Documenting Kerala Natanam

Saritha Ayyath, writer and dancer Dr Gayathri Subramaniam have come up with an English book on Kerala Natanam to be released today.

It was an eight-year-long journey for writer Saritha Ayyath and danseuse Dr Gayathri Subramaniam after they decided to author a book on the birth and growth of Kerala Natanam. The book ‘Kerala Natanam - The Enchanting Dance of India’ is finally ready for release at the International Book Festival, Kochi, on Thursday.

The book — a first in English — begins with forewards from renowned danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai, Naatyachaarya V.P. and Shanta Dhananjayan and former Vice-Chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam (Deemed University) K.G. Poulose. The book then goes onto explain at length about the dance form its significance and other nuances.The book comes complete with a syllabus, going into details about symbolism and gestures, steps and stance, rasa, bhava, thalam, mudras and more, along with pictorial representations.

Saritha, who is currently in the city as part of the book release, says, “There are very few books about Kerala Natanam even in Malayalam. A major one was written by Guru Gopinath, who developed this dance form. A few others had released handbooks about it. This is more of a reference book. Everything about Kerala Natanam has been recorded in this book. We have even covered other dance forms and also the Natya Shastra.”

On how they stumbled upon the idea, Saritha says, “Gayathri is a Kerala Natanam dancer. We were introduced to each other through a cousin. The idea took birth when we met.”

Elaborating how they worked towards the completion of the book, she says, “I am basically a writer. I do not know dancing, so the first step I had to take was to learn about the dance form. For two years, I studied about Kerala Natanam theoretically. Gayathri got Guru Gopinath’s book on the dance form from Natana Gramam. We met Mrinalini Sarabhai and received guidance from K.G. Poulose. We spoke to a few dancers. However, our main sources of information were Natana Gramam, Guru Gopinath’s children and Gayathri as well.”

The text includes and interprets Sanskrit slokas taken from Natya Shastra, Saritha explains. The duo hopes to make this book part of Kerala Natanam curriculum for budding dancers.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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