Indian classical dance is a 'high art'. In ancient India, it was even venerated as a 'sacred' act. Ever since Bharata wrote his seminal Natyashastra (c. 200 ce), it has been one of the central elements of scholarly discourse, generating a whole host of learned treatises. Mandakranta Bose here takes a close look at this vast Sanskritic textual corpus attempting not only to reconstruct India's two-millennia-long dance tradition, but also to dispel the historical and aesthetic misconceptions woven around it.
With a fresh, critical appraisal of the key concepts surfacing from the Natyashastra of Bharata Muni and some of the other landmark treatises, like Abhinayadarpana, Sangitaratnakara, and Nartananirnaya, the book tries to highlight how these time-honoured writings have contributed to the evolution of classical dancing in India. And, yet more significantly perhaps, the author ventures into a comparatively uncharted terrain seeking to explore the status of performing arts (including dance) in early Jaina tradition. Focussing on the position of dancing in the contemporary cultural life of India, Mandakranta Bose shows how classical dance in India today has achieved a creative blend of tradition and modernity, leading to a vigorous revival of a great heritage, a part of the larger effort towards 'nationalist rediscovery'.
Supporting the text with visual material to correlate the theory and practice of dancing in India, the book offers perceptions that will appeal to everyone involved with performing arts.