Monday, 30 April 2012

Roses & Thorns - Should Leela Samson reconsider her resignation from Kalakshetra?

Several artistes around the country, the world and especially in my home town of Chennai are stunned with the news. I have been getting so many phone calls and sms messages expressing universal dismay at Leela Samson's decision. The  PIL that was filed by a disgruntled former student about her age being over 60 (totally ridiculous) was allegedly dismissed by the courts recently but her decision to resign without the knowledge of some of the Kalakshetra committee present at the April 10th meeting has added to the dismay among the leaders of the artistic community in Chennai.

Kalakshetra needs Leela Samson now more than ever. Classical dance needs a strong and capable visionary to guide it through its perilous state.

What do you feel?

Should Leela Samson reconsider her decision?

Should the voice and feelings of the artistes be heard in unison (for once!)?

Kalakshetra deserves a leader with an international profile in the arts and administration.

Leela Samson is the ideal person and she should be persuaded to continue to do her excellent work at this iconic institution.

Tell us what you feel.

Sign this Petition - Voice your support
Ministry of Culture, Board members of Kalakshetra and officials of the GOI: Reinstate Leela Samson as the Director of Kalakshetra

We urge all those who are concerned about the future of our performing arts to speak up through this online forum

- Anita Ratnam

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Interview - Johanna Devi: The rhythm is exciting - Vijay Shanker

Germany (Berlin) based Bharatanatyam exponent Johanna Devi talks about her passion for classical dance, her company Johanna Devi Dance Company, her performances in India, Germany and other countries and what keeps her on her toes, for the last seventeen years.

Read the interview in the site

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Obit / Tribute - Remembering Manna Srinivasan - Dr. Sunil Kothari

A memorial meeting was held by Dance Alliance, Asia Pacific Performing Arts Network (APPAN) in collaboration with India International Centre, New Delhi on 12th April 2012 at 6pm in the main auditorium. A large number of scholars, dancers, organizers of cultural institutions, members of IIC and friends of Manna Srinivasan gathered to pay tributes to him. He passed away on 9th March 2012 at New Delhi.

Read the tribute in the site

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Poem - Madras - Arundhathi Subramaniam

(Courtesy: Where I Live: New and Selected Poems, Bloodaxe Publishers, UK, 2009)

I was neither born nor bred here.
 But I know this city

       of casuarina and tart mango slices,
       gritty with salt and chilli
       and the truant sands of the Marina,

 the powdered grey jowls of film heroes,
Read the poem in the site

Friday, 13 April 2012

Interview - Sunayana Hazarilal: Better late than never - Vijay Shanker

A professional Kathak exponent for more than five decades, Sunayana Hazarilal was honoured with the Padma Shri last year. Sunayana is a stickler for perfection pertaining to traditional norms of the Gharana and her performances command the subtle nuances of both pure and expressional dancing. Sunayana maintains herself well with regular dance practice and also by workouts in the gym.

After a long lapse, Sunayana performed in Mumbai on 24th March at the Nehru Centre auditorium in a program organised by Natawari Dance Academy and supported by the ministry of culture, Government of India. Sunayana speaks about her dedication towards the classical dance style of Kathak and much more.

Read the interview in the site

Profile - Alone and on the move - Padma Jayaraj

It was a hot summer day in Palghat, Kerala. Heat waves radiated from the Western Ghats. But secure in a glade, forgetful of the world around, a bunch of sculptors were immersed in their work. Eight sculptors, cutting across India were contributing their work to the first Sculpture Park in the country. The lone woman among them was overseeing a crane putting her art work in proper position on the ground. A granite pillar with carvings on 4 sides reminds you of a pillar in an ancient temple in south India

If Anila Jacob is occupied, Mr. Jacob is ready to entertain. He pulls out testimonials, photographs of her works, brochures. He talks about the years past that brought her fame and recognition.  He recalls how KCS Panikar, the Principal of the College of Art, Madras, interviewed him prior to marriage making him promise that Anila would continue her artistic career. And he has kept the promise.

Anila was a born into a family that loved art, in Kottayam, Kerala. Her grandfather had artistic inclinations. That the family had sent her to learn art in those days speaks of how she was released from hold. And she was the first woman to win many awards in a male dominant field. Inspired by gifted women students who made their marks later in the art scene, Anila remained under the spell of her guide, and guardian, KCS. The stamp of the school ‘is still visible in the work of this sculptor who is part of Cholamandal.’

Read the article in the site

Nritya Dhara’s two day festival of Indian classical dances - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Vani Madhav, an Odissi exponent and a disciple of Guru Sudhakar Sahoo, mounted  a two day festival of Indian classical dances titled Nritya Bibhabari under her institution banner Nritya Dhara, at Azad Bhavan Auditorium of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on 7th and 8th April 2012.

This was the second edition of the festival, since Vani Madhav moved from Bangalore to Delhi. She has been active on the scene for more than two decades and has started training young students at Gurgaon, where she is based.

Inaugurating the festival, former Ambassador to USA and former Director General of ICCR, Mr. Lalit Mansingh paid compliments to Vani Madhav for her initiative in the changing scenario of classical dances. The collaborative efforts on the part of dancers to come together and support each other are most welcome. The young generation respecting the senior artistes and presenting young dancers along with them augurs well under present circumstances when one notices the audiences dwindling for classical dances. Not fazed by that, the young dancers have taken up the challenges to bring to the next generation relevance and importance of Indian classical dances as a precious cultural heritage.   

