MYTH*ING LINKS
An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links
to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore,
Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Pacifica Graduate Institute

GEOGRAPHICAL REGIONS

INDIA


Sacred Theatre & Dance:
General


The Gopis dancing around Krishna
(India: 19th century)

India Times: All About Emotions

14 June 2001 -- Note: I only put my page online a few days ago but just discovered last night that India Times has abruptly pulled all their dance links with no warning, no forwarding service, no nothing!  I immediately sent them an angry e-mail of protest.  It took me many hours to grok and annotate their many links on this page and it's maddening to have it all wiped out only hours later.  If/when I get an update from them, I'll change the 14 links.  In the meantime, fortunately I took quotes from those vanished pages so I'm leaving my annotations intact.
In Greek tragic theatre, pity and fear predominate, leading to a temporary catharsis, or purging, of overweening human pride, or hubris; in Greek comic theatre, a lighter note was struck but the underlying presence (and folly) of hubris was rarely absent.

On the other hand, in ancient Hindu dance/drama (Natya), many, many more emotions, or rasas, were involved -- these were skillfully woven into a series of moods leading, ideally, not to the purging of human pride but, rather, to a transformative experience of numinosity, the adbhuta rasa, or the experience of a mystical soaring into higher realms.  In the Hindu view, humans were trapped, not in pride doomed to be punished by the gods but, rather, in ignorance of humanity's innate perfection and divinity.  Hindu dance/drama helped free the soul by revealing, however briefly, that higher perspective.

This brief page from India Times only hints at these wider, deeper dimensions, which is why I've tried to provide a fuller context:

...The nine sentiments: According to Indian criticism, there are nine sentiments or rasas - the erotic (shringara), the humorous (hasya), the pathetic (karuna), the impetuous (raudra), the heroic (vira), the terrific (bhayanaka), the odious (bibhatsa), the mysterious (adbhuta) and the peaceful (shanta). They induce the manifest moods (bhavas). These comprise nine permanent (sthayi) and thirty-three transient (sanchari) moods....
(Note: India Times should win an award for the most impossibly long URLs on the web.  That's why I'm only giving their titles on my page, not their URLs.)
http://www.webindia123.com/dances/abhinaya/sattwik%20abhinaya.htm
This is Web India's page on the rasa-s (see above) -- each one is illustrated with a facial photo.
http://www.artindia.net/rasa.html
[Added 3 October 2010]: Another site on the rasa-s.  Its title is "SRINGAR RASA IN ODISSI DANCE IN GLOBAL ERA & 21st CENTURY."  Here is a fine passage on the philosophy of emotions from its opening:
The universal but unique phenomenon known as dance springs from man's innermost creative impulses, religious urges, emotions and sensibilities. The aesthetic foundations of this Indian art form are laid on the rock foundations of spiritual sadhana or rigorous discipline leading to mokshya or liberation. Aesthetics as a branch of Philosophy enquires into the ultimate cause and source of dance and its imotional content and significance as a thing of beauty and joy forever. Dance manifested through rhythmic movements is sensous, but the experince of ananda (bliss) in it is transcendental and spiritual. In Indian aesthetic rasa (mood) or flavour, as the cause of ananda (bliss), is central and fundamental. It is also the essence of beauty and harmony. The ultimate Reality, or Brahman, both in its impersonal aspects, is Sachidanda (sat, chit, ananda), that is he is Existence Consciousness-Bliss absolute. Ananda (bliss) and Rasa (sentiment) are two aspects of the same Reality. Therefore God is Rasa as well....
India Times: Dance As Tradition
This is a brief little page on traditions associated with India's sacred dance/drama:
...The dancer enters, dressed in a resplendent costume. Adorned with sparkling jewelry and an elaborate and bejeweled coiffure, her face is serene. For her, the rest of the evening would be a devotional offering and with each of the myriad roles she would essay a profound communion with the Gods....
India Times: The Meaning of Gestures
The lovely gestures expressed in India's dance come from very ancient times and have been carefully passed from generation to generation, each gesture rich with nuance and history:
...It is remarkable that the dance-language and its vocabulary has continued unhindered through the two millennia. Indian classical dancers till today follow the basic Natya Shastra tenets with undiminished ardour. The dance vocabulary was made more elaborate by referring to the movements of other parts of the body like the head, neck, chest, flank, arm, wrist, waist, stomach and the knee, as well as the glance, eyebrow and eyelid, eyeball....
India Times: Abhinaya
This brief page looks at the four main elements of India's dance/drama, including body, voice, eyes, and external "theatrical" elements such as costume, makeup, sets, and so forth.
India Times: Ritual Performances
This too-brief page from India Times looks at the intersection between ritual and performance:
...Vedic rituals and sacrifices have, over time, assumed the form of codified or structured actions. Indian theatre may have evolved from the ancient practice of sacrifice to gods. Koothiyattam, for instance, is considered a form of visual sacrifice. The performance aesthetics are designed to please the gods who will, in turn, offer their blessings....

