Suddha Nrittam

Suddha Nrittam was restored to its former glory by Mangudi Dorairaja Iyer. The dance technique follows all the rules of the sastra, retains all the basic requirements of Nrittam, but does not incorporate the abhinaya and geetha.

There are no jati utterances, cymbals or tala measurement with the hand. The only sounds in Suddha Nrittam are that of the mridangam and paada paata (the rhythmic sound of ankle bells).

Suddha Nrittam consists of various tala patterns played on the mridangam and illustrated mostly by the feet, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes in the jugalbandhi style. Dr.V.Raghavan in his elaborate introduction to ‘Nritta Ratnavalli’ – the magnum opus of dance style-defines Suddha Nrittam as “Paada paata (footwork) performed with the body kept straight and free from any sympathetic swerving, where the tala beats are very distinctive and articulate.”

It is sometimes wrongly claimed that Paada paata performances in Suddha Nrittam brings Kathak into Bharatanatyam. The fact is that its resurrection brings age old South Indian dance idioms, once forgotten, to life.

His Holiness the Paramaacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam proclaimed that Suddha Nrittam was “indefinable grace produced merely through footwork, hand and hip movements” (Kalki 22 Aug, 1982).

In 1980, when he felt his life was drawing to a close, Mangudi Dorairaja Iyer bequeathed Suddha Nrittam in five gatis to Revathi, along with his personal Mrindangam and Cymbals.

The Master of Mangudi and the stellar efforts of his disciple Revathi Ramachandran bring the dance legacy of Suddha Nrittam to modern day audiences.