Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Obit / Tribute - Pt. Sundaralal Gangani - Ashish Mohan Khokar

Pt. Guru Sundaralal Gangani passed away on auspicious kartik poornima, on December 17, 2013, in his home town of Baroda. Scion of Jaipur Gharana, he was brother to Guru Kundanlal Gangani. Between them, they trained scores of Kathak dancers in Baroda, Delhi, USA. Anjani Ambegaonkar, Dharamsiji Shah, Shovana Narayan, Prerana Shrimali, Rajendra Gangani, sons Harish and Jagdish Gangani are some of their serious disciples. They have trained many more.

Read the tribute in the site

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Article - Felicitations to Swapnasundari and Janardhanan - V.P. Dhananjayan

When I was the convener of the Natya Kala Conference in 1995- 96, Krishna Gana Sabha audience gave the best lecture demonstration merit award to both Swapnasundari and A. Janardhanan. After that, it has taken all these years for them to be elevated to Nritya Choodamani and Acharya Choodamani. My hearty congratulations to both of them. 

Read the article in the site

Friday, 6 December 2013

Ancient traditions, Modern banis - Ashish Mohan Khokar

Continuing on theme and subject of banis (thanks to spin-off of Alarmel Valli’s Oct. focus on her own bani, of which she is a worthy representative) I bring to you two artistes – Aniruddha Knight, grandson of the great Bala and Murali Mohan Kalva, grand student of Sunderlal Gangani. Aniruddha represents the Bala bani (Balamma, in figure of speech, left the Tanjore bani - to which she was born - far behind and even surpassed it) and Murali Mohan Kalva has taken the Jaipur gharana far ahead. 

Read the review in the site

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Gunjan Dance Academy celebrates 17th Annual festival - Dr Sunil Kothari

Meera Das, senior disciple of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra based in Cuttack assiduously continues Odissi training at Cuttack, though the dance scene has shifted to the capital  Bhubaneswar in a big way. Kala Vikash Kendra, the premier institution started training of Odissi dance at Cuttack, where Kelucharan Mohapatra taught Odissi to several young dancers, including Kum Kum Mohanty (nee Das), conducted workshops when dancers from different parts of India and some from abroad came to study Odissi. Later, Odissi Research Centre was established at Bhubaneswar and many Odiya dancers studied there under Kelubabu, including Meera Das, who did not settle down in Bhubaneswar. She chose to open her institution Gunjan Dance Academy at Cuttack in 1995 and has trained more than 200 young dancers at her academy. Last year I had attended its 16th annual festival and was impressed by her dedication and determination to carry on the legacy of her guru in Cuttack. Once upon a time it was Kala Vikash Kendra which drew many to its portals to study Odissi. Today, Meera Das with her dynamism and catholic outlook has succeeded in keeping the interest among people in Cuttack alive in Odissi through her academy and several events she organizes.
The three day dance and music festival she conducts features well known dancers practicing different classical dance forms and provides platform to young up and coming talented dancers as well. With a band of her dedicated supporters, including her President Gayatri Das, local committee members, her senior students, some of whom with thorough training under her, also take classes, teach and perform, and poet and critic Kedar Mishra, Meera Das continues to run her academy successfully. 

Read the review in the site

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Discovery of India: a heartwarming tribute - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Discovery of India, dance drama choreographed by Dr. Sandhya Purecha was staged at the Nehru Centre, Mumbai on 21st November. Based on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision it was choreographed first by Shanti Bardhan in 1947 and was later choreographed by Guru Acharya Parvatikumar in the 1950s both of which were produced by the Indian National Theatre. More than fifty years later, the Nehru Centre produced this dance drama. Sandhya Purecha, a senior disciple of Acharya Parvatikumar conceived this timeless saga of Indian history and evolution on the occasion of Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary and the first death anniversary of Acharya Parvatikumar.

The audience response was overwhelming. The leading lights of the city including artistes, scholars, government officials including Ashutosh Ghorpade, Director, Directorate of Cultural Affairs, Govt. of Maharashtra, Dr. Uma Vaidya, Vice- Chancellor Kavikulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University, Ramtek, late Guru Parvatikumar’s wife Sumati Parvatikumar were present. The music score composed by Manoj Desai and arranged by Mandar Parkhi resonated in the hall. The music with catchy tunes, beats and blending of eclectic musical instruments unfolded every era of human history right from the Stone Age to the post-independence period of India.