Dancer from the early Indus Valley Civilization
(c. 2500 BCE)
Bronze
India Times: The Roots
This is a brief look at the roots of India's dance/drama in the Indus Valley:
...Dance was a part of the art of dramatic theatre in ancient India, particularly in non-Aryan, primarily Dravidian societies. The oldest evidence of this cultural inclination was the discovery of the bronze figurine of a dancer from the The Indus Valley Civilisation excavations at Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. She is exquisitely poised, one hand on her hip, her body in tribhangi, a curve with the weight resting on one leg, hip out-thrust....
http://indianculture.about.com/culture/indianculture/library/weekly/aa032101a.htm?terms=z1
This is an excellent 3-part essay on "Classical Dances of India" by about.com's guide to Indian culture, Pallavi Srivastava.  I especially like her opening page because of its data on the important origin myth:
...The oldest treatise on Indian dance and drama is dated c. 2nd century BC - 2nd century AD.  The Sanskrit text, called Natya Shastra, is said to have been composed by ancient sage Bharat Muni. Its 36 chapters detail minute aspects of music, dance, stage setting, poetry, costumes and make-up.

Legend has it that Brahma, the creator of universe, composed a fifth Veda out of the existing four in order to entertain the gods, demons and humans. He then taught it to Bharat Muni, who wrote the treatise on it. The sage is also believed to have staged the first play, enacted by his 100 sons and celestial maidens. Titled Amrita Manthana, the play depicted the mythological churning of the Milk Ocean and was enacted in the amphitheater of the Himalayas. Shiva was so pleased with the performance that he sent his disciple Tandu to teach the finer aspects of dance to Bharat Muni....

(Note: on the following two pages, Srivastava looks at some of India's major dance traditions.)
http://www.boloji.com/dances/history.htm
This is "History of Dance and Its Significance Today" by dancer Shreelata Suresh.  It's a basic overview, beginning with the roles of Brahma and Shiva in the origin myth for dance/drama.  About Shiva, for example, she writes eloquently:
...Shiva, the Lord of dance is said to have created the Universe with his Ananda Tandavam, or the dance of joy. It is He we see dancing in the rise and the fall of the waves in the oceans, in the volcanoes and the earthquakes, in the rotation of the planets and the stars. In the lighting and the thunder. All movements within this cosmos is said to be His dance....
She also looks at traditions of dancers in the context of early and contemporary history.
http://www.boloji.com/dances/tat.htm
This is "Tradition & Transition," a chatty, lively, sometimes acerbic, and always interesting page on the more recent history of Indian dance and dancers by critic and dance historian Ashish Khobar.  It has great photos too.
http://kpoursine.web.wesleyan.edu/bhhist.htm
This is "A Brief History of Classical Dance from South India," excerpted from Jon Borthwick Higgins' 1973 Ph.D. thesis.  He looks briefly at a flowering of dance in the 9th and 10th centuries, and then he provides a more detailed look at events of the 19th and 20th centuries:
...Many devadasis ["servants of god"] may have been bright and able artists, but by the end of the 19th century they were no longer respected members of the Indian social community. It took the combined zeal of Christian missionaries and morality-conscious Hindus to finally tip the balance against devadasis. It must be admitted that many prostitutes on the fringe of the devadasis community had taken up "nautch-dancing", an impoverished and conspicuously sexual version of the classical dance, to attract business. And the reform minded zealots who led the anti-nautch campaign were hardly disposed to make fine distinctions between one form of the accursed dance, and another.  "It was beyond the conception of the Victorian Christian to imagine that faith could be expressed through so immodest and voluptuous a medium as the 'nautch dance'."(Singha)

