PARAMPARA (Succession) – Abstract


Bharathanatyam, a South Asian Classical dance form deeply rooted to the temples and courts of India was first introduced to Singapore by our pioneers and institutions during the period of 1952 to 1981. For many Indians in Singapore during that time, this dance form provided a means to maintain social identity in diaspora. Art helps develop sensibilities, foster growth of their imagination and acquire skills.

Bharatha natya training is one that is highly disciplined and importance is given to the aesthetics of dance rather than the virtuosity and showmanship. The learning and practice of Bharatha natya involves a following of a Sampradaya (Tradition) and the Guru –Sishya Parampara (Succession). As such we follow the tradition of Pandanallur. My Guru/ teacher Neila Sathiylingam (Singapore) was a direct alumnus of the institution Kalakshetra where she was the direct disciple of Rukmini Devi Arundale- Founder of Kalakshetra College of Fine arts. Rukmini Devi Arundale was the direct disciple of many namely Minakshi Sundaram Pillai well known for the Pandanallur style of Bharathanatyam. The Pandanallur style has a reputation for its emphasis on linear geometry in adavu technique and for intensity and understatement in Abhinaya. The identity of Bharathanatyam has seen many significant shifts over the years mainly due to its placement in Singapore.

Some local artists have deviated from the traditional emphasis on narration, instead combine styles thus creating intercultural sensibilities. They also lyric and compose their own music to suit their stimulus. The Tanjavur Quartet”s pedagogic pattern, is popular and mostly used here. However, Bharathanatya practitioners here have faced various problems in areas pertaining to teaching, learning and sustaining the art in its original form. These problems that pertain to both the artiste and audience have in a way hindered the development of the art form. Context, differing narratives, experiences and sensibilities and individual cultures and stimulus are factors contributing to these problems. Bharathanatyam and its recent engagement with facilitating the students with special needs have proven excellent results. As globalization spreads, the flow of culture and ideas will also be displaced.

Preserving the traditional Bharathanatyam through relevance is not hard as the hybridity and flexibility of the art form allows adaptation and evolution at so many levels. In 1984, David A. Kolb developed a holistic approach to learning. The ‘experiential learning cycle’ model is one to use, as it is highly effective for dance. According to Read and Lowenleld, the activity of self-expression cannot be taught. Any application of an external standard be it technique or form immediately induces inhibitions and frustrates the whole aim. Parampara seeks to explore the boundaries in learning and teaching the art form – Bharathanatya which is placed in Singapore. This presentation articulates solutions. With a shift in pedagogic style through processes and modified patterns in learning and teaching technique and theory in bharathanatya over these 20 years. These have been recreated by trial and error, theories, practice, speculation, intervention, reflection, stimulation, and continuous process backed up by research on the human brain and its consiousness. Studies on the learning , perceptive and the emotional brain allows us to better understand how people learn, percieve and emote.  This has helped largely in the teaching of Bharathanatya here and now. This process-based work will culminate in a one-hour stage presentation.

Parampara has been conceived and choreographed by Durga Mani Maran. It will be performed by Elakiyaa Vasanthakumar, Dhevani Ramachandran and Durga Mani Maran. Sound design by Anand Krishna. Musicians include Durga Mani Maran on Nattuvangum, Aditi Gopinathan on vocals, S Selvapandian on Mridangam and Sughosh Pavan S on violin. It also includes an installation, which is in collaboration with photographer Lijesh Karunakaran.  This construct will feature various elements linked to Bharathanatyam and our practice of it in Singapore.

By Durga.

Parampara @MPH at Aliwal Arts Centre


7pm to 9pm

Tickets at $23

Contact: 91556263 or [email protected]