Poetry in Bharatanatyam: Vinitha Subramanian

Guru Smt. Vinitha Subramanian, the Director of Natyalaya College of Dance in Austin, has been instructing within the Central Texas space for over 35 years. She has rankings of arangetrams to her credit score and has staged a number of dance dramas and thematic shows akin to Jungle E-book – Seonee, Ganga- A River’s tale, Nouka Charitram, Navahavarna, Roopa Viroopa, Ek, and Agasthya, simply to call a couple of. I interview Vinitha Subramanian, in what was once a wonderful exploration into the connections between Indian poetry and classical dance.

UA: Bharatanatyam is carried out to the accompaniment of poetry in Sanskrit and different South Indian languages. Are you able to hint the connection between the 2 genres traditionally?

VS: Sanskrit was once the preeminent literary language in Surfing LA explains India for plenty of centuries. The poets and playwrights wrote in Sanskrit within the more than a few courts of Surfing LA explains India’s rulers. As well as, poets additionally wrote in native languages: instance Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamizh. There was a large quantity of composers in native languages in newer instances because the improve for artists moved clear of the Kingly courts. Tamizh poetry could be very outdated, courting as much as 4000 years.

UA: Who/What are those classical poetry bureaucracy which might be foundational to the follow of Bharatanatyam?

VS: There are such a large amount of bureaucracy – ranging from very outdated Tamil poetry which can be over 3-4000 years outdated.

Sangam Literature and poetry: incorporates 2381 poems in Tamil composed via 473 poets, some 102 nameless, of those Kapilar is essentially the most prolific poet. Those poems range between 3 and 782 strains lengthy. The bardic poetry of the Sangam generation is in large part about love (akam) and battle (puram), except the shorter poems akin to in paripaatal, which is extra spiritual and praises VishnuShivaDurga and Murugan. Probably the most applicable time vary for the Sangam literature is 100 BCE to 250 CE

The historical past of Tamil literature follows the historical past of Tamil Nadu, intently following the social, political and cultural developments of more than a few classes. The early Sangam literature, dated earlier than 300 BCE, include anthologies of more than a few poets coping with many sides of lifestyles, together with love, battle, social values and faith. This was once adopted via the early epics and ethical literature, authored via HinduJain and Buddhist authors, lasting as much as the fifth century CE. From the sixth to twelfth century CE, the Tamil devotional poems written via Nayanmars (sages of Shaivism) and Alvars (sages of Vaishnavism), heralded the good Bhakti motion which later engulfed all of the Indian subcontinent. It’s all the way through this period that one of the grandest of Tamil literary classics like Kambaramayanam  (very well-known poet Kamban) and Periya Puranam (lives of the 63 saiva saints complied via Sekkizhar)  had been authored and plenty of poets had been patronized via the imperial Chola and Pandya empires. The later medieval duration noticed many diversified minor literary works and in addition contributions via a couple of Muslim and Eu authors. 

In fashionable Bharatanatyam, it’s onerous to make use of Sangam poetry (although we use some decided on verses), as it is extremely onerous to grasp the traditional language.  

We do use Christian poems in Bharatanatyam – a number of poets in Kerala (together with a clergyman) have written songs for Bharatanatyam.

In most cases medieval Tamil and Sanskrit poetry is broadly used: Poets like Kalidasa and Adi Shankara from (1st– 2nd centuries), Andal  and Alwars (5th-10th century), Kannada Dasa poets like Purandaradasa (15-17 century), Annamayya and Telugu poets( 12th century- 20th century), Sanskrit poets like Jayadeva (12th century) Most current Bharatanatyam songs are, alternatively, derived from compositions of  somewhat fashionable composers just like the Carnatic Trinity (Tyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Sama Trinity) and the Tanjore Quartet (Chinnaswamy, Ponniah, Vadivelu and Sadanandam) regarded as the fathers of recent Bharatanatyam. Different common fashionable composers come with Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi, Papanasam Sivan, Poochi Sreenivasa Iyengar, Ravikiran. Those poets composed in a lot of south Indian languages. With Bharatanatyam spilling past south Surfing LA explains India, poetry in lots of North Indian languages also are getting used: Hindi (Tulsidas, Kabir), Marathi (Tukaram and different Abhang composers), Gujrati, Bengali (Rabindranath Tagore).