Read the review in the site

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The celestial Apsaras descend upon Singapore’s Esplanade - Dr Sunil Kothari

Esplanade on Bay at Singapore wore a festive look for ten days from 15th November with Kalaa Utsav, Indian Festival of Arts as a part of various festivals Esplanade organizes for celebrating New Year of various communities, to strengthen the community harmony among the multicultural population. Now in its 10th year, Kalaa Utsav has grown in its dimension ranging from classical dance performances, vocal and instrumental music, theatre and three day fest to ten days bonanza of multiple arts and several venues embracing literary, visual, performing arts and popular arts including free outdoor performances at concourse and outdoor auditorium, some events with free admission, drawing a continuous stream of visitors, aficionados, artists, musicians, literary figures, authors, writers, workshops, exhibitions of photographs, textile installations, discussion on Ayurveda, the science of life and what have you. Like its counterparts in USA, London, Avignon, Perth and Adelaide, Esplanade on the Bay in Singapore consists of venues right from the Grand Theatre to Library esplanade, including Concert Hall, Recital Studio, Theatre Studio, Rehearsal Studio, Outdoor Theatre and Concourse.  Mind boggling events are scheduled bringing international artistes from near and far with a clever mix of local talent.
The most fascinating event that I witnessed was a collaborative work sponsored by Esplanade as a co-production ‘Angkor: An Untold Story,’ a dance-drama, with Apsaras Arts, a Singapore based reputed institute offering training in classical Bharatanatyam and allied arts, under the supervision and direction of Neila Sathyalingam, Founder, Artistic Director and mentor. She and her late husband S Sathyalingam have lived and taught dance and arts at Apsaras Arts since 1975.  Neila reiterates the fact that Singapore’s relentless pursuit of excellence in all aspects keeps focus on National Arts Council’s (NAC) aim of nurturing artists, musicians, dancers, painters and sculptors.   

Read the review in the site

Friday, 8 November 2013

Of banis and gharanas - Ashish Mohan Khokar

Two key events - poles and miles apart – one in Madras and the other in Bhubaneswar, in October, made me delve into the concept and context of banis and gharanas. Both, rather commonly used but easily misunderstood words. The one event in Madras was ‘50 years of Alarmel Valli’s dancing career’ which she had the class to celebrate by not dancing herself (as dancers often generally do!) but she platformed others (with help of upcoming journal and impresario Aalaap). The other event was in Odisha, where the guru bhakti of Guru Gajendra Panda made him mount the 7th Debaprasad Das Award with a 3-day music and dance festival.

Both events were miles apart in content and context but both celebrated the concept of gurus and banis – one in Bharatanatyam and the other in Odissi. Both platformed the art of their gurus, as handed down to them: Alarmel Valli, a star legatee of the Pandanallur bani and Gajendra Panda, the solid legatee of Guru Debaprasad Das. Both didn’t dance themselves but platformed other artistes instead, whom they thought fit for the occasion. Alarmel Valli presented the current music flavor of Madras sabhas, TM Krishna, and the Delhi Odissi diva, Madhavi Mudgal with her niece Arushi.  Gajendra Panda presented and awarded Delhi’s best known Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran; Chennai’s activist-artiste Anita Ratnam;  Seraikella Chhau’s  Shashadhar Acharya and senior Odissi Guru Sudhakar Sahoo. The Governor of Odisha did the honours, no less. And in Madras, film-maker Rajiv Menon gave the keynote address.

Read the article in the site

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Ah… Aah.... Aharya! - Lakshmi Vishwanathan

In Bharatanatyam as in Odissi or Kathak, the costume is a distinct statement of identity. Looking at the costume one need not have any doubts about the style of dance. When I danced Kuchipudi, I made that costume which had a particular design with a ‘Kachan’ visible at the back, indicating a distinct Telugu echo of the nine yards saree worn by the rural women. Suddenly, Bharatanatyam dancers also started wearing this ‘Kachan’ type of costume, except that the front fan was the one commonly seen in Bharatanatyam. I don’t think this innovation was necessary for the success of the dance.
The hugely popular Yamini Krishnamurthy raised the hemline of the regular costume in her heydays to show more legs, and wore blouses with what was known as an attached ‘Kachai’ dispensing with the ‘davani.’ It suited her dance and her personality. Rukmini Devi also wore a draped ‘Kachai’ in her early costumes which suited her personality.

