers of Telugu origin.
Our Country is so rich in culture and tradition and if we can do little bit of effort from our side, we can easily save these vanishing traditions.

Source:Wikipedia,Hindu, Times of India
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