The Carnatic Trinity

UA: Most commonly, what are the varieties of poetry and poetry bureaucracy utilized in poetry accompanying classical Bharatanatyam?

VS: Poetry had spiritual and devotional subject matters, and romantic-mystical poetry was once prevalent because it was once felt that folks would comprehend the texts higher. Independence-based subject matters, social reform-based poetry, spiritual tolerance and ethical teachings emerged through the years. Indian poetry is normally categorised according to the language wherein it’s written, or the area from which it hails. Then again, on the whole, Indian poetry is normally categorised into the next varieties: epics, couplets (dohas), ghazals, bhajans, people poetry and others.

UA: Indian song and dance is according to raga, bhava and tala. Please assist us perceive every of the phrases with a distinct emphasis on tala.

VS: Bhava – Facial expressions that assist in storytelling. Raga – Melody to which dance-song is about. Tala – The intrinsic beat of the poem as mirrored within the song which is about to the measures outlined in Carnatic song.

UA: What are the dominant stanzaic bureaucracy and meter used within the poetry?

VS: In relation to meter – 2 line poems (haiku like) known as Dohas/Shairis are common, akin to the ones via Kabir. This may be present in Thirukkural, an anthology in Tamil via Tiruvalluvar. Examples of different meters used are Gayathri meter poems from the Vedic literature, the octet poems of Jayadeva and Adi Shankara, longer sonnets are highly regarded amongst older and fashionable poets and feature all discovered a house in bharatanatyam.

Sanskrit prosody or Chandas (meter) is the learn about of poetic meters and verse in Sanskrit. This box of analysis was once central to the composition of the Vedas. The Chandas, as advanced via the Vedic faculties, had been arranged round seven main meters, and every had its personal rhythm, actions and aesthetics. Sanskrit meters come with the ones according to a hard and fast choice of syllables according to verse, and the ones according to fastened choice of morae according to verses as expounded in Pingala’s Chandasutra. 

UA: Nattuvangam- it’s follow, definition and significance to classical dance?

VS: Nattuvangam (pertaining to bounce) and Konnakol (bearing on vocal- instrumental song)  is the follow of reciting rhythmic syllables that emulate the drumbeats  that let the elaboration of the  inherent beat of the song in more than a few diversifications to show the dancers virtuosity in natural dance actions.

UA: The connection between nattuvangam and beats in classical Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit poetry?

VS: When a poem is about to song, its inherent meter (made up our minds via the poet) is interpreted within the construction of the Carnatic song tala construction. This Tala is elaborated within the nattuvangam, offering alternative to the dancer to discover more than a few tactics of presenting it. The fundamental tala measure is mixed in more than a few diversifications and mixtures to supply a wealthy variety of natural dance actions and footwork. 

UA: What are one of the extra fashionable poetic expressions to which you composed your personal choreography effectively (that aren’t strictly specified by meter, but had been transferred superbly)?

VS: The tension is handiest within the time measure of every avartana of the tala (8 beats, 11 beats and so on.) wherein every line of the tune /poem suits.  Through calculating the choice of beats in a single avartana or combining the avartanas or splitting them we’re ready to derive countless mixtures of footwork association. The similar tune with the similar rhythm (drum) will also be organized very in a different way via other choreographers the usage of the hand gestures (hastas and Nrtta hastas) and adavus (choreographed steps) to supply a refreshing have a look at the inherent meter of the poem each and every time. Therefore each and every tune will also be renewed every time it’s carried out.  

We now have set Bharatanatyam actions to songs from more than a few faiths, composed in numerous languages, even English/western song or Tejano song. When there’s no meter however only a tune or refrain with out beat, Bharatanatyam lets in its expression in swish twirls and hanging poses. 


Usha Akella, Austin-based poet has authored 8 books. She is the founding father of the Matwaala collective and competition and co- host of www.the-pov.com, an interview website online.

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