December 10, 2009
Kiran Rajagopalan, Chennai

Dr. Sunil Kothari, dance historian, scholar, author, is a renowned dance critic, having written for The Times of India group of publications for more than 40 years. He is a regular contributor to Dance Magazine, New York. Dr. Kothari is a globetrotter, attending several national, international dance conferences and dance festivals. He has to his credit more than 14 definitive works on Indian classical dance forms. Kothari was a Fulbright Professor and has taught at the Dance Department, New York University; has lectured at several Universities in USA, UK, France, Australia, Indonesia and Japan. He has been Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific (2000-2008) and is Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific India chapter, based in New Delhi. A regular contributor to, Dr Kothari is honored by the President of India with the civil honor of Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi award.

The Margam.. is it viable for today's audience which mostly only wants spectales?
Margam with certain different arrangements is still being witnessed by dance-audience throughout the year, atleast in Chennai for sure; so the survival of the traditional format of Bharatanatyam has a perennial space, I feel ; if the space within the mental frame of dancers can adhere firmly still more, I am sure there can be a more stronger, successful survival of this timeless concept, designed by the great masters of the past. At all times, it has been possible for the cultural scene to accommodate the old and the new in a parallel stream of activity. The conviction of the individual dancer is crucial in this matter, while the Rasika has all the freedom to choose to see a wholesome traditional performance to experience the blissful totality or a spectacle with all its vibrant ingredients; however, If the dancer is firm and committed, her or his decision to uphold the traditional Margam need not get distracted for any reason.

How relevant is it to perform erotic Padams and Javalis,(which were done in intimete surroundings), on a proscenium stage? Where does one draw the line?
When the traditional repertoire is the main substance of the margam based performance, the time-honoured order of repertoire, brings Javali, next to the Padams, to give a certain lighter note of enjoyment both for the performer and the viewer; as we all are aware, the Javalis are short lyrical, pieces, providing lilting joy that pervades through, with its its sringara- oriented content; the dance-space of the past has now shifted to the proscenium stage; viewing the content of the Javali and delivering the same to the spectator with subtlety and dignity are the twin responsibility of the dancer and the viewer; with a total grip over the nuances and the boundaries of fulfillment of the sentiment involved, it is possible for the individual dancer to bring forth, in right proportion, the required effect, keeping in mind the responsibility of doing or undoing the levels of dignity of the dance-form. These levels evolve out of the basic training of the dancer and her enlarged vision of the aspects of abhinaya delineation; based on these points, the scope lies in the hands of the dancer to enliven the composition suitably. Through her own skill, she can handle an erotic lyric, either to the extreme or tame it to suit the environment, thereby adding a personal touch to it. Whether it is Javali, or Padam, the technique makes all the difference; hence presenting a Javali, depends only on how and how much is expressed. If art is regarded as an extension of life’s experience, there is certainly relevance to a Javali on a proscenium stage.