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Article - An evolution - Vishwa Kiran

Nritarutya’s principal dancer Vishwa Kiran talks about his experience working with choreographer Madhuri Upadhya on the piece ‘Trishanku’ for the company’s production ‘Prayog 4.’

‘Want and Need,’ ‘Angry and Reckless,’ ‘Failure and perseverance.’ Trishanku has been a very personal and emotional process for Madhuri Upadhya and me. It has moved beyond a space of a mere dance performance to a space where I am living the dance. Initially, when we began discussing the piece and its structure, Madhuri decided to construct the piece in a manner that it leaves the audience in a different state of mind from the one they were in when it began. To achieve that, I had to be in a different mental space to generate a desired emotion in a confined space to a very specific speed. So the sessions used to be very quiet and extremely productive, where one instructed and the other executed with utmost honesty, while the other observed and interrupted only if required.

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Nakshatra Dance Festival at NCPA - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Visiting Mumbai and participating in the Nakshatra Dance Festival at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) was like coming back home. Since its inception, NCPA was our familiar ground, our comfort zone. We would attend all the events, felt very ’high’ and were full of dreams. Seniors and elders, encouraged us. Dr. Jamshed Bhabha, Dr. Narayan Menon, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Soli Batlivala at Akashganga Building at Bhulabhai Desai Road (former Warden Road, where NCPA started), were icons we looked up to. The dream of Dr. Jamshed Bhabha to have a Centre comparable to Lincoln Centre in New York, at Nariman Point indeed came true. The Tata Theatre, the Little Theatre, the Experimental Theatre, the Godrej Dance Theatre, the Sunken Garden, the Dr. Jamshed Bhabha Auditorium, the Library, the Guest House, the Piramal Gallery, the (former Rangoli ) resturant / cafe invariably drew us like magnet. At NCPA, legendary dancers, musicians and actors gave memorable performances. The archive, systematically built up over the years, is a treasure trove. And the present management under the leadership and guidance of the Chairman, Khushroo N Santook is proud to carry on the legacy enriching the life of the nation. 

Read the review in the site

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Book Review - Master of Arts: A Life in Dance - Bhavanvitha Venkat

The world of Bharatanatyam has been a preserve of women. There is a welcome change in the scenario as we start seeing the emergence of the male dancer. It is a known fact that the stage for classical dancers is itself limited and not much material is available in the public domain to understand classical dancers.

Just when classical dance enthusiasts are looking forward to learn more about male dancers, Tulsi Badrinath writes about them in her aptly titled ‘Master of Arts: A Life in Dance’ (Hachette India publication). The attractive cover has Guru VP Dhananjayan looking into the mirror at his own younger picture (in the form of his son CP Satyajit). It comes as no surprise that the work should be coming from a classical dancer as others may find the context, content and the very background unfamiliar. Who else would understand the “perilous journey” of a male dancer, and his “worries over decisions” and, notions like “the male dancer in the traditional margam is like an illegal immigrant.”

Read the review in the site

Friday, 25 October 2013

Interview - Priya Murle: Perspective in performance - Nanditha Ashok

In both performance as well as conversation, Bharatanatyam dancer Priya Murle depicts dance as an art beyond the body and uses her talents to establish a connection with her audience; exactly what the Natya Shastra calls for in the act of creating pure rasa.  As she gears up for the upcoming season, Priya Murle talks about her perspective on abhinaya and approach to choreography.
What are some projects you are currently involved in?
Currently, in addition to my solo choreography, I am working on a few projects for the season.  First is Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy’s new production called ‘Tripaada’ where I am playing Mahabali in the retelling of Vamana Avataram story.  Also, I am working with my group Parasaha which includes Roja Kannan, N. Srikanth and Aswathy Srikanth.  We are doing a large-scale production on motherhood, in addition to other small programs.  

