Monday, October 31, 2011

WHY DOES THE INDIAN OR BHARATHA NATYA DANCER'S MAKEUP ADD AGE TO DANCER'S FACE?

I recently saw my eight year old neice  in her Bharatha Natya outfit (clothes, jewels, makeup including makeup for eyes). She is a beautiful young kid who looks like any other eight year old in her usual clothes.
She however looked so much older when she had Bharath Natya gear on ! I simply did not like how old she looked ! She did look very pretty but so much older than her eight years !

Analyzing what contributed to her 'older' look, I find these things to be the culprits contributing to her aged look: The lines drawn around her eyes; the head jewels and her single plait(two plaits make a child look young while one plait, with central parting makes one look older); her Bharatha Natya  costume itself made her appear older as it is designed for a woman's body  than a child's; the oiled or gelled hair  under the burden of so many jewels such as the Chandra, Surya and the long thing on her parting in addition to the two pieces running along the two sides of her head ( I cannot find  names of these jewels on the internet !)

I wish the dance teachers of Indian dances made changes to the clothes worn by the dance students.  There has simply been no change or evolution to the Indian Classical  dance style....no change in the clothes and jewels, no change in the music and also in the steps, since ......ever since I can remember i.e. at least 2-3 decades !

I have seen the changes and evolving of other dance types for example the dances which fuse eastern and western styles, eastern and western musical instruments, etc......but there seems to be no growth happening where Bharath Natya is concerned. Is it because the dance professionals believe that change is wrong? I do not know. But I wish they did change and incorporate the modern elements in the dance, music, clothes, make-up, themes, lyrics of the Bharatha Natya.

When I see little kids doing Bharatha Natya at various functions I clap dutifully at the end but I am not  really happy about so many aspects of the kids performances. It looks like the kids are performing very adult stuff especially some of the themes, stories and emotions depicted in the dances. It is not age appropriate and the little ones seem clueless about what they are doing(the emotions on their faces are all wrong or they are blank...especially the three and four year olds who perform on stages!)

I wish the Bharatha Natya dance Gurus came up with new dances and themes appropriate to the age of younger dancers i.e. kids. I also wish they changed the clothes and make up used on child dancers of Bharatha Natya.

My question to the Bharatha Natya Gurus is : Is change such a bad thing??? Does classical mean,  "To stagnate and never evolve"?

Some changes to the Bharatha Natya I can think of offhand, are :
  • If they could develop Bharath Natya  around themes which are contemperory, which  impart  modern values(such as gender equality, democracy, womens rights, etc) instead of continuing to dance to the age-old themes of  ancient mythology, Bharatha Natya  would be relevent and current today.
  • Instead of the exaggerated grimaces of the limited nava-rasas (i.e. 9 emotions) , they could incorporate a multitude of emotions, and express  in a subtle than the exaggerated styles of old!


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How to justify Krishna's stealing butter (one of the Bharatha Natya dance themes) to a child dancer of Bharatha Natya and also tell the same child that stealing is wrong?  While Krishna's stealing can be understood in a meaningful and different light by an adult, why confuse a child by telling it this story when it is too young to understand or asking it to dance a dance, which glorifies Krishna's stealing?

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