Showing posts from November, 2014

Ammani Ammal’s story

Dasiyattam and the first professional performances by an Indian dance troupe in Europe - 1838
1838 was a year of many events, some routine but some of greater importance. For example it was the year when the world’s first photograph of a person was taken by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre of the Boulevard de temple. It was of a person in a top hat, getting his shoe shined at the corner. It was also the year when The Times of India, the world's largest circulated English language daily newspaper was founded as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce. The Morse code had been invented, Queen Victoria’s coronation took place, proteins were discovered and the Duke University was established here in N Carolina. On the colonial end, the French were negotiating with India on new slaves for Mauritius after a British ban on slavery. The British were not too happy either, for they had lost the first Afghan War. The French presence in India was miniscule, with just Pondicherry near Madras and M…

The Tanjavur Quartet

When music and dance ruled
Some months ago, we traced the route taken by exponents of Carnatic music in the Vijayanagara kingdom to Tanjore, where the Maratha Nayaks patronized them. That there were a number of music and dance forms in vogue already, is pretty clear, but with time new systems became the norm. The new forms flourished but with pressure from the British rulers and missionaries, some of the old practices were getting forced out. One of the older forms that underwent change was what was termed Dasiattam and four brothers known as the Tanjai nalavar got involved (together with some others) in its revival and restructuring into what we know as today’s Bharatnatyam. However for certain reasons they were forced to move to other regions. Let’s go to the Tanjore of those periods and retrace the steps of the famous Quartet to Travancore and their stay there.
The history of Devadasis is very often misunderstood and confused with anglicized definitions of courtesans (A courtesan …