Few realized that the authentic lineage of classical dance, while temporarily shamed and driven underground during this unseemly commotion, was being preserved among certain artistically distinguished families. Several of the great teachers (nattuvanars), some quite old, who carried the knowledge and substance of the art in their heads, "lived neglected lives in remote villages." (Singha) This was a difficult time for such people, and were it not for the courageous and persistent efforts of a handful of supporters, the art might well have been totally suppressed....


Sacred Dance/Drama:
Sites Covering a Collection of Traditions


(Courtesy of Boloji.com -- used with permission)

http://www.webindia123.com/dances/frontpage.htm

This is Web India's excellent collection of major traditions.  Most pages are well illustrated and nicely detailed.  Many are linked to more Web India pages (with great data on technique, performances, costumes, texts, etc) for those who wish to explore further.  In addition to individual traditions, the "Basics of Dance" section has some excellent pages full of photos depicting rasas and mudras common to many of India's dance traditions.  (Note: you'll need to keep clicking on links at the bottom of the pages as there's no overall site map).
http://www.kalanation.com/articles/dance/index.asp
From Kala Nation comes a handsome site exploring the following traditions: Bharata Natyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohini Attam, and Odissi.  Further dance categories include Film, Western, Modern, Fusion, and Folk.  Each page gives only a sample of what's there -- click on "More" at the bottom for the rest -- and at the bottom of that page you might find more links (I couldn't an overall site map).  If you click on individual thumbnails of the artists (called "Celebrity Citizens"), you'll go to a page with a detailed biography.   Data isn't as comprehensive as Web India's but it's definitely one of the better sites.
http://chandrakantha.com/articles/indian_music/nritya.html
For those seeking a more academic approach with depth and thoroughness, try this site from David Courtney Ph.D.  He explores the following  traditions: Bharat Natyam, Kathak, Odissi, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam, Andhra Natyam, and Folk Dance.  You can listen to Indian music on the site, order relevant CDs, books, and videos on Indian dance from Amazon.com, or check the fine links provided by Dr. Courtney and his wife Chandrakantha.  As you would expect of an academic site, there is also a great list of Works Cited.
http://www.umich.edu/~hindu/dance/dance1.htm
This is the University of Michigan's series of entry-level pages on various dance traditions of India (I have a direct link to the one on Manipuri -- you're on your own for the others <smile>). I'm disappointed that a major university chose not to create something deeper and more comprehensive, but the pages are still attractive and useful.
http://www.connectindia.com/Introduction.htm
This is the "Introduction" to dance from Connect India.  At the bottom are links to various specific dance traditions:   |   Bharat  Natyam  |   Kuchipudi  |   Mohini Attam  |   Kathakali |  Odissi  |   Manipuri  |   Kathak  |   Chhau.
(I have an annotated link to the Manipuri page (scroll down my page).  Of the other pages I checked, data is quite brief but the photos, although often fuzzy, are still nice.)
http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/~sundar/dance/
This is a no frills site from N.S. Sundar at Ohio State.  Some categories have fine text and photos, others have great photos and minimal text, others have photos only.  Traditions include Bharata Natyam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Kudiyattam, and Manipuri.
http://www.boloji.com/dances/
This is the overall "Dances of India" index for Boloji -- I've annotated about half of these articles in the next section, but there are still many left for your browsing -- both in English and Hindi.  These pages are generally lengthy, impressive, and well illustrated.

