My niece and all the little dancers were dressed up beyond recognition for a bharatanatyam performance. Face plastered with thick paint, the children struggled with the costume, heavy jewellery and head pieces. It all seemed like an extraordinary torture for a performance lasting a few minutes.
Something surely was amiss in how this great art form has evolved!! The costume and accessories cannot be so cumbersome as to hinder the dancer's ability to dance!
Balasaraswati, the last authentic stalwart of this dance form thrilled the audience with her enormous talent, energy and great skill for abhinaya. Her costumes were extremely simple. For her, dance was not just stage trappings, dance was an offering of the best in human endeavour of strength and agility of the body in a pure rhythmic flow. Dance was not just a show but worship in its purest form!
The legendary dancer Chandralekha also rejected the elaborate show that bharatanatyam had become. "I moved away not from dance but from the false values in dance today which has made it almost a spectacle. I seek to restore the vital link between body and nature, body and work, body and ritual. Life and art have to mix." - Chandralekha