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Kalakshetra style and the snow storm

       Bharata Natyam, like all Indian Classical dance forms,  has several styles, or schools. While all schools present performances using the same type of costumes and the same major characteristics of the dance, there are many differences.
Today we will refer to the style we studied: Kalakshetra. Our teacher, Jayalakshmi Eshwar is a product of this legendary school and she performed her Arangetram in front of the founder of the school, Rukmini Devi Arundale. Rukmini Devi herself studied with Mylapore Gauri Ammal, in the Pandanallur style. She later refined the style and made it more acceptable for wider audiences.  The work of Rukmini Devi tremendously helped the dance form make the transition from a neglected art to the vibrant, still relevant classical art that it is today.

Yesterday I danced and taught a dance class at the Children\’s museum in Portland. There was a special focus on India and it was charming to introduce Bharata Natyam to curious lovely children. More about that in the next post.
It is winter here in Maine and stories of dance lore from times long past present an interesting contrast to the weather outside. Today we have yet another snow storm. The snow has been falling beautifully for several hours now. It is relentless. Somehow it reminds me of the monsoon rains in Delhi, that used to last for days without end. Fortunately, we have a nice fire crackling in the wood stove.(And no rain water dripping on the walls.)

 From prayer in the temple, to performing art on stages around the world, Bharata Natyam is like a living organism, always moving on, in many ways staying the same, and in minute details forever evolving. Just a few years ago, learning about the classical dance form on a computer, in any part of the world would have been impossible. But despite the advances of technology, nothing can replace the special relation between teacher and student.

Bharata Natyam is now being presented and taught in all corners of the world. And somewhere, Rukmini Devi must be smiling.

To find out more about Kalakshetra and Rukmini Devi Arundale, check out:


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