Source:; Author: Anita R Ratnam; Photo Courtesy: R Ravindran

Indian classical dance seems like an all-woman’s world. After all, in an age of multi-national imprints, power suits and private jets, which man would want to consider a thankless career pursuing the classical or contemporary arts? But look back in history and you will find that all the earliest dancers, dance teachers, ballet masters, choreographers, scholars, critics and historians have been men who have nurtured and, in turn, been nurtured by the dance forms they chose to embrace. Whether Ram Gopal or Uday Shankar, the first international impressions about Indian dance came from the male dancer. They were India’s answers to the likes of Vaslav Nijinsky, Ted Shawn and Diaghilev. Forms like the Kathakali were the exclusive domain of men; Kuchipudi was initially taught and performed only by men. Gotipua dancers in Odisha were young boys and Odissi emerged in its present avatar due to the untiring efforts of dancer-gurus like the late Kelucharan Mohapatra and Debaprasad Das.

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C.V. Chandrasekar in performance. Photo: R. Ravindran