Read the interview in the site

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A slice of Music Academy of Madras at Kennedy Centre, DC - Dr. Sunil Kothari

For three days from September 20 till 22, the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC turned into the   Music Academy of Madras for the lovers of classical Indian dance and music. Never-say-die aficionado Dr. Sreedhar Potarazu’s Vital Spring Health Care has been collaborating with The Music Academy for the past seven years for the annual Dance Festival. He had a dream of mounting Utsav, a celebration of India’s maestros of music and dance with artistes selected by the Music Academy. His dream came true when the Academy finalized the various details.
Speaking during the inaugural function, the President of the Academy, N. Murali said, “The 80 year old institution has been a landmark in the history of classical Carnatic music and dance. In December ‘Season,’ the city holds more than 2000 concerts in 25 days. Nowhere in the world are such concerts held like this in a time frame. The Academy has played an important role. For the past seven years in collaboration with Dr. Sreedhar Potarazu, the Academy has started an annual festival of classical dance. Today in America, both classical Carnatic music and dance have taken firm roots.  Not only the Indian immigrants settled here but also the second generation and the Americans have shown great appreciation for these arts. Therefore, it was decided to organize Utsav in collaboration with Sivam Inc., a local organization headed by Dr. Sreedhar Potarazu, in Washington DC at a venue like the Kennedy Centre featuring brilliant musicians and dancers from India. The resident Indians and Americans shall have a taste of the atmosphere of ‘the season’ with this initiative.” 

Read the review in the site

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Article - Nritya Uphaar: The gift of dance - Nandini Krishna

Was it possible to experience classical dance in one’s lifetime? This lament echoed around me repeatedly in the mid 90’s, often by my dance students’ parents and then others in their thirties or more. They felt doomed that perhaps this unfulfilled dream would have to be taken into another lifetime as they had crossed the requisite age bracket. It rankled me no end - this thought of carrying something over for another lifetime. It seemed like the beautiful art of classical dancing and Bharatanatyam was like a far away world or planet that was inaccessible to them. One began to feel then, was it not possible to build a bridge somehow, or create a chink space in the door for this ‘marginalized section’? They did not ask be to be donned in glorious costumes, they did not ask for a performance platform, they did not seek applause, they only wanted to ‘experience’ moving in the classical dance way!
‘Nritya Uphaar - The Gift of Dance’ was thus born as a via media, a workshop first tried out in 1999. 

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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

2nd edition of Samarpana: The Asian Festival of Classical Dance - Dr. Sunil Kothari

During the 2nd edition of Samarpana, the Asian Festival of Classical Dance, produced by Sruti Laya school of Bharatanatyam in Singapore under the guidance of its director Gayatri Sriram, one at once notices that it is an international arts platform where, as claimed by the organizers ‘sensibilities, sense and the sublime come alive.’  The presentation was not limited to classical Bharatanatyam dance form only. Sruti Laya and event organizer  Jyoti Ramesh of Jade Group  along with the sponsors BSI, Orbis, Passion Card, Mudrika Foundation for Indian Performing Arts, Bengaluru, media partner Tabla, the Tagore Society of Singapore, and several well wishers, have a large canvas of performing arts.
The  scope of the three-day festival included celebrated Indian classical Dhrupad singers Gundecha Brothers in collaboration with Kumudini Lakhia, internationally renowned  Kathak exponent, guru and choreographer with her dance company Kadamb from Ahmedabad, collaboration of Flamenco Sin Fronteras with guest artist Miguel Angel Espino and JSLN Company, three segments of Bharatanatyam, Contemporary (Zaini Tahir and NUS Dance,  French ballet academy L’Academie du Danse, Singapore and a special lecture by V Sriram, the noted musicologist and cultural historian from India on ‘The Devadasis of George Town’ and a panel discussion on ‘Dilution of classical arts’ by experts from various fields. The sumptuous fare was offered on a silver platter from 27th till 29th September 2013 at the Drama Centre Theatre, National Library Building, Singapore.

Read the review in the site

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Article - When man tried to be god - Madhuri Upadhya

They say you have to choreograph something close to life, more importantly close to your own life! As choreographers, we can weave fantasy around the story, romanticize, be brutally literal, abstract or whimsical. I chose to look at characters from our mythology to tell my story… My story of losing, my story of crying, my story of helplessness, my story of getting up and trying again and my story of not belonging anywhere. Well, how am I in this situation…. answer… life. The more you live it, more seasons it gives you!

So I decided to express it through a dance piece. My dance mate Vishwa, who danced this piece, and I started our quest of finding the Trishanku in us. 

