New Delhi: The kinship was quaint, spanning two continents and cultures. And yet American percussionist and Carnatic musician Douglas M. Knight Jr. is one of the most important people in Bharatanatyam legend Thanjavur Balasaraswati's illustrious household. The American exponent of percussion instrument mridangam is the late dancer's son-in-law. And he is now her biographer.
"I didn't choose her; I was part of her family. My association with several members of Balasaraswati's family has been at the centre of my musical and personal life since the late 1960s," Knight told IANS. Knight's biography of the dancer, "Balasaraswati: Her Art & Life (Westland)" arrived at bookstores in India last week.
Balasaraswati (1918-1984) was one of the first generation of Bharatanatyam dancers who took the genre out of the confines of the devadasi or temple dancer traditions to put it in the mainstream of Indian culture. Balasaraswati was known for her sophistication and elegance of style.
Knight's first encounter with the family dates back to 1971. He "encountered her brother Ranganathan as an undergraduate at the University of Wesleyan (Connecticut) in 1971". "Ranga was a Carnatic musician. I decided to follow this practice and when I was a graduate student at the California Institute of Arts, Balasaraswati held a residency there," Knight said....more
10:55 AM, Feb 23, 2012