I think, after everything I've learned, that I do believe there is a traceable lineage of evolution between sanskrit poetry and Indian performance arts. I say this in reference to my post on The Invention of Tradition, and definitely keeping in mind all of my confusion about where bharatanatyam has grown from. I think there are definite ruptures, but in the grand scheme of things, it is an evolution of sorts.
I am going to make this a point of my research over the next year, really trying to understand what happened from the Sanskrit literary tradition to dance and music. Here are the unofficial reasons for my hypothesis:
1. When poets would read Sanskrit literature way back when (not sure of the date) they would use hand gestures while they were speaking to help people understand the meaning of what they were saying. Whether this was an acoustic thing or just extra, who knows? But I wonder if this is a pre-cursor to mudras.
2. During recitation of slokas, etc, people started to assign specific pitches at specific times. Could this in turn indicate some sort of precursor for ragas? Eventually this was also implemented with specific hand gestural use.
These two things sparked my interest. What actually happened to separate literature from drama, and then drama from dance and music? There used to be a saying: "without language, music, and dance, there is no art". Obviously we view these 3 as separate, distinct categories now. How did that happen?
More to come on books I have to read in order to further probe this topic.