With her innovative creativity, Prathibha Prahlad, an outstanding exponent of Bharatanatyam, transcends the mechanical in the traditional framework. She brings to her dance an exciting insight that is a rare combination of talent, intellect and versatility. Her passionate belief in the strength of traditional forms combined with a contemporary understanding of both the print and television make her a modern-day arts crusader. She has been honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for her multi-faceted achievements.
Having said that, it would be unfair to not take into account the interesting and innovative work being by the present generation of danseuses' - be it Chandralekha, Alarmel Valli, Malavika Sarrukai, Leela Samson or Padma Subramanyam among others. They have dared to dream beyond the confines of perceived tradition to delve deeper into our roots explore dimensions of both the form and the content.
Not that all experimentation will work, for every successful attempt leaves in wake, hundreds of falled ones. But in no way does of the paths to the ultimate destiny. As they say, who can say what is the end? It is the path makes it worthwhile! This is exactly what we have tried to do in this publication - blend the perfection of tradition with the path of experimentation.
Written by one the more intellectually aware dancers of today, who is deeply rooted into the tradition, yet has the ability to soar into hitherto unexplored vistas, this book is a step further from the conventional approach to the form and its content. I would like to recount how it happened. At a dinner hosted by danseuse Shovana Narayan and her diplomat husband I was introduced to dancer Prathibha Prahlad. Of course I'd heard of her and seen her performer, but never met her. She was an amazingly bubbly and spontaneous person who exuded joy that emanated from within. Hearing her talk about Bharatanatyam with conviction sans aggression, was a delight and i knew that she was the person to do this book. Isn't that what life is all about - joy and passion? And an attempt to remove the masks behind which we all hide and be happy to come across as who you really are? It takes a lot of courage and a lot of living.
This book looks t Bharatanatyam from the inside and yet is detached enough to be objective. The form's strict codification by Rukmini Devi Arundale or the other gurus have ensured that the search for new dimensions remained within the confines of the acknowledged parameters. Not to suggest that it was a negative situation, but maybe the time has come to celebrate the from and to help extend the content's frontiers beyond the known.
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