Importance of traditional art forms

BANGALORE: The last week of March saw aficionados of classical dance in the city heading to the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, to be a part of ‘Margham’, a festival of Varnams. The event was organise

Published: 03rd April 2012 11:18 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 10:25 PM   |  A+A-


BANGALORE: The last week of March saw aficionados of classical dance in the city heading to the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, to be a part of ‘Margham’, a festival of Varnams. The event was organised by the Academy of Music as a part of its Golden Jubilee Celebrations with a view to revive and resurrect the performance of traditional Varnams.

The three-day programme comprised dance performances by seasoned Bharatanatyam artistes like Sathyanarayana Raju and Poornima Ashok. Senior veterans in the field, H N Suresh, Lalitha Srinivasan and Radha Sridhar were felicitated. On the final day, a panel discussion was conducted on ‘The Importance and Sanctity of the Varnam in a Margam’. It was convened by Usha R K and the panelists included Dr Sunil Kothari, V P Dhananjayan, Leela Venkataraman, Lalitha Srinivasan and Kiran Subramaniam.

Dhananjayan led the discussion and talked about our rich cultural tradition of Natya which  is different from ‘dance’ as it does not merely involve movement but is a discipline combining physical, spiritual and emotional aspects. He went on to correct the usage of the word ‘Varnam’, which is commonly associated with Carnatic music, and offered ‘Nrityopaharam’ as an alternative. It  comprises Nritta, Nritya and Natya. It has a meaningful connotation and is immediately identified with dance.

He urged artistes to experiment and admitted that change is imperative but also cautioned against sacrificing art in the name of entertainment. Leela Venkataraman provided an overview of the Varnam which is the centre piece of a dance recital. There are three parts to it. During the pallavi, the nayaki (heroine) states her position. For example, she might be daydreaming about her lord, viewing a procession or conferring with her friends.

The anupallavi is used to elaborate on the virtues and qualities of the lord. The hurt of separation experienced by her is depicted in the charanam for it is a characteristic of the Varnam that the object of devotion is never actually shown. Traditionally performed for over an hour, the piece has drastically been shortened to accommodate modern time constraints.

Lalitha Srinivasan adopted a conservative view, exhorting students to realise the collective intelligence that has gone into planning and setting out the structure of the Varnam over the ages. She feels that changes must be attempted only after the fundamentals have been imbibed and practised over a long time. Dr Sunil Kothari reminisced about traditionally popular Varnams, viewed and enjoyed by him over the years. Kiran Subramaniam defended the new approaches stating that these were merely an expression of a different perspective and in no way a replacement to the existing pattern. This lively debate was followed by demonstrations of the Varnam by Charles Ma and Anuradha Vikranth.

Stay up to date on all the latest Bengaluru news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp