SMT. Thankamani Kutty, wonderful both as an artiste and a teacher of Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam, has planned this book for the young ones who want to take their first steps in the exquisite dance form, Bharatanatyam which has no parallel in this country. I know of no other person who is better equipped than her for this job. She knows the form inside out, and she is as expressive on stage, in bringing out the unchanted sources of grace and majesty of it, as she is before her students who are electrified by her distinctive style of teaching.
Indian dance, in all its classical and regionam varieties, is now a part of world culture, and is being accepted far beyond the nationam boundaries of the county, not only by immigrant Indians, but also by people of land who have little knowledge of, or exposure to, Indian culture. This shown that dance, along with music, is the most universal art form and can break the cultural barriers more easily than the rest. I therefore think it an excellent idea to write a simple manual in English, in which short, easy steps are shown towards achieving a credible command on these dance forms. Dance of course is more of a "Gurumukhi Vidya" (Guru-dependant discipline) than any other such arts, but oral tradition has long since been replaced by literate and lately, printed tradition and one must take all the advantages available in the form of media for communicating to a wider audience. A book on dance, particularly an intricate dance form like Bharatanatyam, does not lead to the mastery of the form automatically, nor does anyone harbour any illusion about that. But a book such as this is still a big help saver of time and effort, as it provides access to information that can be used absorbed even when one is not practising.
Amt. Kutty has a five job in writing this book. Her presentation is lucid and business like and I am sure young aspirants in Bharatanatyam will benefit immensely this book their constant companion.
The word Bharatanatyam, today, is synonymous with the illustrious personamity, an institution by herself, the beholder of the pride of our Indian culture in the highest esteem, Guru Smt. Thankamani Kutty Tracing back to the year 1958, just newly married, she arrived at Kolkata. The next ten years was a time for extensive performances, evolving a unique style of her own; initiating the preparation for the establishment of one of the biggest grooming grounds for young buds; nurturing them to blossom and spread the essence of a classical dance form. 1968 was the year which witnessed the establishment of Kalamandalam Kolkata, which went on to become a pioneering organisation for classical dance arts in the Eastern Region of India., promoting the dance forms Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali. In collaboration with her husband, Late Guru Govindan Kutty, the Kathakali Exponent, her staunch, her staunch dedication, innate strength and undeterred determination made the institution grow in leaps and bounds. Her significant performances in India and abroad have been thoroughly and consistently inspirationam to all art lovers. In Bengal, Kalamandalam is the first of its kind generating interest, inspiring endeavours and in the process, contributing immensely to make this ancient classical dance form a household name, making, it an integral part of child education specially in Bengal. For decades, her inspirationam work has spread the importance of the Indian performing art & culture in every home, instilling in her pupils the ideals of spiritualism that this ancient art is associated with.
At no stage in the history of making have people universally taken so much of interest in the classical dances.
Long strides have taken in every field of human endeavour, so it is but natural that these disciplines should reflect the ago. A standardised and systematic approach toward understanding these disciplines, is essential for further improvement.
In my long experience as a teacher of the dance form of Bharatanatyam. I have not know of any attempt having made so far, to standardise a syllabus for beginners, ensuring discipline, which is an indispensable part of learning, the basics of the said art form.
I have also realized that it is not enough for the teacher alone to know what is to be taught to the pupils at different levels. The teaching and learning process combine to create a common sharing ground of knowledge for teachers and pupils alike, when the made aware of the programme that the teacher intends to follow, in advance. The goes a long way towards creating a good teacher-student relationship.
I have written this book, based on the carefully formulated course of teaching that I have followed and have mainly adhered to Bharata's Natya Sastra', Nandikeswara's Abhinaya Darpana' and other books that I have used as reference.
My aim has been, to guide a sincere enthusiast of Bharatanatyam through the very basics of the form and thus to prepare hum/her for the advanced stage of learning.
I also hope that my endeavour to systematize the general education of our classical arts would be beneficial of all the aspirants of Bharatanatyam and to the lovers of this art form. I aspire to bring about the basic schooling of Bharatanatyam, so that the outcome of the much devoted and painstaking practice does not go wasted.
I greatly acknowledge the encouragement received from Respected Sri Pabitra Sarkar, the Vice-Chancellor of Rbindra harati University, Calcutta.
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