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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Dance History Column - Tara Chaudhri - Pavlova of the Punjab! - Ashish Mohan Khokar

That Tara Chaudhri, popularly dubbed the Pavlova of the Punjab, died on Sept 22, 2013, unsung in India, is not surprising. No obit, no news, no mention. So it is left to me, yours truly, to reconstruct her life and times. I’m additionally in a very privileged position because our families also knew each other personally. A direct source of that period is my mother, Bharatanatyam guru M.K. Saroja, who knew Tara personally, stayed with her in Lahore in undivided India and had common links due to Guru Muthukumaran Pillai, whom Ram took to Lahore to teach Bharatanatyam. Many moons later, Tara came home to us in Delhi in mid 70s when Ram was visiting us and even having left active dance for years, she looked like a royal star. Once a dancer, always a dancer.  

Read the article in the site

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Seen & Heard - Hastha Mudra - Lakshmi Vishwanathan

Our training in Bharatanatyam almost takes the hand gestures for granted. Nattuvanars never conducted sessions in theory related to practice. If I am not mistaken it was Kalakshetra which taught the Abhinaya Darpana based lessons...." Patakam, Tripatakam, Ardhapatakam...." chanted in unison as one did the appropriate gestures. Now all dance schools have these lessons, I think.

But what is the use of these lessons if the dancer can hardly show one clear HASTHA MUDRA properly on the stage? While the Nrtta Hasthas are as strong as the Nrtta taught by a teacher, they at least are correct most of the time.  It is the Abhinaya hasthas that are sadly lacking in life. The prayoga or usage is known to dancers. But what they lack is clarity in the way the hasthas are held by hand and fingers. For example, many do not train the fingers properly to bend them, or to stretch them. 

Read the article in the site

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Article - Regained confidence - Pia Bunglowala

(Braving a post injury phase, Pia reminisces on working on Mayuri Upadhya’s solo choreography.)

I performed a solo piece as part of Nritarutya choreographed by Mayuri Upadhya at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mumbai, on the 16th of September for an intimate audience. The dance was based on the theme of the ingredients that go into making a perfume and I was the one who was playing with nature and controlling it and pulling out all the flavour from around me to blend it into the perfect fragrance.

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Sunday, 22 September 2013

Article - The journey of dance - Padmavani Mosalikanti

Indian dance or natya as we all know was born with a purpose and has been growing as a beautiful tree with its roots in the divine earth.  This tree has spread across the horizons with its innumerable branches (shakhas), each branch representing a style of dance. One can think of the tree being in its prime when its flowers are in full bloom and spreading its fragrance worldwide. But as we enjoy the fragrance, we should not forget the purpose with which its seeds were sown on earth. Dance was born not only as a mere entertainment, but also for ‘loka kalyanam’ or social welfare. Is our dance fulfilling its objective today? Or would it ever fulfill? What is its state today in our society? Are we as dancers doing justice to the art we have learnt putting in so many years of hard work? With all these questions revolving in my mind for a long time, a very fruitful talk with a singer triggered me to pen down my thoughts into words.

Read the article in the site

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Varsha Utsav - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Visiting Bangalore soon after centenary celebrations of Mohanrao  Kallianpurkar to attend Varsha Utsav organized by Adhyasha Odissi Dance Ensemble run by Odissi exponent Sarita Mishra, it was indeed a pleasure to meet another devotee of Odissi based in Bangalore, performing, teaching and organizing programs enlisting support from Bangalore based local senior and contemporary dancers. I had not met her or known her earlier, but seeing her work, dedication, enthusiasm and high standard of her own dance, I was duly impressed. Sarita Mishra hails from Bhubaneswar. Her husband Uttam Rath is a military officer. Though he has to move from city to city, his stay in Bangalore offered Sarita scope to start an institution to teach Odissi to young dancers and also elder women interested in dance. Within two years she succeeded in gathering around her few talented dancers, including those who have had training in Bharatanatyam and worked assiduously to build up an enjoyable repertoire.

