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A Scene From mandala
Issue : 158
Published on : November, 1997


Main Feature - Freedom Of The Arts - Part II; E Krishna Iyer Birth Centenary - A Special Report

Special Report


The Isai Velalar-s, consisting of the community of traditional dancers and nattuvanar-s, were virtually the sole practitioners of the art of the dance then known variously as Sadir, Dasiattam and Karnatakam. They represented the 'oral tradition' in the transmission of the art from one generation to the next, as distinguished from the textual tradition represented by treatises and commentaries. Hence the appellation of 'custodians of the art' used to describe them. They not only kept the art alive, but contributed variously to its development in terms of repertoire and stylistic changes. By the beginning of the 20th century, definitely, social disapproval of the dance of the devadasi-s and the system of dedication of girls as devadasi-s to temples, began to emerge, especially in the urban centres. This was linked to the perception of the devadasi system as an envelope for prostitution exploitative of women, initially among some Western observers and obliging officials of the British Raj.

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Main Feature

Main Feature - Freedom Of The Arts - Part II

After India got independence, we hoped that the Central and State governments would establish appropriate cultural organisations which would offer adequate facilities to young performing artists to help them cultivate their artistic and aesthetic sensibilities in their respective fields and also to rediscover and reidentify India's cultural heritage. Unfortunately, sufficient attention has not been paid to this aspect. Our expectations regarding the cultural growth have been only partially fulfilled. In the field of Manipuri dance, Gurudev Tagore incorporated the dance-form as a part of dance education. Uday Shankar included Manipuri dances in his presentations. The central Sangeet Natak Akademi set up the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipuri Dance Academy, in Imphal, Manipur. In subsequent years additional centres for teaching Manipuri dance were established in Imphal and some other cities in India.

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M.S. Natarajan: Respected Resource Person For The Arts

Natarajan was a versatile person very much involved in the cultural activities of Bangalore. He formed the musical ensemble that provided support to Ram Gopal in his dance performances. Named as the Saraswati orchestra, it comprised both vocalists and instrumentalists, like A. Subba Rao, Anoor Suryanarayana (vocal); Bagalur Krishnamurthy, M.P. Ram, Viswanath (violin); M.R. Doreswamy and Ramaswamy (flute); Veerabadriah, Krishna Pillai (mridanga); H.S. Shivram (tabla); Lingappa (clarionet); Rahim (sitar); 

Many of these musicians chose independent careers later and some of them distinguished themselves on the concert stage.

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