Popularising Bharatnatyam in entertaining way

Kolkata: Retaining the pure art form of Bharatnatyam, internationally known danseuse Savitha Sastry has embarked on a mission to popularise the art in a more entertaining way and to connect with the uninitiated.

"I tried to depict a story without deliberately trying to tell the audience that it was communicated to them through Bharatnatyam," Savitha told PTI after her recent `Soul Cages` performance last night.

Savitha, who had earlier swayed audiences in over 12 countries including USA, Europe, Australia, South East Asia and the Middle East with her dance ballet `Music Within` in 2010, said she would now launch a tour to Malayasia and other east Asian countries with `Soul Cages`.

Pointing out she was not diluting the essence of Bharatnatyam, Savitha said "I have not tinkered with the technicalities, but after years of practice I am rather using the dance steps to communicate a story of a child whose soul journeys above after death but still yearns to be back to the `cage` (body). "This has no usual invocation to any god as seen in classical dance forms but my steps are pure, traditional in form, in grace," she said.

The 54-minute solo recital performed to recorded ensemble strains of violins, viola, tabla and percussion is composed by Rajkumar Bharathi, great-grandson of poet Subramanya Bharathi. It has been staged earlier in Delhi and Bangalore and will now travel to Mumbai before the trip to South Asia.

Asked about any difference to the reaction from the audience here and in abroad, Savitha said "it is the same everywhere, and in abroad I can also see a lot of foreigners hooked to Indian classical. However, contrary to popular perceptions that popularity of classical art is fading in India, I have found the audience very receptive.

"Only thing is that to stop the distractions from other forms of music for generation X you need to connect with them by popularising the dance form if I say, to wean those who have no clue about Bharatnatyam," Savitha, who had been featured in a BBC Documentary `Sex, Death, and the Gods`, a film about the history of temple dancers in South India, said.

The lead dancer in a motion picture production `Ananda Tandavam` choreographed by her guru – Adyar K. Laxman, was initiated to the dance form at the age of six under the guidance of Guru Mahalingam Pillai of the Raja Rajeshwari Dance Academy in Mumbai.