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Balasaraswati: Her Art and Life

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Balasaraswati: Her Art and Life,  Jr. Douglas M. Knight, book reviewBalasaraswati was unique in that she was one of the few lightbearers for her community of dancers and represented a form that was almost lost after Independence took Bharat Natyam over and brought it within strict, almost sanitized guidelines. Balasaraswati along with Rukmini Devi Arundale belonged to the form’s renaissance. She came from the matrilineal devidasi tradition of South India, which like Indian classical music performed by the courtesans of Delhi and Lucknow, has a long heritage of artistic practices. Before she turned thirty, this dancer had become a legend in her own time. However she and her family relocated to the United States in an attempt to preserve what had been handed down to them through the generations, which was gradually being sidelined in the post 1950’s since it was seen as being very far from the mainstream.


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