Saturday, October 10, 2009

The stage

Rukmini Devi Arundale faced a great deal of opposition in her efforts to re-interpret Bharatanatyam; one of the arguments was that the dance form had become so bawdy, which is why it was rooted out from the very temples, where it was born. Rukmini Devi's intent was that the dance "...should create the temple atmosphere on stage...", as she searched for a design which would meet that intent.

The result was the Koothambalam in the Kalakshetra complex. Designed and built with the help of D.Appukuttan Nair, who had also built the Koothambalam at Kerala Kalamandalm, the building can accommodate 750 - of which 50 will have to sit on the floor directly in front of the stage. The stage itself is raised only a foot-and-a-half from the rest of the floor, allowing the audience to clearly observe the footwork of the dancers. The building has walls of wooden slats, which allows the breeze to blow through, along with sounds from the outside.

This is a view of the Koothambalam - also called the Bharata Kalakshetra Auditorium - from the rear. The front is graced by Rukmini Devi's statue - and her spirit certainly pervades every rafter of the Koothambalam!

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