Chandralekha, Woman Dance Resistance by Rustom Bharucha

By Rustom Bharucha

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Her parampara is alive because it has been personally defined, questioned and lived. , 3 Uviog in the Sixties 9 After Devadasi, Chandra found that she could not sustain another production in the absence of an organisation or professional infrastructure~ The prospect of being linked to an agent or institution was unacceptable to her. Nor was she interested in pursuing a career as a solo dancer. She realised more and more clearly that she was being 'appre­ ciated' for the wrong reasons. As she recalls today without mincing words: 'I had the right kind of waist, the right kind of bosom.

At one level, one could say that Chandra did not develop her potential at that time in anyone direction, preferring to explore different disciplines with the intensity and direct­ ness of an amateur. Indeed, she remains something of an 'amateur' even to this day, distrusting the 'regimentation' of any kind of professionalism. If her dance productions are 'professional' today, it is despite the fact that she has no formal school or administration. Looking back on the sixties, it is possible to see that Chandra was most true to herself by not restricting her creativity in anyone particular way.

Indeed, Devadasi marked the beginning of a total departure from the 'solo tradition' of dance perfor­ mance to which Chandra has never returned. Structured in a somewhat linear manner, Devadasi at­ tempted to trace the evolution of Bharatanatyam through its manifestations in the temple, court, and the modern stage. While the context of the temple was created through the performance of a pushpanja/i with traditional sol/ukattus (rhythmic syllables), this demonstration of faith was con­ trasted with the more erotic performance of varnams spe­ cifically addressed to the rulers of the Thanjavur court.

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