Sacred Dance/Drama:
Specific Traditions
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BHARATA NATYAM

Bharata Natyam Dancer
(see directly below)
http://myweb.vector.ch/dubey/
If you click on the opening photo, you'll go to "Gayathri Keshavan," a gallery of clickable photos of a dancer trained in the Bharata Natyam tradition.  There are 12 pages with 8 images per page.  Unfortunately, there's no text to explain the significance of the poses. (Note: the above photo has disappeared from this site.)
http://encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?ti=0B276000
From Encarta Encyclopedia comes a lucid little essay on Bharata Natyam:
Bharata Natyam, one of the oldest dance styles of India. It has its roots in the classical dance tradition of Tamil Nadu in southern India that was performed regularly as part of religious rituals, court ceremonies, weddings, and other important social occasions....
The essay concludes with the following:
...After gaining independence from Britain in 1947, many Indians looked to their own cultural roots in dance and music. At this time the dance which had been known by various names, such as sadir, dasi-attam, and adal, became bharata natyam (the dance of Bharata, a 6th-century scholar who wrote the first Indian treatise on dance and drama). Now, bharata natyam has become an accepted part of arts education in India and can be studied throughout the West....
India Times: Bharata Natyam - Charisma
This is a good page by Nitya Ramachandran on Bharata Natyam's history, style, schools, costumes, performances, and much more:
Born in the heart of Tamil Nadu, Bharata Natyam is a dance form that has seen a lot, done a lot and consequently is the most charismatic of all the classical dance siblings. It's also the most popular, having admirers across the seas....
http://kpoursine.web.wesleyan.edu/bharata.htm
This is a brief page on Bharata Natyam from Kay Poursine:
...Bharata Natyam is perhaps the oldest of the four major dance forms of India. It is indigenous to Southern India (Tamilnad), particularly the city of Madras (capital of Tamilnad). It is performed by a solo female dancer who portrays all the characters in the performance, drawing from the entire mythology of Hindu religion (see Avatars), philosophy, Ramayana epics, from the Puranas (ancient stories), and from life experience. Natyam is generally understood to mean dance, although the literal translation is drama....
If you're interested in hand gestures, click on the large opening photo for a larger closeup that clearly shows the pollen-gathering-bee-in-the-lotus position.  The page is brief but offers links to other pages, including Poursine's bio.  Another direct link is below....
http://kpoursine.web.wesleyan.edu/intro.htm
This is a much more detailed page from Kay Poursine on the visual and aural aspects of Bharata Natyam:
...The traditionally conservative South maintained a style closely related to the type of dancing mirrored in temple sculpture during more than two thousand years of recorded movement in stone. The great wonder of Indian dance is that it can be both an act of religious devotion and a superb entertainment at the same time. In a successful performance, philosophy and human emotion blend in a subtle combination which gives a special flavor to every sound and movement. The aural aspect of a concert is as important as the visual....
http://www.boloji.com/dances/uniart.htm
"A Universal Art" is dancer Alexandra Ramanova's essay on her personal relationship with Bharata Natyam.  There are 4 lovely photos along with technical data.  What I found most interesting was her comment on the bent-knee position:
...I would like to focus an attention on the arai mandi (half bent knees position) that is the basic of Bharatanatyam. After years of practice I discovered, that the bent knees position, striking the floor plus warmed up body stimulate certain functions in the spinal cord. It influences us in a similar way as some of Yoga asanas. As a result the consciousness of a dancer easily becomes focused and is being elevated slowly on a higher level....
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ODISSI