She succeeded in inviting the luminaries from Bhubaneswar, the leading lights of present day Odissi, both musicians and exponents.  Odissi exponent Guru Bichitrananda Swain, mardala exponent Guru Dhaneswar Swain, Odissi vocalist, musician, composer Guru Ram Hari Das, Odissi exponent Sujata Mohapatra and also Chittaranjan Mallia, secretary of Odissi Sangeet Natak Akademi, an authority on Gotipua dance tradition and a scholar, participated in the two day festival, displaying their art and gave an enchanting glimpse into Odissi dance and music. Sarita’s own repertoire, her choreography of few numbers, and her solo showcased the sound training she has received and also her attempts to choreograph a variety of numbers.

Read the review in the site

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Article - Fashion meets dance at Delhi Couture Week - Ashwin Kumar

And then fashion came calling! Again! We performed for designer Anju Modi’s collection presented at Delhi Couture Week. The collection labelled ‘Draupadi’ was all about the warrior princess look. Working on the theme for her collection we depicted three scenes from Mahabharata – SWAYAMVAR, GAME OF DICE and CHEERHARAN. The stories were well known but never explored by us in the Indian Contemporary Dance context.

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Saturday, 7 September 2013

Seen & Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan - Striking a pose

In Bharatanatyam performances, audiences are treated to "poses" by dancers.  When I was a young girl learning dance, I used to attend performances of senior dancers every now and then and I noticed that some gurus had taught their students to give statuesque poses, while others eschewed them completely. For example, Guru Vazhuvur Ramaiah Pillai's students struck the Nataraja and other poses at frequent intervals in their shows, whilst the students of Pandanallur Chokkalingam Pillai were more reticent with poses.  I noticed also that Balasaraswathi never lifted her leg in the Nataraja pose. I assumed then that perhaps it was because of her age (then in her forties) or perhaps she was heavier in build as compared to many others whom I saw in performance. Later, I read Dr. Raghavan, her mentor. He was very disapproving of unnecessary poses and thought they were aberrations! He used phrases like "rasabhasa" meaning contrariness to Rasa, which said it all. I loved that brevity of expression.

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Health column - Strengthen your knee - Masoom Parmar

1. Stretch your IT Band

2. Strengthen your Quadriceps, Hamstrings and Gluteus

3. Yoga, swimming, brisk walking and cycling also help strengthen your knee

4. Change your eating habits

Read the health tips in the site

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Tribute - Past Forward with Guruji and Amma - Mamata Niyogi Nakra

There are moments in one’s life when destiny smiles in the face of adversity. One such moment came in my life when I had an accident in1969, which left me with a permanent injury and brutally cut me off from performing Bharata Natya. Some of my well-wishers helped me to overcome the initial shock and despair by encouraging, to the point of coaxing and goading me, to teaching Bharata Natya in Montreal. “What a formidable task to undertake,” I thought at the time; but, as if by divine intervention, my gurus U.S. Krishna Rao and U.K. Chandrabhaga Devi (Guruji and Amma to me) appeared on the horizon just when I needed them most, to provide guidance and inspiration and above all, to help regenerate my passion for dance. 

The Rao couple was on a visit to North America in the spring of 1980 and accepted an invitation from me to come to Montreal. They gave a scintillating lecture demonstration on Bharata Natya, organized by the India Canada Association of Montreal, to a packed auditorium of over 500 captivated listeners. On that occasion, not only did they enlighten the Montrealers present on the intricacies and aesthetics of Bharata Natya, but also endorsed, with warmth and generosity of spirit, my humble efforts to start a dance school by agreeing to return to Montreal for an extended stay. It was a wonderful way to re-establish our contact and renew our ties which dated back to the late fifties when I had gone to Bangalore for advanced training in Bharata Natya after having earlier studied the art in Patna from one of their disciples, Guru Balakrishnan.

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Obit/Tribute - Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi (Aug 10, 1934 - Aug 25, 2013) - Compiled by Lalitha Venkat

Classical vocalist, composer and Odissi musicologist Pt Raghunath Panigrahi passed away in Bhubaneswar on Aug 25, 2013. He was born on 10 August 1934 in Gunpur of Koraput District in Orissa. Pt Raghunath Panigrahi learnt from his father Nilamani Panigrahi, the classical way of singing Gita Govinda as preserved in the temple of Jagannatha in Puri and is known for his lifetime contribution towards promoting, propagating and popularizing the life and works of Jayadeva in the Orissa style. 

