Dr. Lakshmi Ramaswamy has earned a special place in Bharatanatyam as an extraordinary performer, giving teacher, creative choreographer and ardent researcher. A review quotes, ‘There have been many blooms in Bharatanatyam; but that sheds lasting fragrance is, Lakhmi’. With a vibrant profile: ‘A’ grade artist of Doordarshan, empanelled artist of ICCR and South Zone Cultural Centre, recipient of the international ‘fulbright’ fellowship, several awards and titles, she has performed in prestigious festivals in India and many other countries. She has presented papers in Seminars that include the International ‘Classical Tamizh Conference’, Urbaniana University, Rome. She has also given lectures for refreshers course, lecture demonstrations and conducted workshops in India and Abroad.
Lakshmi is associated with Madras University, Alagappa University, Annamalai University in various capacities.
Sri Mudhraalaya was founded by Smt. Lakshmi Ramaswamy in the year 1996 with an objective of propagating classical dance, Bharatanatyam. Started in a small way with 3 students, today, it is a registered society with board members, artists and teachers.
Along with dance, the institution aims at development of individual self in various perspectives, and makes learning a holistic experience. Apart from practical dancing, students learn theory, nattuvangam, choreography, culture and mythology, exercises, stage management and presentation, lighting techniques, stage craft, makeup, teaching and also research.
Sri Mudhraalaya has created more than 150 solo repertoire items and 50 productions: solo, duet and group choreographies. Most of them are literature based and extensively researched and won awards and appreciation of connoisseurs and rasikas.
This is the second publication and two more: Cuvai in Kuttanul (Lakshmi Ramaswamy) and History of Tamizhs’ Dance (S Raghuraman, second edition) are in progress.
It is indeed heartening to see young practitioners of Bharatanaatyam are coming foreward to pen subject wise articles on the art forms they practice. This shows a good trend of academic interest in what they are pursuing as career. Art journalism itself is a profound subject and not many could express a judicious analysis of the subject Naatya that keeps changing every day. The old treatise themselves are so deep in context and contents and periodically scholars have been writing commentaries based either on their practical experience or by watching the trend during a particular period in the history.
Smt. Lakshmi Ramaswamy’s attempt on the theoretical aspects of Naatya will be of great help to the students of this subject in general and particularly the practitioners of Bharatanaatyam. A few decades ago, performing artistes did not pay much emphasis on the academic side of the art; now the interest in qualifying themselves with University Degrees requires research materials to be published. Therefore Lakshmi’s articles published in naadhabrahmam-abi-lingual Magazine is compiled in a book form for the benefit of students seeking University degrees in Performing arts.
Bhaarata is the actual name of our country and hence the arts forms integral to the country is also named as Bhaaratanaatyam. Probably ours is the only country, name of which goes synonymous with the art form or vice versa. This only establishes the importance of Naatya as the visual communicative media.
Lakshmi has picked up important subject matters delineated in the ancient texts and commentaries by various writers and tries to present them in a platter for any student to easily digest. This should be taken as a launching pad to take off and delve deeper into the unfathomable space of creativity in Naatya sphere –which is physical, mental and spiritual.
This book can be a good handy reference book and recognized or approved as text book for Colleges and Universities having Naatya as a subject for degree course.
My hearty congratulations to Lakshmi Ramaswamy and wish this attempt is the beginning for a much deeper journey into the performing arts of Bhaaratanaatya.
This publication is a compilation of articles written by Lakshmi Ramaswamy for Naadhabrahmam. They cover a variety of subjects that all narthaka-s/narthaki-s/acharya-s of natya should be familiar with. Beginning with analysis of the very term ‘bharata’ and culminating with Bharatasenapatiyam, the author handles amongst several other subjects, the ashtanayikas, the navarasas, nritya, natya, abhinaya, the Tamizh, Sanskrit and Maratha traditions, in individual and relevantly over lapping chapters.
What makes for very interesting reading is the holistic manner in which each subject has been dealt with. No one-sided approach in this book, rather, what one perceives, is many facets to each gem that go into the making of our great art forms that are unique to Bharatiya samskrti. Lakshmi has presented definitions, interpretations and perceptions pertaining to each subject she has handled, epical, literary and practical aspects have also been well-knit.
There are dancers and dancers; each one with their own approach to dance, but what makes for a complete dancer is the desire to enrich oneself beyond the mere physicality and emotional complexities of natya. Lakshmi, even as a young student of natya always displayed a very curious mind... desirous of learning... and forever seeking. Totally committed, focused and hardworking, blessed with an analytical mind, her intelligent and systematic approach have resulted in a publication that may well prove to be a holistic ready reckoner for student of natya. Young students could well be motivated to launch on a voyage of intoxicating discovery by delving into the original texts from which Lakshmi has culled her knowledge.
These articles were written well before Lakshmi completed her doctorate, but one can safely say that, she has, in this publication, displayed all the qualities necessary to becoming Dr. Lakshmi Ramaswamy.
Congratulations too to Naadhabrahmam for taking up this worthy task.
Only rarely, does ‘commission’ or ‘order’ become a pleasant happening. Encouraged by my Tamizh teacher, Dr S Raghuraman and requested by Mr. Subramanian, Editor Naadhabrahmam, I started to pen my thoughts on Bharatanatyam. These articles are in the nature of sharing my understanding and experience of Natya. I thank them for the opportunity and trust.
The articles are of varied nature, but all connected with Natya. Some are introduction to not-very-well-known grammar texts. Some are explanation to certain concepts; some are answers to questions like, ‘is nritta devoid of bhava?’ For most of these articles, a comparison of Tamizh and Sanskrit traditions and texts have been made.
My deep felt gratitude to all my teachers: Smt Chitra Visweswaran, Dr Padma subrahmanyam, Smt Kalanidhi Narayanan, Dr Premeela Gurumurthy who have made me a thinking dancer. My special thanks to my parents Smt Sundari and Jeyakrishnan who found my interest in dance and let me take that path; My husband Ramaswamy and son Vignesh, parents-in-law, brother, sister Chitra Sivakumar and students who also have a participation of my journey in Natya. I thank my brother Subramanian for the cover page drawing & lay out and Compuprint for bringing this in an aesthetic form.
I am grateful to Smt Chitra Visweswaran and Sri V P Dhananjanan for readily accepting to give a foreword to this compilation. I hope, the details acquired during my search, will be useful to all students and give an academic base to their practical understanding of Natya.
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