Accepted Paper:

"Performance as mediation": an impeccant dancer between the belief and the community  


Ammamuthu Rajaram (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Paper short abstract:

Muthukannu 74, a Sadir dancer narrates her life in her young days when the Devadasi system prevailed and was on the verge of obliteration.This particular dance form has its own cultural background explaining about the once lauded dance form surviving in another name and a nation's dance identity.

Paper long abstract:

The paper deals about the narration of dance training from a banned Devadasi or sadir dancer in Tamil Nadu. Muthukannamal 74, a Sadir dancer discusses about her life during her young age where the Devadasi system prevailed and was on the verge of obliteration. When India after Independence, it was trying to revive and reform the nation after the colonial clutch, looked at this whole Devadasi tradition as a spoiled and an un-necessary evil in India and had to be stopped. The revivalists thought to cleanse the nation by banning this tradition but a performative practice form this tradition later became the identity of the nation, the Bharatha Natyam.

Muthukannammal, the sadir dancer shares her experience of the dance training from her family and also the other dance forms during the festivity and techniques involved. The narration of this particular dance form has its own cultural background, where it explains about the once lauded dance form became extinct but still survives in another name and cleansed form. From MuthuKannu's explanation, as a researcher it was interesting to analyze the structural practice of the dance form from her narration which she lived all her life. Also the connection of a dance form which is a practice of her status of being a Devadasi (an ever married to god), the service and the enslavement to the holy god through the sadir and by ways of performing it.

Panel P005
The transformation of South Asian performing arts in the age of globalization: an anthropological analysis