Preface to the Second Edition
It is always gratifying for an author to known that a second edition of his book is needed or expected. In this case I am doubly gratified because between the writing and the publication of the first edition and today, many valuable and important monographs have appeared on Indian Classical Dance. In 1971, despite the valuable work of the early writers-coomaraswamy, Bharata Iyer, La Meri and the popular book of G. Banerjee, hardly anything was available for the general reader.
My attempt in the first edition was to introduce the classical or, what I have called, neo-classical dance forms, in a lucid manner for the 'enlightened reader'. Understandably, no attempt was made to go into the complex evolution of the dance forms in relation to the Indian aesthetic theory and the other arts, especially, those of architecture, sculpture and music. As I have stated in the introduction to the first edition, the attempt was to present, as clearly as possible, the literary, sculptural and epigraphic evidence of the region which form the basis of identifying the history of evolution, but would not, necessarily, be history itself. Also, the focus was on technique, the nature of movement, articulation, shape. Form, effort, energy rather than the repertoire with its literary or poetic content.
Over these two decades much has happened in the fields of both dance as performance as also classical dance as an ingredient of contemporary theatre. Alongside many monographs have appeared on specific dance styles. My own book has been followed by several others where an attempt has been made to probe deeper into the primary archaeological and literary sources as also the history of the relationship of dance and painting and dance as a most important and indispensable limb of traditional Indian theatre.
Logically, a second edition may have taken all these developments into account because the discovery of new manuscripts, of both sastras and kavya in Sanskrit and other languages as also hitherto unknown examples of mural paintings and a vast number of miniatures provide material for a better reconstruction of the history of Indian dance and its regional flowerings. Also, the dance performance itself has undergone a change on account of change of context, nature of audience, duration of performance and the training and intellectual equipment of the dancer. Cumulatively, this has brought about major transformations in technique, specially, in the aspect of the delivery of movement.
I have not attempted to take cognizance of all these changes, I would say, almost transformations. The new new-classical forms may today be called contemporary Indian dance with classical inspiration.
The first edition has been modified only to the extent of refinement of certain technical aspects of the styles as such. I hope that this edition will continue to interest the readers as a first introduction to the principal dance styles.
As I have had occasion to mention, here and elsewhere, the absence of a Chapter on Kuchipudi will be missed and its absence in the first edition has been commented upon. I was requested by many to add a Chapter. I did not do so because I believe in the dictum of Bharata that "the Sastra of Natya is the Prayoga Sastra". As such, I believe that no critic or writer of dance should attempt to write on movement without having gone through the experience of the movement in his or her own body, I have not been trained in Kuchipudi. I hope others will fill this gap.
I have sat at the feet of traditional masters in most of the styles I have spoken about. What I write is not from books, but, from the living experience of the arts in actual practice. I once again express my deep indebtedness to them all.
I would like to thank the Publications Division, specially Dr. Bhagyalakshmi, and her colleagues for the pains they have taken in the production of the second edition.
Back of the Book
India is a pioneer in performing arts. This book deals with five Classical Dance forms of India in detail viz. Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Orissi, Manipuri and Kathak.
Considered to be a text-book for students of Classical Dance as also the connoisseurs of music and dance, it contains almost all the vital information on this subject.
The author Kapila Vatsyayan, an erudite scholar on art and literature. Has written this book with intimate knowledge of the subject. The text is enriched with more than hundred rare photographs, a visual treat to the readers.
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