An Odissi Dancer
(Used with permission -- see Boloji site directly below)
http://www.boloji.com/dances/odissi.htm
Among India's many dance forms, Odissi is lyrical, curving, flowing; Bharata Natyam is more angular and athletic.  This is a fine essay by Ramendra Kumar, "Odissi, A Tribute to Divinity":
...Odissi is not merely a dance form. It is a synthesis of beauty, grace, rhythm, melody, spirituality and devotion. It provides a feast for the eyes, music for the ears and succor for the soul. Through this dance, the danseuse pays obeisance to the Lord in all his myriad manifestations. In essence this unique dance form is a tribute to divinity.
IndiaTimes: Odissi - Sensuality In Motion
From India Times and Nitya Ramachandran comes another good essay on the history and practice of the dance form known as Odissi:
...The basic stance of Odissi is called chauk - feet turned out and kept two feet apart, knees bent slightly. What lends Odissi its sensuousness is the tribhangi or the three-way bend of the body. The head is tilted to one side, the torso in the opposite direction and the legs follow the head. The dancers use a lot of torso movement and movements on the heel, called gothi. Strangely enough, though the feet are stamped hard and the legs are firm, the body has an exquisite grace....

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MOHINIATTAM


Mohini Attam Dancer, Sunanda Nair
(Used with permission -- see Boloji site directly below)
http://www.boloji.com/dances/mohiniattam.htm
From the southwestern coastal state of Kerala comes the tradition of "Mohiniattam: The Dance of the Enchantress."  This is a lovely, long page on Mohiniattam by Sunanda Nair, herself a dancer deeply steeped in this tradition.  I especially love this dance's origin myth because of its understanding that only a divine enchantress can cope with certain "demons."  Mohini is, in this, sister to the Arabian Nights' Scheherazade, who also understands the crucial role of beauty and story in enchanting her demon, the Sultan:
...The Indian mythology mentions a few times when Lord Vishnu...assumes the form of Mohini to save the Gods from their clash with the Asuras or demons. In one instance the Gods and demons were churning the mighty ocean for the pot of nectar (amrita), with the serpent Vasuki twined around the mountain Mandaragiri. The ocean brought out all the treasures buried in its depth, while the Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) churned on and on. Finally when the pot of nectar appeared, the demons true to their nature grabbed it. The universe would be in total darkness if the demons had their way. It is at this moment the Lord, assumes the form of Mohini to save the Universe from the hands of the demons and total darkness.
      The tinkling sound of bells, the sweet smell of flowers, the divine being, the beauty unparalleled -The Enchantress. The one, who could take your minds away from the present to another world of beauty and charm. The lotus eyed one dancing gently and gracefully filling the atmosphere with unsurpassed heavenly beauty. The demons true to her instructions shut their eyes to relinquish and behold the beauty they envisioned. She is Mohini the celestial dancer, one who has come to enchant....
http://www.boloji.com/dances/mohiniattam2.htm
This is "Thoughts on Mohinattam" by Pallavi Krishnan, another dancer/teacher trained in this form.  Her focus is more historical, which makes this a great companian piece to the above site:
Mohiniattam is one of the most lyrical classical dance forms of India, originating from Kerala. The word Mohini stands for an enchantress, a beautiful woman who seduces others for a particular purpose. Attam means dance. So Mohiniattam is the dance of the enchantress.
     The earliest known textual reference about Mohiniattam is found in a commentary on the Vyavaharamala, a Sanskrit text written by Mazhamangalam Namboodiri during the 16th century....
India Times: Mohiniattam Magic
This is a briefer, but still useful page on coastal Kerala's Mohiniattam, "the baby of Indian classical dance family - barely 300-years-old....", by Nitya Ramachandran:
...Like the rest of the country, Kerala too had its class of Devadasis who had developed a certain style of dance. However, in 18th century, the rulers of Kerala, called Perumal, were not natives of the state but elected from the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. They brought with them a harem of Tamil beauties, including dancers. The Devadasis of Kerala learnt from these dancers and adapted their own style, which was named Mohiniattam....

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KATHAKALI


King Lear done in Kathakali-style
(From Boloji -- used with permission)

India Times: Kathakali: The Dance Of The Gods
Again from the coastal state of Kerala comes Kathakali, a dance form done by men only and dedicated to epics about the gods:
...Kathakali is considered the most resplendent. It has a distinct vocabulary and is performed with special masks and make-up.... Here the Gods are personified and entire episodes from the epics enacted all through the night....

