Kalidasa who flourished about the 5th century AD, delineates in his Malavikagnimitram on how a dancer should perform – her deportment, her sense of timing, her involvement with the rendering, her communication with the beholder.  Sudraka wrote one play Mrichchakatika (The little clay cart) where the principal character is a courtesan Vasantasena, who by virtue of her profession, is also a dancer. Panini (700 – 600 BC) wrote the Ashtadhyayi, the earliest manual of grammar and while commenting on the root nrit (to dance), refers to Silalin and Krisasava, said to be the authors of certain vital and codified postulates of dance. Kautilya (4th c BC) wrote the first work on stagecraft, the Arthashastra, and from this we learn that arts such as dancing, acting, singing, playing on musical instruments and painting were then under State control, which implies that it was the responsibility of the State to maintain professionals in these fields. All these authors and texts belong to northern India.
(‘Traditions of Indian Classical Dance,’ Mohan Khokar, 1979, Chapter ‘Down the centuries’)

Inscriptions from Karnataka temples record Challabbe, Veena Poti and Matibodhamma who were Chalukyan devadasis. Piriya Ketala Devi, the queen consort of Chalukya Vikramaditya, was a great dancer. Queen Shantala and Bommaladevi were praised as Natya Saraswati, Vichitranartana Sutradhare etc. The Belur temple was built under the direct supervision of Queen Shantala. The last record mentions a devadasi Puttananji, who donated silver vessels to Lord Cheluvanarayana of Melkote temple in 1890AD.
(‘Classical dance heritage of Karnataka’ edited by Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal, chapter ‘Dance heritage of Karnataka,’ Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal, 2012)

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