But wait, there is more- More strange Europeans to come! This beautiful woman, Rukmini Devi, was the daughter of an Indian Theosophist. At age 16, she “fell in love” with a 42 year old Australian Theosophist, and to the shock of high society, married him in 1920. (I wonder if he fell in love with her?) Rukmini saw Anna Pavlova dance in Australia and decided to take up dance. She became a dancer and founded Kalakshetra, a traditional dance and arts college which still thrives today. This large property is close to the Theosophical Society. It sounds like the Theosophists and their Indian friends had lots of money and managed to buy up huge tracts of wild land to pursue their interests. It’s a blessing for the area- hundreds of acres of land protected from development, and in the case of Kalakshetra, a school for young Indians who want to study and excel in their tarditional cultural arts.
We walked around the “cottages” at the dance school observing classes in action. Dancers have to learn how to sing the songs as well, so there were separate classes for vocal and dance. An increasing number of young men are becoming Bharatanatyam dancers as well- this is not traditional but more popular these days.
Last night I attended a “Kathakali” concert at Kalakshetra. Kathakali is the traditional folk dance of Kerala, the neighboring state on the east side of South India. This tradition is truly a folk tradition- and loud, wild, primal, earthy, and colorful. This video portrays the very beginning of the concert- when the main king character is revealed. It really feels like a village presentation to me- the simple curtain held up by villagers, the throbbing drums, the tantalizing view of the dancer.