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by Srikant Subramaniam, Mumbai
Apr 2002

When I was quite young, say 7 years old, I would be captivated by Smt Chitra Vishveswaran and Dr.Padma Subrahmanyam's dance concerts. Their limbs moving in an ecstatic frenzy would often leave me breathless and speechless. To be very honest I would try to imitate them, and I would be quite successful at times. Since then my love for dancing, dancing Bharatanatyam has never diminished; it's only been enriched and improvised each time.

Even today, after a long period of sadhana I ask myself, this very honest question, where does the art of Bharatanatyam stand in the world of consumer goods and blue jeans? The answer to this question comes from my inner self and the art of Bharatanatyam itself gives me the answer. It speaks about harmony and this awesome nature in all it's variegated forms, most importantly it speaks about feelings, emotions and reality of life, emphasizing on those emotions which have a universal concern. Thus the art of Bharatanatyam paints a truthful and a beautiful picture of the whole world. It is an art form, which deals with our human experiences, it communicates not only to Indian masses but to people overseas too. It is not only a celebration of movements but has a profound influence on our thoughts, inner nature and feelings.

I came across a Chinese book, which throws light on the effects of listening to good music. Under the effect of good music, the eyes and ears are clear, the blood and the vital spirits are balanced, habits are reformed, customs are improved and thus the empire is in complete peace. These are the effects after watching a good dance performance too. It is like the light of that candle which never seems to fade away, it is this effulgent, incandescent, illuminated spirit that keeps glowing all the time and thus it certainly serves as a beacon, a torch that shows the light for the souls living in the dark.

Apart from the traditional repertoire, which includes sabdams, jatiswarams, varnams, javalis, and padams, the art form provides a new vista of knowledge to be put to use for the welfare of the society. Today many contemporary themes like poverty, brotherhood, child marriage, infanticide and love for nature are rendered within the frame work of the art form especially in a classical scenario. This is the very testimony to the authenticity of this dance style.

Srikant Subramaniam is pursuing a degree in fine arts from the University of Mumbai.

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