By Rustom Bharucha

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Extra resources for Chandralekha, Woman Dance Resistance

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Then followed sequences depicting the gradual decline in the dancer's status, her social ostracism, the consequences of the Devadasi Abolition Bill, leading to the 'revival' of dance in the thirties. Breaking the chronology was a some­ what contrived 'flashback' evoking the art of legendary dancers like Ambapali and Madhavi (from Si/appadikaram). Concluding the production was a rousing til/ana with four dancers in which Chandra's 'statement' probably came through with the greatest vigour: the need for dance to be centered in the primary energies of the body, resistant to " • j the larger constraints imposed on dancers through the temple, the court, and the state.

Not only was Rukmini Devi able to see the 'originality' of Chandra's Bharatanatyam, she was able to connect it to 'occult sources' in which dance becomes a form of divine mathematics, the 'geometry of God'. Though the implica­ tions of this insight are varied and contradictory, as we shall examine in the assertively 'secular' celebration of'mathemat­ ics' in Chandra's production of Iilavati, it indicates the depth at which Rukmini Devi could tune into Chandra's work. Coming to the end of this chapter, which has attempted to situate Chandra's Devadasi within the larger context of the 'history' of Bharatanatyam, it is only appropriate, I think, that we should conclude with a 'fast-forward' in Chandra's dance career in 1985.

E. inert, static, lifeless). It is this close tuning to lines and directions of movement that enables Chandra to create an almost ceaseless dynamic of energies on stage. Never in her choreography, at least to my mind, does the movement of Bharatanatyam atrophy into postures. This is the surest way to create 'dead space'. In Chandra's dance, it is not just the dancers that move, but the entire space which is energised through a configuration of particular energies and inter-relationships. One such pril1ciple evident in Tillana is Chandra's cease­ less need to 'break' a form as soon as it is 'made', so at no point is the dance allowed to become static.

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