Tanjavur Natyam: A Love Affair with Dāniké

Sathir Dance Art

A Love Affair with Dāniké

By Jeetendra Hirschfeld

July 15, 2018

The Art Of Dāniké —The varnam, dāniké, with lyrics and music in the ragam todi, is a work of outstanding artistry written by Śivanandam of the Tanjore Quartet. The lyrics of the varnam extol the good nature, polished manners and cultured tastes of the rajah Sivaji and two of his Tanjorian courtesans. The song is full of humorous innuendo and suggestive comments, all done in the best possible taste.

    His Highness Maharajah Sivaji (1832-1855) ruled over the ancient kingdom of Tanjore with peaceful splendour and beneficent vigour. Rajah Sivaji, always splendidly dressed in clothes embroidered with gold tissue, heavy strings of golden jewels and bedecked with precious ornaments of rare value, devoted his time, just like his predecessor and father, the great Maharajah Servojee, to the pursuit of culture, learning and art. This inspired the royal court dance master, Tanjore Sivanandam, to write his timeless dance song—Dāniké is presented through the words of a highly skilled Tanjorian courtesan. She, while presenting a plea on behalf of another courtesan, goes into raptures about the king’s virtues, thus betraying her own carnal craving for the king! Dānikē celebrates the desire for love. The dance should reveal the courtesan at the center of the song, and from there it radiates all out… Read More

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