Between the period 1800 to 1920, Bharatha natyam as a performing art took a back seat. Under the British rule, the art of dance suffered a lot on account of severl reasons. The Political instability and the loss od patronage resulted in a set back for the art of dance. The British system of education did not give any recognition to dance as a subject of study. The attitude of people was to appreciate Western Styles and deplore the Indian Styles (indigeneous arts).
The early decades of the 20th century saw revival on account of few curious westerners and Dancers like Anna Pavlova (legendary Russian Ballerina), Ruth St.Denis and Ted Shawn from USA and Indian dedicated pioneers like E.Krishna Iyer, Dr.Rukminidevi Arundale, etc.
E. Krishna Iyer
In 1926, E. Krishna Iyer, a young lawyer, played an important role in the revival of Bharatha Natyam. He used to perform on various platforms by doning the attire of female bharatha natyam dancer to remove the stigma attached to the art. In 1927, he organised the first ‘All India Music Conference’ at Madras, during the session of the Indian National Congress and as an offshoot of the conference, the ‘Music Academy’ was born in 1928. For a decade he worked as one of its secretaries.
With the arrival of Rukmini Devi a new chapter opened in the history of BharatNatyam. She improvised the style to raise the status of dance. She took lessons from Mylapore Gauri Amma and Pandanallur Menakshi Sundaram. Later she removed the unpleasnt elements from th dance and devised artistic costumes, used padams with spiritual import and thus contributed in removing the stigma of erroticism. ‘Kalakshetra’, the institute found by her was a meeting place of great artists, scholars, musicians and gurus.
National spirit coupled with the freedom movement was responsible for the increase in the revival of performances at various places. Some of the other dancers and exponents in those days were Pandanallur Jayalakshmi and Jeevaratnam, disciples of Pandanallur Guru Meenakshisundaram Pillai, Ram Gopal, Mrinalini Sarabhai and others. Since then, the art of dance has never looked back and has been progressing, developing and reaching new heights through the numerous dedicated, innovative dancers. As a result we see how popular BharatNatyam has become all over the world.