Progressive Growth of Bharatanatyam in Sri Lanka
While performing arts that reflect culture are seen to lend identification to countries, they do not seem to remain shackled by them if they prove to be captivating. As they tend to gain popularity and begin to be performed globally, changes are bound to occur in keeping with needs and circumstances. However, are the changes that develop over time and among countries the same between where the art is born and has moved? Whereas the changes that appear elsewhere are sporadic and superficial, those where the art belongs, being naturally integrated with its growth, are necessarily deep-rooted and progressive. Bharatanatyam is the classical performing art genre of Tamil Nadu. Because of its alluring ethos it has gained ascendency over most other forms and is seen becoming global. Many people the world over are getting interested in learning it and schools have been set up in most countries to provide training. As Bharatanatyam penetrates other countries it cannot be expected to retain its original purity as changes are bound to follow in the wake of the environment and circumstances in which it is performed. Changes are not only inevitable but also justified in Bharatanatyam by Natyasastra, the treatise on which it is based. However, the changes in Bharatanatyam that take shape in other countries cannot be equated to those that occur in the country of its birth. The changes made by Tamil Nadu in Bharatanatyam are regarded as traditions, and hence do not impair its element of ‘Suththam’. Such changes are progressive. In this context, the changes made by Sri Lanka are no less progressive because of the genetic relationship of the Sari Lankan Tamils to the people of Tamil Nadu. It being so, Bharatanatyam has become ingrained in the culture of Sri Lanka and is used as representation of the country. Besides Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, none others are bent on promoting the art as their own or bringing about prolific changes for enrichment. This contribution by Sri Lanka is being warmly acknowledged and applauded by the country of its birth.
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