Theatre and Its Other

Abhinavagupta on Dance and Dramatic Acting


What is Dance? What is Theatre? What is the boundary between enacting a character and narrating a story? When does movement become tinted with meaning? And when does beauty shine alone as if with no object? These universal aesthetic questions find a theoretically vibrant and historically informed set of replies in the oeuvre of the eleventh-century Kashmirian author Abhinavagupta. The present book offers the first critical edition, translation, and study of a crucial and lesser known passage of his commentary on the Nāṭyaśāstra, the seminal work of Sanskrit dramaturgy. The nature of dramatic acting and the mimetic power of dance, emotions, and beauty all play a role in Abhinavagupta’s thorough investigation of performance aesthetics, now presented to the modern reader.
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Elisa Ganser, Ph.D. (La Sapienza, Rome), is a researcher at the Department of Indian Studies at the University of Zurich. She has published articles on Indian theatre and dance, and co-edited Theatrical and Ritual Boundaries in South Asia (CIS 19.1–2, 20.1).

0 Introduction
 0.1 A Forgotten Chapter in the History of Indian Aesthetics
 0.2 Recovering Dance through Texts: A Note on Method

1 Nāṭyaśāstra and Abhinavabhāratī: Trends and Open Questions
 1.1 Editorial History and Textual Reception
 1.2 Archiving Performance: Texts and Images
 1.3 The Nāṭyaśāstra and the Place of Dance in It
 1.4 The Abhinavabhāratī: A Medieval Document on Performance

Part 1 Practice and Aesthetics of Indian Dance

2 Formalizing Dance, Codifying Performance
 2.1 Nāṭya, nṛtta, and nṛtya between Movement and Mimesis
 2.2 Dance as Technique: aṅgahāra, karaṇa, recaka
 2.3 Between Gender and Genre: tāṇḍava, sukumāra, lāsya
 2.4 Expanding the Idea of nṛtta
 2.5 Tradition, Creativity, and Artistry: A Śaiva Perspective

3 The Aesthetics of Dance
 3.1 Dance within Theatre, Dance without Theatre
 3.2 Enacting Emotions: A vademecum for the Actor
 3.3 Communication without Words
 3.4 Dance, Beauty, and the Fabrication of Dramatic Fiction
 3.5 Reshaping the Idea of abhinaya in Dance

Part 2 Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of Abhinavabhāratī ad Nāṭyaśāstra 4.261cd–269ab

4 Introduction to the Edition
 4.1 General Remarks on the Transmission of the Abhinavabhāratī
 4.2 Genealogy of the Present Text: The Sources
 4.3 A Note on the Sanskrit Text and Translation
 4.4 Symbols and Abbreviations in the Apparatus

Analysis of ABh ad 4.261cd–269ab

Edition and Translation: Abhinavabhāratī ad Nāṭyaśāstra 4.261cd–269ab

Appendix: Kāvyānuśāsana of Hemacandra (pp. 445–449)
All those interested in the history of Indian dance and theatre and in Abhinavagupta’s aesthetics, including scholars and students of Indology, performance, dance, and theatre studies, as well as performers.
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