Balasaraswati: Her Art and Life

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Wesleyan University Press, Jun 15, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 325 pages
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This is the first complete biography of T. Balasaraswati (1918–1984), a dancer and musician from southern India who became recognized worldwide as one of the great performing artists of the twentieth century. In India she was a legend in her own time, acclaimed before she was thirty years old as the great dancer of traditional bharata natyam. Balasaraswati was a passionate revolutionary, an entirely modern artist whose impact was proclaimed by some of the most prominent figures in contemporary dance in India and the West. Her art and life defined the heart of a tradition. Her life story offers an extraordinary view of the enigmatic matrilineal devadasi community and traditional artistic practice from which modern South Indian dance styles have emerged. This deeply engaging biography draws together Balasaraswati’s personal account of her life and her reflections on the process of making dance and music. It includes the commentary of family members and dozens of contemporaries from throughout her fifty-year career, revealing hereditary artistic values and conventions that have virtually disappeared in modern India. The book is generously illustrated with rare historical photos and a duotone gallery of distinguished photographers’ images of Balasaraswati’s dancing.
  

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Review: Balasaraswati: Her Art & Life

User Review  - Sumanya - Goodreads

loved every but of this nostalgic narrative from a person who obviously adored his subject. Felt super despondent at not having witnessed her on stage. Perhaps I can watch her son! and so ... Read full review

Contents

From the Heart of the Tradition
1
Madras and Environs
8
Madman at the Gate 19181927
17
Mowbrays Road Madras ca 1895
21
Vina Dhanammal ca 1935
38
Ammanakshi Amman Temple Kanchipuram
57
Renaissance 19271936
60
Studio portrait ofBalasaraswati 1934
84
Balasaraswati with Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastri Madras ca 1948
139
Recipients ofPresidents Award Sangeet Natak Akademi Delhi 1955
155
Balasaraswati and daughter Lakshmi Shanmukham 1956
169
On the Back of a Peacock 19611972
185
Something Great and Grand 19721984
225
Acknowledgments
253
Select Biographies
255
Notes
267

Reconstruction 19361947
100
Balasaraswati in Egmore ca 1938
108
Balasaraswati in concert at Rajaji Hall early 1940s
122
Dancing for Murugan 19471961
138
Glossary
285
Bibliography
297
Index
307
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

DOUGLAS M. KNIGHT JR. is a musician and independent scholar whose personal and artistic relationship with India and Balasaraswati’s family began in the late 1960s. He has appeared in performance with Balasaraswati, her brothers Ranganathan and Viswanathan, her daughter Lakshmi Knight, and her grandson Aniruddha Knight. He has been a Fulbright Scholar and a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as the recipient of other honors and awards.

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