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May 17, 2013


Could you please tell me which form of dance was existing in 1350 to 1400 AD in Vijaynagar Empire? What was the basic language dancers used? Sanskrit or Brij or any other language? What were the accompanying instruments they used while performing dance?

Thanking you, with regards
Prakash Pavatikar

Dear Prakash Pavatikar,

The rulers of the Vijayanagar Empire were great patrons of arts. Young female dancers were given intensive training during Vijayanagar kingdom. From the accounts of the Portuguese traveler Domingo Paes, carefully evaluating the karanas of dancing figures found among the ruins of Vijayanagar and also considering the fact that many Brahmin Bhagavata families migrated to Tanjore after the fall of Vijaynagara empire, we should assume that the classical dance form prevalent during 1350 to 1400 AD was very much similar to present day Kuchipudi dance.

The principal language was Kannada but Telugu, Marathi, Braj and Sanskrit were also used in musical compositions. Popular instruments were tanpura, veena and mridangam.

With best wishes
Mrinalini V Sarabhai

May 16, 2013

Respected Mrinaliniji,

A common question arising these days is, "Is the traditional dance costume of an Indian classical dance style its only identity?" Speaking of Bharatanatyam, there have been experiments in costumes, yet the style represented or the body language used is Bharatanatyam itself....hence how can it be categorized as contemporary and not Bharatanatyam? Kindly give your opinion.

Kind regards,
Gauri Kashelikar

Dear Gauri Kashelikar,

There are multiple elements which distinguish each dance form and the costume is one among them. Any deviation from the traditionally followed pattern falls in the category of 'contemporary.' We can call them xyz based on Bharatanatyam / Kuchipudi / Kathakali style.

Change, if done with complete knowledge, is inevitable in any art form.

With best wishes
Mrinalini V Sarabhai

May 15, 2013

Mrinalini amma,

I am a 36 year old man, who has trained in Carnatic classical music for over ten years and have been an ardent admirer of Indian classical dances though I have not trained in any of them. I have practiced theatre too. I think I have huge potential as a dancer, I can manage to dance and I have a very expressive face. But the glitch is I do not know which is the dance form to pursue. Even though I admire Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, I am not sure if I can perform them. I am looking for a form of dance that gives importance to body movements (less of footwork) and emphasizes on facial expression. Please help me on this. I am based in Kochi.

Anand Hari

Dear Anand Hari,

Good to know about your passion. Follow the voice of your heart. Footwork is inevitable in any form of dance. But you can try the abhinaya aspect of Kathakali or Koodiyattam to satisfy your passion.

With best wishes
Mrinalini V Sarabhai

May 15, 2013

Respected Mrinaliniji,

It is a greatest honour to me that I could write to you. My question is regarding my daughter. She is learning Bharatanatyam since last three years. She is 7 years old now. I want her to continue dancing even after she completes the 7 years course from her guru and learn more about this dance form. How can I make her more focused and interested in this dance form? Is it necessary to have arangetram to give stage performances?

Thank you.
Vidya Bangera

Dear Vidya Bangera

Children here at Darpana start at six. We take utmost care not to overburden the students as far as the learning of a classical dance form like Bharatanatyam is concerned. In order to evoke interest, let your child grow and understand the art form and decide herself. Don't force your child to do this or that. Focus and interest naturally follow if she finds it her passion.

It is not necessary but traditional to perform the Arangetram to introduce a child to the stage.

Wish you good luck
Mrinalini V. Sarabhai

May 15, 2013

Respected Mrinaliniji

I have always wanted to watch yours and Mallika didi's performance on Meerabai. I searched the website of Darpana but could not find the video. Where can I find a video of the performance?

Smrithi Manamohan

Dear Smrithi,

We do not have a full upload of Meera. Excerpts of Mallika's version of this performance is available on Youtube

With best wishes
Mrinalini V Sarabhai

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