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Is the Bharatanatyam Margam outdated?

April 13, 2012

The following is a compilation of the responses to the poll conducted by in March 2012.

The beauty of the Bharatanatyam Margam is that it is always open to innovation and experimentation. There is no way that it could be outdated. It depends on how the dancers approach it.
- Anonymous, Mar 13, 2012

Yes, I agree that we should return to the Bharatanatyam margam format that Madhavi used in Silapathikaram.
- Anonymous, Mar 14, 2012

Margam is a concept, a framework, a basic idea or one can say it is a well-thought-of plan to approach any Bharatanatyam recital with the sole intent of creating the Rasa. The Margam is relative and subjective, flexible enough to incorporate a variety of dance compositions set in the Bharatanatyam movement vocabulary. Of course the innovations should be effective enough to solve the purpose of any recital i.e Rasanishpatti.

So, the Margam is not merely a rule wherein one has to only perform the items as mentioned by the great Tanjore Quartette. They must've meant much more by defining the Margam and one has to understand it in-depth to realize its relativity and subjectivity so as to apply it in a perfectly balanced manner depending on so many factors like, the dancer herself/himself, the kind of stage, the kind of spectators, the occasion, the duration of a performance, technical side etc.

So, Margam (in my view) is an eternal concept, never to die, so that the dancer does not perform the dance items in a random manner. Simply to have a standard sequential rendering of any Bharatanatyam performance and to condition the mind of spectators/rasikas who are at the receiving end in a particular manner, to make the performance more meaningful.
- Priyanka Lalsare, Mar 15, 2012

Is life possible without water? BN is likewise without margam! Sometimes such thoughts and questions arise from either proponents who can’t do a margam properly or don't have the body, mind, spirit and substance to do so. In the last decade, many "failed" BN dancers (read fat, heavy, have beens, wannabes, can’t bend or execute a teermanam or even have basic musical sense), who have taken to innovation and experimentation, have resorted to this junking and debunking of tradition and smartly pose counter question: what is tradition? Margam is just 200 years old.., etc. To such anti traditionalists, we sound purists and they think gender bender and environmental themes qualify as modern, as though Kalidas' Meghadootam was not about environment or love between genders! Why must such dancers use BN by way of a dance language, if their search is for something "new and modern"? Why depend on BN structure at all? Create your own. Margam is the soul and structure, substance and style of the form called BN. Asking if Margam is necessary shows how light is their material or quest.
- Ashish Khokar, Mar 16, 2012

Can someone post more on the devadasi margam that had 18 items? I am getting bored with the Tanjore Quartet innovations.
- Anonymous, Mar 18, 2012

Margam is essential from all aspects. A person learning classical BN must learn basic adavus, small korvais and margam. She or he becomes a full fledged dancer after carefully learning a margam only.
- Anonymous, Mar 20, 2012

Margam makes dance marga neat. Your presentation will have some meaning and variety. The structure is very neatly laid out for professionals. Well… creativity is your personal presentation. It will be nice to see our traditional performing art presented in a neat laid out form.
- Sai Venkatesh, Mar 21, 2012

I don't want to say anything about the margam (which does not exist and is not followed) because I don't support such innovations as thillanas, but one thing is clear: 90% of the rasikas leave immediately after varnam (the most boring item). Varnams have to be thrown out.
- Krupa, Mar 21, 2012

It is a prerogative of the audience to leave any time. Varnam is a good balance of abhinaya and nritta. People are very busy these days. They may be leaving because of their tight schedule OR they may be leaving because, they got what they want and they may not have time to sit through. Also, it depends on the artist, how they can make Varnam interesting. Varnam by definition has to be colorful. Krupa may be right, if the Varnam is not up to the mark, it will bring out the reality of the dancer, which may be boring and disappointing.
- Prasanna Kasthuri (May 2, 2012)

Margam is the root of the choreographic principles that are practiced through Bharatanatyam and the innovative pieces are its branches.
- Deepa Shivananda, Mar 27, 2012

The Margam is dead, long live the Margam!
- Veejay Sai, Bangalore
March 31, 2012

No one can remove Margam. Because, it is not a sequence of dance numbers. It is a sequence of human analysis. It is normality of relishing the movement and mind. People who relish may change the order, but in essence, they will follow the same rules of Margam, because, Margam looks like it is made from a psychological analysis. Margam is a best order of enjoyment of Bharatanatyam. It is a well-documented method. Those who feel it is unfitting, may change it. But even they will end up in the ‘Margam’ style without calling it ‘Margam’. It is just like "Old wine in new bottle". If changing the bottle makes you happy, please go ahead.
- Prasanna Kasthuri (May 2, 2012) far as I understand margam is a framework..a skeleton which any new performer can use to plan out his /her performance..what I guess could be outdated is the choice of songs/ themes..In my opinion there is much more to a nayika than haplessly lamenting to a sakhi about a lover's betrayal..about pining to meet the about depicting something which a woman or man of today could identify herself/himself with and of course a lot of dancers out there are already making that..there is a balance which one has to strike between the classes and the masses...
- Rupa Gopinath (Dec 27, 2013)

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