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MANIPURI

"Ras Lila has merged into the Manipuri society to a great extent.  The Ras costumes and ornaments of Sri Radhika and the Gopies are colorful and handsome. The skirt the present day Ras dancers wear is modeled on the one the Maharaja Bhagya Chandra(1763-1798) saw in his dream."  [From Manipuri -- see below]
http://www.artindia.net/manipuri.html
This is a brief entry-level page from Art India:
...Manipur literally means a jewel of a land, and the state is set like a gem in the verdant hills. The legend goes that the gods drained a lake in the beautiful countryside in order to find a place to dance. No wonder then, that dance is an inherent part of the rituals of daily life, such as weddings and homage to ancestors....
http://www.manipuri.20m.com/
This is a carefully researched site on Manipuri with a series of fine photos (see above).  There isn't a great deal of data on each specific subsection, but the overall content is excellent.  To give you an idea of the site's range, here are its subsections: Classical Manipuri Dance Forms | Aryan Forms | Mongoloid Elements | The Rasa Dance | Pala Kirtana | Rakhal Dance | Pung cholom | Khamba Thobi | Maibi Dance | Thabal Chunbi | Other Forms | Contributions of Rabindranath Tagore | Famous Artists | Related Links.
India Times: Manipuri - Mystery And Grace
This is another entry-level page on Manipuri dances from northeast India:
...Built around Manipuri songs on the Radha-Krishna love theme, Manipuri dance is also rooted in Manipur's own martial arts of Thang-Ta and the old ritualistic dance of Lai Haroba....
http://www.narthaki.com/manipuri/manipuri.htm
This is a brief descriptive page about several variants of Manipuri dancing, including the rasalilas:
...Intensely devotional in mood, the Manipuri dances are a part of the daily life of the Manipuri people....The dances are influenced by the religious movement of Vaishnavism, the worship of Lord Vishnu, and have flowered in exquisite Rasalila performances, the favourite dance in a circle by Krishna with his milkmaids. Various types of Rasalilas are performed on special occasions and festivals....
...Gossamer veils, cylindrical mirrored skirts and ornaments dazzle the audiences with their colourful costumes which create a dream-like effect.
http://www.webindia123.com/dances/Manipuri/manipuri.htm
This Web India site offers a brief, clear breakdown of three of the major narrative strands found in Manipuri dances:
...There is a belief that Radha and Krishna were the original author and creator of Manipuri Dance. This Rasa -dance was repeated by Uma and Shiva in Lasya style in Manipur. After many centuries the same Rasa-dance was performed the third time by two mortal human beings, princess Toibi and Khamba. These two star-crossed lovers died in tragic circumstances. The dance that these two lovers performed is known as Lai Haraoba.... (See link directly below for more on these lovers.)
At the bottom of the page are further Web India links to Manipuri costumes, literature, history, technique, and more.
http://manipuri.stormloader.com/
This is a no frills site on Manipuri dance -- it provides more detail on the history and stories behind some of these dances, especially the above-mentioned "star-crossed lovers."  There's also an intriguing little passage on the Maibi dance:
... the Maibis, the priestesses considered to be spritural mediums, trace through their dances the whole concept of cosmogony of the Meitei people and describe their way of life....
http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/2261/
This is a pleasant little site with good photos from someone who obviously loves the Manipuri region of India.  From this page you can connect to more of the site's pages on Manipuri traditions, including the Maibi dance, mentioned above.  Of the pages I checked, each provided at least one colorful, interesting, and good-sized photo.
http://www.connectindia.com/manipuri.htm
From Connect India comes a brief, illustrated page on variants of Manipuri dance.  Photos are pretty, albeit a bit fuzzy.  I liked the mention of the mythic gandharvas, who play ambiguous roles in some Churning of the Ocean myths:
The Manipuris have song and dance woven into their life and regard themselves as the descendents of the gandharvas. Their love for dance reflects their rich lore of legend and mythology....
http://www.umich.edu/~hindu/dance/manipuri.htm
This is the Manipuri page from the University of Michigan's series of brief, entry-level pages on India's various dance traditions.  I like it because it gives additional data on the mythic origins as well as the connection to the gandharvas:
Manipuri dance is a generic name and covers all the dance forms of this land. According to legend, Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati danced in the valleys of Manipuri to the accompaniment of the Ghandharvas to the celestial light of Mani (jewel) from the head of the Atishesha, a serpant and that is how it has come to be called Manipuri....
http://poushali.tripod.com/Indiandance/
This site on Manipuri dance has minimal text but don't miss the exquisitely haunting photo of dancer Poushali Chatterjee.
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KATHAK


