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Tanjore Gnyana’s Pas Seul at Royapuram

  By Jeetendra Hirschfeld Essay: Amsterdam, September 2006 [first published on in 2008] (Updated Sept. 2016) All Rights Reserved © Sathir Dance Art Trust PDF version of this paper on Academia website.  Introduction      Many years ago, my teacher, Rajamani, told me a few beautiful anecdotes about the famous svarajathi—“ē mandayānarā”—by her dance-master, Meenakshisundaram from Panthanainallur:— Tanjore Gnyana was a celebrated courtesan dancer who was not only a highly skilled dancer but equally skilled at singing and playing musical instruments. She enthralled audiences with her flair for abhinaya and commanded immense respect even from the revered nattuvanars of Tanjore. Gnyana was to dance at the upcoming visit by British Royalty. Her nattuvanar Mahadeva and she prepared ‘ē mandayānarā’ for many days. Gnyana travelled to Madras and danced the svarajathi at the feet of the prince. After the performance, the prince showered her with precious gifts. There was no

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