Rukmini Devi was born on Feb 29, 1904. She established Kalakshetra meaning "A holy place for the arts" in 1936. She was the first dancer to dance to proper stage lighting and background in Bharathanatyam.
Rukmini Devi was the first to introduce the practice of making the orchestra sit by the side of the stage during a performance. Before this, the orchestra was seated behind the artiste and faced the audience. Rukmini Devi considered this a distraction and made the orchestra sit by the side of the stage which has become the current practice.
Rukmini Devi was the first Bharatanatyam artiste to dance to the music of the Trinities.
Rukmini Devi was the first artiste to dance in Thisra Nadai to a Thillana of a Chathurasra Nadai.
Rukmini Devi learnt ballet from Cleo Nordi and her inspiration for ballet dancing was Anna Pavalova.
Apart from being called Dasiattam and Thanjavur Natyam, Sadir was the original name for BHARATANATYAM. It was the preserve of the devadasis. Men of the Isai Vellalar community to which the devadasis belonged served as teachers, nattuvanars and musicians. These Nattuvanars trained devadasi women to perform Sadir at temples and rituals, royal courts and for family functions of the then rich and famous. The 4 brothers Ponnayya, Chinnayya, Vadivelu and Sivanandam known popularly as the Thanjavur Quartette (1798-1832) set the pattern and syllabus and gave a chiselled structure to Sadir dance. In the third quarter of the 19th century, there was an anti-nautch movement coupled with the economic deterioration of the devadasis. E Krishna Iyer learnt Bharatanatyam and fought to save Sadir from extinction.The name Bharatanatyam was first coined by him in the mid 1930's.
KATHAKALI requires high physical and mental fitness, rigorous training and tough physical exercises before and after rigorous massages done with the foot. This is an essential aspect of kathakali training for flexibility of the body which is essential for a Kathakali actor in order to perform hero roles that demand physical perfection. This rigorous training spanned 8 to 10 years. Such training and massages were unsuitable for the female body. So, the dance-drama tradition of Kathakali was an art form of the males and all the maestros have been men since its origin. Of late women have entered the field and undergo limited training to meet their immediate performance requirements. 2 well known Kathakali female artistes were Karthiyani who lived circa 1700 AD and Vanchiyur Karthiyani Amma who was born around 1880.
From the 4th century B C, references are found to the practises of staging plays in natyashalas of temples.
Ample evidences of technical aspects described in the Natya Shastra can be seen in the sculpture at the Brihadeeswara temple at Thanjavur, Nataraja temple at Chidambaram, Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam and Thiruvannamalai temple.
Panini, the celebrated grammarian of the 6th century B C mentions 2 writers on dance, Silalin and Krusasva, both prior to Bharata. But their works are not available. Natya Shastra written between 2nd century B C and 2nd century A D is the earliest available treatise on dramaturgy.
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