Kathak Dancer, Rani Khanam
(Used with permission -- see Boloji site below)

India Times: Kathak - Sparkling Footwork
This brief page looks at Kathak, a dance from northern India:
...The beauty of Kathak dance lies in its sparkling footwork to split-second rhythms, accompanied by facial gestures and hand-movements. The dance is based squarely on the light classical genre of Hindustani music of north India....
http://www.boloji.com/dances/kathak.htm
From dancer Rani Khanam (see photo above) comes an essay, "Reuniting Katha-Vaachan with Kathak":
...Evidences suggest that during the fifth and sixth century in Mathura and its surrounding areas, there used to be performances in the form of plays based on Krishna narrating Krishna Katha in the form of another dance form known as Raaslila. These plays aimed at narrating the story and life of Krishna to common people....

INDIA:
Sacred Theatre


Four-headed Brahma,
who created India's Natya, or sacred theatre, and wrote the first script;
Shiva would later add the element of dance.
(9th-10th centuries: Java -- source unknown)

India Times: Religion & Theatre / Folk Theatre / Theatre & Its Development

Separating dance from theatre creates an artificial distinction since Natya includes both -- for ancient India viewed dance as impossible without drama, and drama as impossible without dance.  Nevertheless, in later times, the two elements take on their own individual identities, much as in the West.

This page looks at links connected to each of the above three subsections.  There is a great deal here -- really marvelous data on various forms of theatre, ancient and new, popular and obscure.  Just click on each subsection and then click on the links contained within these.  (Navigation is awkward because you have to click on a link before you can access still more links -- a site map doesn't exist here.)

India Times: It All Began Here
This brief, but fine little page is another one that looks at how ancient drama began.  The essay is by Sunalini Isaacs and includes history, themes, rituals, genres, the performance, the theatre and its stage:
...In the classical Indian playhouse, gems were placed in the foundation. A diamond in the east, lapis lazuli in the south, quartz in the west, coral in the north and gold in the centre....

...The Stage: Represented the "micro replica" of the universe. The center represents the center of the universe. It corresponds to the place of Brahma....


Reference Books on India

http://www.vedamsbooks.com/dance.htm

From Vedams Books comes a comprehensive list of books on dance and drama available online from India.  Many of these are unavailable elsewhere.  (Not listed but probably available through Vedams is one of my own favorites: M. L. Varadpande, History of Indian Theatre, Abinhav Publications, 1987.)
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Also see related Myth*ing Links pages:

Geographical Regions / India: Vak & the Churning of the Ocean

Common Themes, East & West: Sacred Theatre & Dance

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© 2001 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
Designed & published in the wee hours of  6-7 June 2001.
Latest Updates:
8-10 June 2001; 14 June 2001.

5 December 2007: added new Vak / Churning of Ocean link; no time for links check.

3 October 2010: added a new link near the beginning.  No time for a links check but did look at Web Archive to see if India Times pages have turned up there yet.  They haven't, but I tried several links and that might catalyze interest at Web Archive  -- they have nearly 4000 Times India links and should really have these dance-focused ones as well!  Here's hoping!

[A Green Man of India]