Sunday, 15 September 2019

The buzz around the dance of the bee - Soch: Column by Dr. Arshiya Sethi

I don't know how many dancers follow fashion, but though it starts with fashion, this is in effect a good dance story. So go ahead and read it. In 2015, there was a big change in the leading fashion house of Gucci. It got a new Creative Director, Allessandro Michel, who grew from being a victim of bullying in school to being responsible for all of Gucci's collection and global brand image, earning for him the position of one of Hypebeast's HB100, an honor bestowed to the top 100 most influential people in the fashion industry. One of the first changes he affected was the inclusion of a menagerie of animals - birds, butterflies and bees. Most prominent amongst them are the bees. You find the bees on sneakers, bags and on the red carpet as the self weave of suits that bear the brand's label. I suspect that the choice has less to do with environmental concerns, rather than quirkiness quotient of designers.

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Saturday, 14 September 2019

The Bharathanatomy Series: Anatomical Movements and Directions - Sneha Rajagopalan - Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column

"Dancers are both athletes and artists," declared Morgot Fonteyn. This notion however is only being recognised in more recent times in the Indian classical dance world. If you have ever heard Kalakshetra's Jayachandran Surendran speak, you will know that historically, dance forms such as Bharatanatyam were not performed with the intention of performing to an audience. Thus, concepts such as body alignment, postural control and flexibility were almost non-existent.

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Tuesday, 10 September 2019

23rd Parampara Festival of Dance and Music - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari"

On 30th August, all roads led to Kamani Auditorium for the inauguration of the 23rd Parampara Dance and Music Festival organized by Raja and Radha Reddy's Natya Tarangini institute. Organized for the past 22 years, it features top dance gurus and musicians showcasing their disciples in terms of Parampara, in terms of how tradition is passed on from generation to generation, to present great gurus like Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra in Odissi and Pandit Birju Maharaj in Kathak and their recent new disciples in respective dance forms.

I had not attended the Parampara Festival for past four years as I was touring. Raja, Radha and Kaushalya Reddy have over the years earned lot of goodwill with a large following in the capital. They have trained for past 40 years, hundreds of students in their institution. Therefore when I saw the turnout of the audience I was further impressed at the disciplined way they were seated and there was pin drop silence. Normally, my experience is of a noisy crowd when the admission is free. The arrangements for inviting the audience Kaushalya informed me, was that they have a good data base and they collect the passes online and attend in large number. That was heartening.

After the usual lighting of the lamp and Raja's own announcement about Bharat Bharati, the latest choreography dwelling upon the eternal values that are found in our sacred texts and in Bharatamuni's Natyashastra, the group choreography opened up with traditional Rangapuja as is seen in Kuchipudi, the young dancers sprinkling the water to sanctify the stage. Then entered a bevy of apsara like young maidens holding plates in their hands and started decorating the place, performing to shlokas and created an atmosphere of devotion. Raja and Radha dressed in normal clothes appeared on stage, explained through dance the evolution of Natyashastra, how from four Vedas it was created as fifth Veda.

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Wednesday, 4 September 2019

A tale of two cities and more! - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

August brought flood and fury - not just the real watery one but the metaphorical one too. The anger against the Sangeet Natak Akademi awards this year resonated in magazines, editorials (including in narthaki) and of course on the social media. Representations were made to Minister of Culture in Delhi and the Secretary Culture too. Let's hope something concrete comes of all this complaining. Let's also understand, in India, no awards list is infallible or final. There'd be always nazarbattus! Or the names on lists will have lacunae and loopholes. 

Should we scrap state awards altogether? Or put a stop for a few years? In the meantime, reassess and revitalise the process. According to me, the problem starts at the outset when a candidate's bio data is sought by those recommending him or her. As a national akademi, SNA should have the bio datas of all who matter, for the minute a person's bio data is sought the candidate starts canvassing.

Of course, these days most canvass, nay pester, earlier awardees to nominate them. Nomination should be secret. Those in the running should not even know. Simple. We Indians have found ways to beat the system to allow for corruption. In this simple case of awards processing, this can easily be rectified. All nominations must happen in complete secrecy. Period. Let SNA do some work and collect the resumes from state akademis or the zonal centres. What's the big deal? 

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Sunday, 1 September 2019

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - September 2019

Anita says...September 2019

Most people believe 
That physicists are explaining the world 
They are only dancing in it
- GARY ZUKAV, American spiritual teacher

For almost all of last month, I was far away from home. Not just geographically but also from the familiarity of dance, performance and the arts. And yet, global events and the magic of the internet kept me abreast of so many events in our wonderful and fractured world of the performing arts. The distance from my cultural space helped give me a respite and an objective view of many issues and shifts in our lives as performers. Some ideas are still floating as unresolved questions. Others have settled into patterns that are now more than mere trends. As we move into the Fall season and cooler weather, I share more thoughts and ideas.

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Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Nrityagram Ensemble puts best foot forward - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

In memory of Protima Bedi on her death anniversary on 18th August, for past 21 years Nrityagram dancers present performances showcasing the continuous progress they have been making in the sylvan setting at the now internationally renowned dance village, Nrityagram. This year, the program was held at Ambedkar Auditorium, Bangalore.

Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy had received special training in Natyashastra under Dr Padma Subrahmanyam, learning various aspects of movements mentioned in Natyashastra. The charis, movements on floor known as 'Bhu Charis' was the opening number involving dancers from the age group of 5 to 10, all dressed up in colourful costumes, entering stage in two rows and taking positions covering the space in a disciplined manner. 

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