Volume 34 Number 3, June 1982

The Performing Arts

Edited by: Narayana Menon, Saryu Doshi
Binding: Hardcover
Specifications: 156 pages, 153 illustrations
Dimensions: 324 x 241 mm

The field of Indian performing arts is vast and complex, the numerous styles manifesting themselves at many levels. Several of these expressions, however, tend to be esoteric, remaining virtually unknown outside their own milieu. Fortunately the past few decades have witnessed a renewed interest in these art forms all over India. Serious attempts are being made to preserve them and to give them a wider exposure within the country as well as outside it. This volume presents varied lesser-known aspects of the Indian performing arts. Erudite texts discuss Bharata Natyam, the martial art of Manipur, and the process of diffusion of the Gita-Govinda, the ‘Indian Song of Songs’. There are articles on Kalaripayattu of Kerala, supposedly the predecessor of karate, Theyyam and Bhuta, ritual dances of the south, and the Chaitra Parva rituals and Chhau dances of Bihar and Orissa. A focus on western India reveals the diverse folk performances including the Chitrakathis or picture-narrators of Maharashtra. The volume concludes with a portfolio on Indian folk and tribal dances.

Narayana Menon is a scholar of classical Indian dance and music. He is Executive Director of the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Bombay.
Saryu Doshi, scholar and art historian, is a specialist in the history of Indian miniature painting. She is the Editor of Marg Publications.

Saryu Doshi

The Performing Arts - A Definition
Narayana Menon

Gita Govinda - The Processes of Diffusion
Kapila Vatsyayan

Bharata Natyam
T. Balasaraswati

Kalaripayattu of Kerala
G. Sankara Pillai

Martial Arts of Manipur
E. Nilakanta Singh

Gods and Ghosts - Teyyam and Bhuta Rituals
Balan Nambiar

Chaitra Parva Rituals - Chhau Dances
Mohan Khokar

Indian Theatre Today - Grappling with New Realities
Kumud Mehta

Chitrakathi Tradition of Pinguli
Baburao Sadwelkar

Folk Performances of Maharashtra
Ashok G. Paranjpe and D. Nadkarni

Indian Folk and Tribal Dances
Czaee Daftary


Select Bibliography

Doshi, Saryu
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 2-9

The editorial reflects on the tradition of the performing arts in India. The portfolio includes paintings of raginis, Chola wall paintings, and sculptures depicting musicians.

The Performing Arts - a Definition
Menon, Narayana
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 10-21

A performing art -- such as music, dance, or theatre -- is a live art-form only when it is being performed. The realization is dawning both in Indian and Western contemporary art movements that art performances are not mere spectacles, but indistinguishable from life itself.

Gita Govinda - The Processes of Diffusion
Vatsyayan, Kapila
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 22-35

A brief historical survey of the pan-Indian movement inspired by Jayadeva's Gita-Govinda (late 12th century), and the centres of dissemination. It became a part of temple-rituals, and was performed as a dance-drama. The history of the Gita-Govinda in the 16th and 17th centuries revolves around its commentaries, and the establishment of Chaitanya or Gaudiya Vaishnavism by Chaitanya in Puri.

Bharata Natyam
Balasaraswati, T.
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 36-43

The article relates the experience of a Bharata Natyam performance, and discusses the traditional order of Bharata Natyam and its structure. The writer, herself a leading exponent, is against "purifying" the form of Bharata Natyam by replacing traditional lyrics with devotional songs.

Kalaripayattu of Kerala
Pillai, G. Sankara
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 44-53

Kalaripayattu, a martial art and system of physical training in Kerala, is compared with karate, and linked to the social structure in Kerala. This art influenced other art forms in Kerala, including Teyyam, Padayani, Kudiyattam, Kathakali, and Krishnattam.

Martial Arts of Manipur
Singh, E. Nilakanta
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 54-61

The martial arts of Manipur are Thanghairol, Ta Khousarol, and Mukna - the first two are performed with swords and spears respectively, and the last is a wrestling fight. The martial arts contributed to the classical dance forms such as Lai-Haraoba, Rasalila and Sankirtana.

Gods and Ghosts - Teyyam and Bhuta Rituals
Nambiar, Balan
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 62-73

Teyyams and Bhutas are unique theatrical performances, which serve as harmonious links between various communities. The article discusses the antiquity and influence of these ritual dances, their performance in shrines, and the ritual offertories.

Chaitra Parva Rituals - Chhau Dances
Khokar, Mohan
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 74-87

A narration of the rituals during the Seraikela (Bihar) and Mayurbhanj (Orissa) festivals, where the ritualistic Chhau dance is performed in the month of Chaitra (mid-March to mid-April).

Indian Theatre Today - Grappling with New Realities
Mehta, Kumud
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 88-95

The plays of the mid-fifties expressed the concerns of post-independent India. By the 1960s, the productions of 4 playwrights -- Mohan Rakesh, Sombhu Mitra, Girish Karnad, and Vijay Tendulkar -- were considered as part of a national theatre movement. In the 70s, dramatists, directors, and actors were attracted to more flexible structures, with scope for music and dance. By the end-70s, the experience of the past two decades of theatre found an outlet in the "new" cinema.

Chitrakathi Tradition of Pinguli
Sadwelkar, Baburao
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 96-105

The tradition of narrating stories with the help of painted pictures is preserved in different regions of India, and chitrakathi of Pinguli village (near Kudal, Maharashtra) is one such tradition. Chitrakathi utilizes Paithan paintings as the picture props for narrating stories from the epics. The pictures are painted in 4 different styles. Sometimes, the paintings are arranged sequentially and put together in a loose leaf manuscript called pothi. The article describes the chitrakathi performance, which is now a fading art.

Folk Performances of Maharashtra
Paranjpe, Ashok G. and Nadkarni, D.
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 106-129

The article describes the traditional and folk performances of Maharashtra, which belong to dance or drama forms: vagya murli jagran; ganohal; vasudevika vani; kirtan; varkari lalit; bharud; songi bhajan; bhedic lavni; lavni; tamasha; khele; dasavatara; powada; bahurupi; gaja nritya; ranhalgi lezim; and tarpa nritya.

Indian Folk and Tribal Dances
Daftary, Czaee
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 130-149

The folk and tribal dances of India are accompanied by songs and music, and performed at festivals, fairs and social gatherings. Their evolution into new forms and expressions is dependent on the continued patronage extended by the government and society. This note is followed by a portfolio of images.

Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 152-153

A glossary of terms relating to the performing arts of India.

Select Bibliography
Manerikar, M.J. and Rao, Sumathi
Vol. 34 No. 3, June 1982; pp. 154-156

A bibliography for studies on the performing arts of India.