Shrimati Ragini Devi was an accomplished exponent of the Indian classical dance and an authority on the living forms of the art and its traditions. She presented a comprehensive, revealing, and enlightening account of the classical Indian dance in this fascinating and eminently readable book.
Dance Dialects of India aims at creating a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Indian dance and its cultural environment in India. The author, who made an all-India tour for writing this book, handled her subject with vision, perception, and eloquent expression. The book is addressed to the general reader, dancer, and connoisseur, interested in the arts and traditions of India, where regional forms of dance rituals, dance-drama, folk dance, and classical dance forms have existed for centuries as an essential part of sacred rites and festivals, and as a classical art patronized and practiced by the royality.
The book is profusely and exquisitely illustrated with more than two hundred photographs.
Shrimati Ragini Devi devoted her life to the classical dance of India, and achieved wide recognition in India and the West. She took it upon herself to interpret Indian dance and song to the West and made her debut in New York, accompanied by Hindu musicians. Not satisfied with more success in the USA and imbued with a spirit of creative activity Ragini Devi returned to India and studied traditional dance and dance-drama which were fast becoming a lost art.
Ragini Devi's career in India was unique in the annals of art. She was the first to rediscover Kathakali dance-drama hidden in obscurity, and presented this art and other classical and provincial dances in her performances throughout India, evoking national interest in a declining art.
Poet Rabindranath Tagore, who invited her to dance with her troupe at Shantiniketan, gave her a hand-written appreciation of her art: Those of us belonging to Northern India who have lost the memory of the pure Indian classical dance have experienced a thrill of delight at the exhibition of dancing given by Ragini Devi. I feel grateful at the assurance it has brought to us that the ancient art is still a living tradition in India with its varied grace and vigour and subtleties of dramatic expression.
Excerpts From Reviews:
Of the highly specialized art of Indian dancing Ragini Devi proved herself an accomplished exponent
The complex movements of fluttering fingers and supple wrists provided a series of patterns o remarkable subtlety and charm, with outstanding examples of plastic design in an attractive essay in the Seductive Mode, and in the picturesque dance of the Goddess Parvati. - Daily Telegraph, London
The purity and precision which characterized the dances of Ragini Devi and her group reveal the reverence with which she approached her art, and the care with which she has mastered the symbolism of the ancient dance of India. While faithfully representing the classical traditions, she has added to them the charm of her personal interpretation.- Times of India, Mumbai
Of more personal interest is the fact that she (Indrani) is the daughter of another Indian dancer, Ragini Devi, who was a pioneer in this country some years ago
. She also wrote a small book called NRITANJALI - An Introduction to Hindu Dancing, which was the first of its kind to be published in this country
.It still reads wells and is, in its brief way, most informative.
This, of course, was long before the comparative flood of Indian dancing that has followed the setting up of the United Nations, it was even several years before the first visit of Uday Sankar, which brought a new popular vision of the Hindu art. Ragini Devi, indeed, was one of the vital figures who helped to make possible that popular vision and this contemporary flood of Indian dance. - JOHN MARTIN, New York Times
Appropriately Ragini Devi begins her book with a personal statement and reminiscences of the formative period of her career. Personal history coupled with vivid descriptions of the milieu in which dance was taught and practiced makes interesting reading
.This portion of the book, along with the last, on "Fruitage" is by far and most absorbing and educative.
The rest of the book covers the whole gamut of Indian dance, comprising classical, traditional and folk forms. In twenty-one neatly divided chapters, we are taken through history, technique and repertoire of the major classical styles, the traditional forms such as Yakshagana, Chhau forms and forms of folk dance and drama. The chapters devoted to the theatre of Kerala (Nos. VII to XIV) are the most valuable. This is a fairly comprehensive study of a variety of forms in Kerala. Many of these, such as the Krishnattam, the dances of goddess Bhagvati have not so far received adequate attention of scholars and dance-historians
Handsomely produced and profusely illustrated with some excellent pictures of Indrani by Habib Rahman, the volume is a welcome addition to the meager literature on Indian dance. - Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Sangeet Natak, Journal of the Sangeet Natak Akademi
The 21 chapters of the book deal with almost all the important dance styles of India
her approach to them is meticulous. Ragini Devi beautifully, succinctly paraphrases the most fertile era of Bharata Natyam.
her understanding of the Kerala ethos is remarkable
an innate receptivity, an inherent sensitivity. A keenness of observation and remarkable powers of communication make her telling uniquely evocative. A great book that should give lingering pleasure and lasting knowledge to dance enthusiasts. - Srui Magazine, Chennai
Dance Dialects of India is an important contribution to our understanding of the revival of dance culture in India. It is an excellent introduction to the many dance forms that make India such a vital place for the performing arts. - Choice Magazine, U.S.A.
This sumptuously produced and admirably illustrated volume is indispensable to all students of Indian classical dancing, to the study and exposition of which Srimati Ragini Devi has devoted her life. Both she and her daughter Indrani are recognized as notable exponents of the art; their interpretations have been widely acclaimed, not only in their own country but also in Europe and America. In this book she has compressed the results of a lifetime of research. She covers the entire range of Indian classical dancing from ancient times, distinguishing the local varieties which have evolved in particular regions, describing the festivals which have preserved so much that is traditional, and explaining for the benefit of western readers the essential symbolism, gesture and poetry of the hands. All the points, which the author makes are illustrated with photographs and drawings of great beauty. This book is a treasury of one of the great arts of India as well as the chief d'eouvre of a most distinguished career. - Times Literary supplement, London
This is an engrossing piece of writing that has grown out of the author's half a century of involvement with Indian classical dance
.Ragini Devi's book strikes a pleasant balance between providing coherent information and sustaining interest in the subject. - The Hindustan Times, New Delhi
This book has a special place in the history of dance-writing. The book contains valuable documentation
.It is an all time classic. - The India Magazine, New Delhi
Amply illustrated and written by one of the pioneers of Indian dance studies, this book serves as an excellent introduction to the basic principles and styles of Indian dance technique. - Dance Magazine, New York
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