Balasaraswati  -  Her Art and Life

Balasaraswati - Her Art and Life

Product ID: 32143

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Author: Douglas M Knight Jr.
Publisher: Tranquebar
Year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 325
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9789380658810


This is the first complete biography of T. Balasaraswati (1918- 1984), a dancer and musician from southern India who became recognized worldwide as one of the great performing artists of the twentieth century.

In India she was a legend in her own time, acclaimed before she was thirty years old as the preeminent dancer of traditional bharatanatyam. Balasaraswati was a passionate revolutionary, an entirely modern artist whose impact was proclaimed by some of the most prominent figures in contemporary dance in India and the West. Her art and life defined the heart of a tradition.

Her story offers an extraordinary view of the matrilineal devadasi community and traditional artistic practice from which modern South Indian dance styles have emerged.This deeply engaging biography draws together Balasaraswati`s personal account of her life and her reflections on the process of making dance and music.

It includes the commentary of family members and dozens of contemporaries from throughout her fifty-year career, revealing hereditary artistic values and conventions that have virtually disappeared in modern India. The book is generously illustrated with rare historical photos and a duotone gallery of distinguished photographers’ images of Balasaraswati’s dancing.


An intimate portrait of one of the great performing artists of the twentieth century

“A gripping account of the hereditary system of transmission in the performing arts though the biography of one of India’s greatest dancers, T. Balasaraswati. Douglas Knight Jr. unfolds many layers of the personal, social, artistic, national, and international aspects of T. Balasaraswati’s life.”
--- Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan

“A fascinating book written knowledge, understanding, and talent celebrating the twentieth century’s greatest bharata natyam performer, the incomparable Balasaraswati.”
--- Charles L. Reinhart

“Douglas knight brings a true insider’s perspective coupled with an objective scholarly modality that makes this work uniquely valuable. This book illuminates many of the important issues associated with the emergence of Bharata natyam in twentieth-century India in both its pre- and post-independence manifestations. In my view, it is required reading for anyone interested in India dance, music, and cultural history.”
--- Daniel M. Neuman


List of illustrations
Notes of Translation, Transliteration, and Dates

Chapter 1. – From the heart of the tradition
Chapter 2. – Madman at the gate, 1918-1927
Chapter 3. Renaissance, 1927-1936
Chapter 4. Reconstruction, 1936-1947
Chapter 5. Dancing for Murugan, 1947-1961
Chapter 6. On the back of a peacock, 1961-1972
Chapter 7. Something Great and Grand, 1972-1984
Appendix – Select Biographies
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