The Music Academy library is presently undergoing extensive digitisation and cataloguing. The process has resulted in some treasures resurfacing and one of these is a book on Bharatanatyam. Booklet would perhaps be more appropriate for it comprises a mere 14 pages or so. But it is historically significant for it probably is the oldest surviving Bharatanatyam brochure. The Music Academy began the practice of publishing souvenirs for its music festivals in 1935. This is just a year later - dating to December 27, 1936.
The dance performance by Varalakshmi and Bhanumati of Kumbakonam had Papanasam Vadivelu Pillai as the nattuvanar. The inner pages give details of the bill of fare – alarippu, jatisvara in Vasanta and tisra tala, sabdam in Khambodi set to misra tala, swarajati in Husseni in tisra tala, padams in Kalyani/rupakam, Ananda Bhairavi/tisra triputa and Saveri/adi, javali (Behag/rupakam), tillana, Jayadevar ashtapadi and a sloka from the Krishnakarnamrta. The important pieces have their lyrics given in full, with translation in English. Those with solfa syllables and pure nritta pieces have explanatory notes on what they are. The publication was one of the Music Academy’s several attempts at bringing to the fore the beauty and significance of South Indian classical dance.
(‘The birth of Bharatanatyam’ by V. Sriram, The Hindu, Dec 15, 2016)

In the 1930s, the dance rechristened itself as Bharata Natyam. This was probably in 1932 when we first see this term being used to refer to what was earlier termed variously as Nautch / Sadir / Dasi Attam. Much later, the Music Academy would take credit for coining Bharata Natyam as would others but a resolution to name dance this way does not survive in the Academy archives. Suffice it to say that by the time Varalakshmi and Bhanumati danced on December 27, 1936, it was firmly termed a Programme of Bharata Natyam.
(‘The birth of Bharatanatyam’ by V. Sriram, The Hindu, Dec 15, 2016)

(Courtesy ‘Dances of the world on postage stamps,’ Alkis Raftis)

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