Monthly Archives: October 2012

Beyond Bharata Natyam – YouTube Videos of “Contemporary Bharata Natyam”


I want to know what’s out there in terms of “Contemporary Bharata Natyam.” What are other Bharata Natyam dancers doing with the questions they have? So I decided to search far and wide (on YouTube) to see what I could find. Negotiating borders is not an easy thing to do, tastefully. It’s usually too much of one element or the other, or just a painful clash of worlds. To tell you the truth, this is a new flavor for me, so my taste may not be that refined. But I don’t know if I’m that refined overall anyhow! I can’t quite point out what works and what doesn’t work, if a piece is strong or weak. I also must admit that I don’t really understand contemporary dance in itself. I admire its technique and can admire a strong expressive dancer, but often I’m not sure what the message or meaning is. Here, however, I’m going to share pieces that I found compelling or interesting. The key-words I used was “Contemporary Bharata Natyam” and I got to page 20, so there is a lot more out there! The clips I’m sharing here are the ones that I “liked” – I think they were successful in, as I read on one site, “pushing into new territory while still keeping one foot in the rich terrain of Bharata Natyam.”

Here are my tentative findings. Please share yours!!! I got to page 20 on YouTube under “Contemporary Bharata Natyam” (that means I screened through about 400 videos)

What I was looking for was anything Bharata Natyam based, or something that clearly had BN roots. And this is by no means a comprehensive search. There is infinitely more out there…

Videos I liked: 

Angika Dance Company perform “Ether” –  Here is another by them “Urban Temple”

Elegant solo by Anusha Subramanyam

Kinda fun, Sooraj Subramaniam, dancing in his PJ’s 🙂

Mostly, this reminds me of me dancing with Mayapuris 😛 I also do like the voice of the singer!

Navarasa – Aparna Sindhoor trailer for “Encounter”

Mavin Khoo – more like a dance collage meant to play with your sense of sound and imagery. I couldn’t find another video of Mavin, whom I’ve seen live and was moved by.

A bunch of different “Alaripu” renditions:

I’ve seen the Post-Natyam Collective live, and I thought they were quite interesting. This video doesn’t necessarily capture that, but still: Alarippu Gone Astray 

The clash of two clans, Romeo and Juliet through alaripu

Contemporary Alarippu by Umesh Shetty

Malika Sarabhai is of course known in India for being an iconoclast. I don’t quite get it, but sorta cool: Changing Planes

Here is one of my favorites:

“The Shiver” by Sadhana Dance Company – directed by Subathra Subramaniam – Very cool movements, and formations, reminiscent of “Stampede”… Actually this is one of my favorites… So I checked out another one by them called Elixir

Sweet little solo by Nikolina Nikoleski

Example of a dance I don’t understand:

In Between Skin by Kalpana Raghuraman

Cool contemporary videos or that came up:

Constellation by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Larbi talking about his thoughts behind the piece.

Akram Khan: Zero Degrees, Sacred Monsters, Khatak

Khatak by Akash Odedra

Seeing Akram Khan, and Akash Odedra dance, I see myself in their dance, their way of moving, and I’m reminded how I can’t purely be a Bharata Natyam dancer. Simply because my body likes to move in other ways as well.

Here is a “Border-line Piece.” It’s Bharata Natyam, but also not. Although I think Rukmini Vijaykumar is a beautiful dancer, this solo feels too full. I’m reminded of how striking sparseness, minimalistic grace and elegance is. Watching someone like Priyadarshini Govind for example, the pauses, the deliberate movements, and maintaining convey so much. Constant movement is sometimes counter-productive.

Stunning Solo by Vraja Sundari Keilman

Can’t explore BN beyond boundaries without looking at Shobana Jeysingh, of course. But I could mostly find interviews and trailers/promo-clips, not a solid few minutes of a work.  And I know for a fact that there are many other dance companies out there that are exploring Bharata Natyam in interesting ways. One example is Parijat Desai and her dance company

But that will have to be another key-word search 🙂