From the Jacket
The Classical Dances and Costumes of India by Kay Ambrose steers clear of the
twin evils of writing for the learned and the dilettante writing for others of
his class. It treats the four classical schools of Indian dance-Bharata Natyam,
Kathakali, Kathak and Manipuri-with understanding and objectivity. The reader is
provided with a sketch of Indian mythology and music before he is exposed to the
dances proper, which are presented in such a manner that none will experience
any difficulty in learning the divine and mundane aspects of these schools of
dance. The chapter on the costumes of India gives not only idea of the correct
costumes of the particular schools of dance but also of the endless variety and
rich colour of Indian costumes. In addition to classical dances, the reader is
given a taste of Indian folk dances and dances of Ceylon.
The technical sketches more than supplement the text. The reader will not
only be able to understand the various dance styles but recognize them while
witnessing public performances.
About the Author
A few, if they try hard, may be able even to demonstrate authentic dance
Clarity and economy of expression coupled with accuracy of illustration are
the hallmarks of this book which no dance-lover should miss.
Introduction by Ram Gopal
Foreword by Arnold L. Haskell
Author's Preface Explanation for the reader. Ram Gopal. A summary of the
various dance-styles. Practical information. Indian dancing to-day: the creative
dance: dance critics. Books on Indian subjects: a short-cut to understanding.
The technical sketches.
Chapter I. Gods and Mythology in Indian Dancing Intoduction. Siva, Lord
of the Dance. Krishna, the Blue God. Indian Ideals of Physical Beauty.
Chapter II. Indian Music Introduction. Sketches of Indian musical
Chapter III. Bharata Natya, The Ancient Temple Dance of the Tanjore
courtesans, South India Introduction. A general survey: past till present. The
degradation and disappearance of Bharata Natya. The renaissance. The arrangement
of the contemporary programme of Bharata Natya. Bharata Natya-practical.
Technical sketches dealing with: costume: deportment: elementary steps: advanced
combinations: the Alarippu in its entirely: extracts from a Padam: from a
Tbillana: and some warnings.
Chapter IV. Kathakali, The Dance-Drama of Malabar, South India Notes on the
history and background of Kathakali. The present-day dance-drama. Practical and
Kathakali-practical Technical sketches dealing with: traditional make-up and
costume: basic posture: the sari-dance: kalasams: a fantasy on the Nine Moods or
Rasas: mudras and the ancient Hindu gesture-language: a gesture-story of Lord
Siva's family life: the dance of Garuda, the Golden Eagle.
Chapter V. Kathak, The Whiling Dance from North India Introduction: history
and background. Practical observations: description of Kathak class. Technical
sketches of: costume: basic posture: the stylised Kathak "walk":
salami - or greeting-torab: a tukra: a corab featuring sangit or dramatic
Chapter VI. Dances of Manipur and Assam, from the North-East Notes and
sketches concerning: a Naga Chief: a Manipuri drum-dance: a detailed account of
the classical costumes: a Radha-Krishna ballet.
Chapter VII. A Patchwork of Indian Folk-Dances
Chapter VIII. Dances of Ceylon The big Pera-bera: The Khomba Kankaria:
Kandyan dances: a panteru-dancer.
Chapter IX. Costumes of India General notes on Indian dress: and technical
sketches of: the traditional Court-Dress of Rajputana: how to wear a classical
South Indian sari, and dhoti: a Coorgi sari: the classical choli or Indian
blouse: how to wear a Sinhalese sari, and lungi.
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