Let us look at Yakshagana and its allied art-forms from the point of view of angikaabhinaya (communication through the body and gesture language). Kuchupudi and Bhagavatamela are rich in angikaabhinaya. However, in recent times, Kuchupudi has been relinquishing its theatrical format, i.e., the format of Yakshagana and Kalaapa, and is heading towards becoming a dance (nrtya) format.
Yakshagana is a term, which although collectively applies to regional performing arts of Karnataka and Andhra, in the recent years, it has been used synonymously with ‘Paduvalapaaya’ which is practiced in the Karavali and Malenadu regions of coastal Karnataka. The current article uses the word ‘Yakshagana’ in this popular sense, but we must keep the generic significance of the term in our mind.
Art and its purpose
For the primitive man, who led his life like an animal, hunting was the primary means of livelihood. The current article examines the process by which a rustic activity such as hunting helped in the evolution of sophisticated theatrical art forms. We will need to closely examine the relation between reality and the ideality, livelihood and life, the worldly and the sublime while dealing with this subject. When we question ourselves thus, we might be pleasantly surprised with the discoveries we make.
Of late in classical dance performances, the proportion of nrutta, which lacks creative interpretation and expression, is on the rise. At the same time, rasabhinaya, i.e., aesthetic communication with creative interpretation of the lyrics and the music is decreasing.
The Nāṭyaśāstra is the world's oldest treatise on performing arts. It is more than 2,500 years old. This encyclopedic work on art by Bharata muni is divided into 36 chapters and contains more than 6,000 verses. The first chapter of the Nāṭyaśāstra gives a semi-historical and mostly fictional account of the creation of the work. This is how Bharata narrates it thus:
The rigorous training that a Carnatic musician undergoes for several years teaches him/her lessons that are worth applying to other areas as well. An outsider might find it hard to make sense of the repetitive practice but over the years an insider realizes the benefit of the long, lonely hours of playing the same line till it becomes a part of the consciousness.