Saturday, April 18, 2015

T.Bala Saraswati

Bala Saraswati was an exponent of 'Bharatanatyam' Classical dance and also an accomplished singer well versed in 'Carnatic' Classical music.She is remembered for her substantial contributions for the improvement and promotion of the Bharatanyam dance variety.Up to around 1930's this dance form was known as 'Sadhir' and  was  confined as a temple art performed by the community 'Devadasis'.  Only members of that community were trained in it.Bala Saraswati also belonged to 'Devadasi' community and all of her ancestors were well known dancers or musicians.Her grand mother's grand mother 'Kamakshi Ammal' was a dance performer at 'Tanjore' court.Her grand mother and mother were renowned classical musicians.Her mother and grand mother wanted Bala Saraswati also to be trained in music only but she wanted to learn dance and because of her compulsion her family members allowed her to get trained in dance forms also.
She was given vigorous training from the childhood itself by a Guru by name 'Kandappa Pillai' in Bharatanatyam in the mornings and her mother Jayammal taught her music lessons in the evenings.She was also taught lessons in different languages.Later she learnt from other teachers also.
One of her brothers 'Ranganathan' was  trained by the family to become an expert drummer and another  brother 'Viswanathan'  became a flutist.
T.Bala Saraswati(Tanjore Bala Saraswati) was born on May 13, in Chennai,  Tamil Nadu.She had the affinity towards Bharatanatyam  from the childhood itself and when got  trained in that art form her love towards it multiplied.She learnt  in detail all about this dance form and took too much pains and gave extra care  for performing it with perfection.Bala Saraswati got much appreciation from  all corners for her 'Abhinaya' factor (Expressions  in minute forms) and the cuteness of the gestures.
When studied in detail about this wonderful dance form she wanted to give it an uplift and revival.Up to that period this dance form was taught to and performed by females of her community only.She understood that the erotic elements known as 'Shringara Bhava' contained  in larger extent makes it not acceptable to elite classes.She modified it  by removing the vulgar elements of this dance form's  'Shringara Bhava' from the music versus, gestures and expressions.
Meanwhile another danseuse 'Rukmini Devi Arundale' was also  engaged in this same process.She belonged to  another community other than 'Devadasis' but  took the boldness to study this dance form when it was kept at a distance by her community in that period and to promote it in India and abroad.
Bala Saraswati and Rukmini Devi Arundale were the two people responsible to make Bharatanatyam acceptable to all classes of the society and to revive it initially.
After watching her performance the famous dancer 'Uday Shankar' became  much  impressed and he helped her to promote Bharatanatyam dance in North Indian parts.

She performed all over India and received much accolades from the viewers.
Later in the  1960's  she traveled to foreign countries like United States of America,European Countries etc and got the opportunity to perform Bharatanatyam dance in those countries in many places.She took classes to aspirant students and conducted lectures  to explain about all the aspects of Bharatanatyam.
As a Bharatanatyam teacher she encouraged her students to attain perfection in movements,gestures and 'abhinaya'.She reminded and  revealed to her students that dance is 'Sadhana', an intense experience bringing together mind,body and spirit and urged them to practice it  with dedication to attain perfection.
She received 'Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1955 and 
received 'Padma Vibhushan' Award from Government of India in the year 1977.
T.Bala Saraswati Passed  away on February 9, 1984.

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