Read the article in the site

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Mothers by Daughters - Demystifying Maya - Madhu Nataraj

It is indeed a daunting task to write about how one ‘perceives’ their guru and if the guru happens to be your mother, it gets even tougher!
Dr. Maya Rao’s name is synonymous with dance. Internationally renowned Kathak exponent, recognized for her path breaking choreographies and for her pioneering work in the field of dance education, she personifies grace and dignity and lives her life by example.
From my childhood days of falling asleep on her lap to the sound of ghungroos and the tabla, memories of her supervising my homework and walking me to school, cajoling my school authorities to grant me leave so I could travel with her on her international tours to teaching and guiding me through my initial years in dance to today, where she is my strongest consultant, critic and proud mentor. Every single day of our lives we traverse from our equation as mother and daughter to Guru and Shishya ...effortlessly.
A recipient of  several prestigious awards such as the President of India award, Shantala prashasti, the Emeritus fellowship , honorary doctorate, to mention a few, this year she adds 2 more awards to her awards kitty. I speak to her about her life, her dance…

Read the article in the site

Commoditization of Art - Deepa Chakravarthy

The art scene today has undergone a metamorphosis of change. Do we attribute this change for the good or should we just step from within the circle and try to understand a bird’s eye view and look around.

There can be many and more for the media, and our own government institutions to project that our tradition is the oldest tradition. I don’t want to go into how many centuries old – I still read many different things in different places.  The cultural wing of the Government of India likes to grant grand funds for excavating dancing figures in order to project India as among the oldest civilization, evolved and advanced that had the aesthetics to promote art and culture even as early as 4500 years ago. This no doubt immediately puts India on the spotlight in the international scene for being the most sophisticated civilization then. The girl in the statue here conveys volumes of the time and space murmuring secrets of a cultural lifestyle followed in ancient times. And from there on there is no looking back in justifying the question of our heritage or the tradition that we follow now.

Read the article in the site

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Margam is dead, long live the Margam! - Veejay Sai

Oh! We are drifting from the ‘Margam’ talk, are we? Just like the ‘Margam’ itself has drifted considerably from where it began and lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit that Tagore was anxious about. In today’s digital era when dance and music lessons are held on skype and social networking sites, who and what define a traditional ‘Margam’ or a proper guru? In a time when there are more festivals than dancers, who has the patience to sit and learn a ‘Margam’ the way it ought to have been done? This is the age of designer Margams. The economics of sabhas and festivals is directly proportional to a deterring performance. Dance is taught more in gymnasiums and human laboratories than in the custody of caring and concerned gurus. From obsession with lines to controversial content, anything can be presented. In an era of ‘Global baani’, anything can be patched to make an evening’s presentation. If one was to say that Bharatanatyam dance form in India was dying a slow torturous death, then the current state of the ‘Margam’ signifies its decreasing sluggish heartbeat. Who is accountable for this? 

Read the article in the site

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Visakhapatnam - City of Dance Destiny - B Venkat

Visakhapatnam is referred to as a ‘City of Destiny.’ Hills, sea and beaches, sizable middle class segment, education industry, growing film industry, simple and easy-going life style, enthusiastic celebration of culture and festivities (Shivaratri, Diwali, Sankranthi), make the city an ideal choice to be the city of dance destiny too.
Visakha has got its basics right; these include wonderful venues to host dance programs viz., Port Kalavani Auditorium, Vempati Kalakshetra, Kalabharathi; reputed dance and music gurus; University with dance department, sizable student community, and a dancers’ association.
Read the article in the site

Margam Festival, Bengaluru (March 29 - 31, 2012) - Dr.Sunil Kothari

An unusual three day festival focusing on varnams in Bharatanatyam suite was conceived by Usha RK based in Bengaluru. She has been active since past 30 years and is organizing several dance events. As a part of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of The Music Academy of Bengaluru at Chowdaiah Hall, co-sponsored by Dept. of Kannada and Culture, with support from SLV Enterprises, Indus Sports Resorts Pvt. Ltd, Vaishnavi Palace, Nrityanjali School of Bharatanatyam of Poornima Ashok, Usha succeeded in her aim at focusing attention on varnams.

Every evening at 6 pm, dancers took to the stage and within one hour performed a varnam, preceded by a number and included one more number either a javali or a tillana after the varnam. But the aim was to concentrate for nearly 45 minutes on varnam to retain its flavor to relish the structure and scope of abhinaya in a varnam with its musical excellence, bringing back the glory of a varnam in the present day dance scenario, where attention span of the audience has been wavering within 30 minutes and varnams are getting shortened to suit the patience of the audiences.

A praiseworthy aim and indeed succeeded as the audience, though thin (on account of forthcoming examinations towards end of March) responded with rounds of applause at the right moments. The evening performances were a connoisseurs’ delight. There was a conscious effort on part of the performers to give the best while enjoying the time frame that allowed them to relax and not rush through.

Read the article in the site

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Poll - April 2012

(The examples of classical dance ITEMS being marketed piece meal and 
specialised TEACHING of classical, traditional, ritual forms being sold to the highest bidder)

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