Vie scientifique | Colloques internationaux

	Temple, Court, Salon, Stage. Crafting Dance Repertoire in South India

Temple, Court, Salon, Stage. Crafting Dance Repertoire in South India

A day-long interdisciplinary conference dedicated to the historicization of dance repertoire in South India

9 juin 2015 | 9h - 18h

Venue : Maison des Cultures du Monde - 101, boulevard Raspail, Paris 75006.


Organized by

Tiziana LEUCCI (CNRS-CEIAS, Paris; Conservatoire ‘G. Fauré’, Est Ensemble, Les Lilas)
Dominic GOODALL (EFEO, Paris) 
Davesh SONEJI (McGill University, Montreal, and Visiting Professor at the EHESS-CEIAS, June 2015)

A joint-program of the Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (CEIAS, EHESS/CNRS); the École française d’Extrême Orient (EFEO); the Dynamiques Asiatiques (PresHesam), and the Maison des Cultures du Monde, Paris.




The “classical” dance known as bharatanāṭyam is among the most popular and widely circulated cultural forms of modern South India. While many scholars have developed critical social histories of the form in recent times, the historicizing and contextualizing of the sources for the repertoire of bharatanāṭyam remain largely untackled.

This conference focuses on both the ‘living’ and ‘written’ sources of bharatanāṭyam’s rich and historically dense repertoire. Drawing on the memory of performing artists themselves, as well as on documents related to dancers and musicians found in libraries and private archives, this conference traces and reconstructs the dance’s complex and variegated choreographic traditions. Special attention will be devoted to developing an aesthetic history of the form that takes seriously the hybrid and cosmopolitan nature of the dance repertoire of the past 300 years. This is a task that involves the analysis not only of dance-making and choreography, but also of texts in a range of Indian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Marathi, and Brajbhasha), of music, poetics, and of course social history.

The conference and its performance-based sessions address a range of topics, including South Indian royal patronage by the Tanjore Maratha kings, the artistic lineages of devadāsī courtesans and dance-masters (naṭṭuvaṉārs), temple and salon-based dance and music pieces, inter-regional connections between princely states, questions of colonialism and the advent of English-language repertoire, and the place and function of repertoire in the so-called "dance revival" of the early twentieth century. The discussion also includes critical deliberations on the twentieth century itself, including the role played by cinema in the growth and dissemination of popular dance repertoires. 

Our discussion of the dance repertoire in recent centuries is supplemented and contextualized by the work of scholars working on sources that contain information about the milieu of dancers and musicians in earlier periods: inscriptions, literature, and figurative representations in sculpture, mural paintings and architecture. This unique interdisciplinary conference brings together the world's leading scholars of bharatanāṭyam dance, bridging the disciplines of philology, history, anthropology, dance studies, ethnomusicology, art history and religious studies. The latter half of the day includes presentations of never-before-seen dance and music repertoire by internationally acclaimed scholar-performers.

We wish to acknowledge the support given to this project by theCentre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (CEIAS, EHESS/CNRS); the École française d’Extrême Orient (EFEO); the Dinamiques Asiatiques (PresHesam), and the Maison des Cultures du Monde, Paris.

We hope you enjoy the conference and thank you for your participation.





Welcome & Introduction
Ines G. Zupanov (Director, CEIAS) and the conference organizers


Inaugural Lecture: Dance Repertoire in the Tanjore Library Manuscripts
B.M. Sundaram (Sangeet Natak Akademi and Kala Pariseelana, India)


10:00am-11:15am | Session 1


Chair: Emmanuel Francis (CNRS, CEIAS, Paris)

Rudraganikas: Courtesans in Siva’s Temple? Some Hitherto Neglected Sanskrit Sources
Dominic Goodall (EFEO, Pondicherry, India)
Playing Flute under a Mountain, Dancing upon a Snake Hood: About the Specificities of the Southern Contribution to the Iconography of Krsna
Charlotte Schmid (EFEO, Paris)

11:00am-11:15 am | Discussion


Coffee Break

11:45am-1:00pm | Session 2


Chair: Anne Castaing (CNRS, THALIM, Paris)

Enta Prayogam  – “Which Purpose?”
Saskia Kersenboom (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
The Voice in the Shawm: Devadasi Songs in Periya Melam Temple Repertoire
William Tallotte (SOAS, London)


12:45pm-1:00pm | Discussion

Lunch Break

2:00pm-3:15pm | Session 3

Chair: Tiziana Leucci (CNRS, CEIAS, Paris)


Dance Repertoire from Ramanathapuram Zamindari in the Late Nineteenth Century
Hari Krishnan (Wesleyan University, USA)
Dance Repertoire in Tamil and Telugu Early Print Sources
Davesh Soneji (McGill University, Canada)


3:00pm-3:15pm |  Discussion

3:15 pm - 4:30 pm | Session 4


Chair: Davesh Soneji (McGill University, Canada)

Courtesan Dance Repertoire from Coastal Andhra Pradesh
Yashoda Thakore (University of Hyderabad, India)
Temple, Stage, and Cinema Screen: V.S. Muthuswami Pillai and M. Selvam’s Dance Repertoire
Tiziana Leucci (CNRS, CEIAS, Paris)

4:15 pm - 4:30 pm | Discussion

Coffee Break

5:00pm-7:30pm | Performances


Introductions: Elizabeth Claire (CNRS, CRH, Paris)


Hari Krishnan (5:00-5:30pm)

Hari Krishnan will be performing the first half of a very rare padavarṇam in the rāga Vācaspati dedicated to King Ṣaṇmukharājeśvara Setupati (1909-1967), the last titular ruler of Ramanathapuram. The lyrics, music and jatis (clusters of rhythmic syllables) for this piece were all composed by the late Pandanallur Meenakshisundaram Pillai (1869-1954). This piece was composed for Pandanallur Jayalakshmi (b. 1930), who was one of Pillai’s last disciples from within the devadāsī community, and who eventually married Ṣaṇmukharājeśvara Setupati.

Saskia Kersenboom (5:30-6:00pm)

In continuation of the paper “Enta Prayogam?” Saskia Kersenboom will sing and dance selected compositions from Smt. P. Ranganayaki’s repertoire for daily, weekly, and festival worship from the Tiruttani Murukaṉ temple, for social rites of passage, and for Navarātri celebrations at the royal court of Karvetinagar.

Yashoda Thakore (6:00-6:30pm)

Yashoda Thakore will present three short pieces from the East Godavari district kalāvantula repertoire, as described in her paper. The first is a salām daruvu dedicated to the god Pratāparāmasvāmi and King Serfoji II of Thanjavur; the second is an excerpt from the padavarṇam in the rāga Khamās attributed to the Tanjore Quartet, and performed in the seated style; and the third is a jāvaḷi, emoyani yeñcakura(“please don’t think otherwise”) in the rāga Bhairavi.

Tiziana Leucci (6:30-7:00pm)

Tiziana will present two invocatory compositions by the late V.S. Muthuswami Pillai, the puṣpāñjali/śloka and alārippu (adapted from the original choreography).  This will be followed by an excerpt from a padavarṇam (in the rāga Ānandabhairavi) and tillānā, both choreographed by M. Selvam, son of Muthuswami Pillai.  She will conclude with a nāgasvaram composition called mallāri, adapted for dance by the late V.S. Muthuswami Pillai. This piece ends with a śloka dedicated to Śiva.  


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