Read the tributes

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Nrityagram comes to Bangalore - Dr Sunil Kothari

On 18th August, on the occasion of the 15th death anniversary of Protima Bedi, Nrityagram decided to celebrate her memories by showcasing the trainees from tiny tots to those in range of 15 years and above and the finale with three major leading dancers Surupa Sen, Bijayini Satpathy and Pavithra Reddy. “It was Gaurima’s (Protima) wish that if she is no more, her departure must not be of mourning, but laughter, fun, joy, celebration,” said Surupa Sen, the senior most dancer at Nrityagram in charge of training along with Bijayini Satpathy (they have been at Nrityagram for the  past 25 and 20 years respectively), including Pavithra  Reddy. This year on Protima’s death anniversary, it was decided to invite a few friends and well wishers of Protima and Nrityagram, to hold an ‘annual day’ at Seva Sadan in Bangalore.  

Read the review in the site

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Centenary celebrations of Kathak guru Mohanrao Kallianpurkar (1913-2013) - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Kathak dancer Shama Bhate, director of Nad Roop institution, Pune, in collaboration with Maharashtra Cultural Centre held on 12th and 13th August, three sessions per day on the life and times of the celebrated Kathak guru and exponent Mohanrao Kallianpurkar at Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagriha from 9.30am till 9pm, with speakers reminiscing about Mohanrao’s  career and contribution.

Read the review in the site

Monday, 19 August 2013

Roses & Thorns - Foot in Mouth Odours! - Dr.Anita Ratnam

‘Master of Arts: A life in dance’ by author Tulsi Badrinath was released in Delhi on April 24, 2013. In chapter 19 on page 99, Bharatanatyam dancer Charles Ma of Bangalore has commented that “In Bangalore, there are no good gurus. Everything is in bits and pieces in Bangalore.” 
This caused varied reactions in Bangalore and outraged dance teachers and dancers. Arts consultant Usha RK penned her thoughts in her blog on August 14, 2013.
Charles Ma discontinued his Facebook account, and then issued a public apology on Facebook via Usha RK on August 15, 2013 that is reproduced.

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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Article - Athai and I - Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant

I am a Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer, a recipient of a tradition of centuries, a recipient not just of the dance form but of its attendant psychological, social, philosophical, sociological, metaphysical and esoteric constructs. Such constructs can loosely be called tradition. Along with other artistes, I am given the responsibility by virtue of my years of learning, to learn, imbibe and carry forward a tradition of a particular style of performing art. We artistes thereby become dynamic links between centuries, between eras, and between ideas. This onerous responsibility sits heavily upon the shoulders of each and every serious artiste. I am part of that flowing river called tradition, a perennial river, meandering, striking new courses, accepting new temples and new pilgrims, supporting old rituals on its path to the sea.

My passion for dance began early in life – a chance meeting at the Subramanyam temple in Secunderabad when I was 4 years old – a comment that “this child’s eyes are large, you must teach her dance” saw my mother Subhashini Shankar (herself a musician and violinist) enroll me with guru Sharada Keshava Rao. My initial years also saw me training with guru KN Pakkiriswamy Pillai (brother of guru KN Dandayuthapani Pillai) who then taught in Hyderabad.

My dance training continued in Hyderabad until the summer of 1973, when a mother and her very young daughter, wended their way nervously into the courtyard of a building in Chennai. They waited outside the office, after having sent in a message, eagerly waiting to be called in. But they were not summoned inside. Instead, the very person they wanted to see came out to greet them. The lady was none other than Rukmini Devi Arundale, the Director of Kalakshetra (Athai). The young girl was me, and with me was my mother. After the traditional namaskaram (bowing low) I remember asking her to bless me to be like her someday. “No, no, I bless you to be greater than me,” said the beautiful lady, swathed in a maroon silk saree, with her freshly washed hair falling down on her shoulders.

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Thursday, 8 August 2013

Article - Beginning of the End - Mayuri Upadhya

Choreographers are people of such imagination and vision. Each creator’s drive, concerns vary from each other and from time to time. Inspired by personal, creative, intuitive, technical input each composition takes shape. I for one aspire to reach a realm where I can create and watch my own ‘unforgettable extraordinary theatrical experience.’ And this target set the backdrop for my next - a surreal masked entity. When you start a new piece of creation, you address several questions looking for fitting answers. In the end, I’m not sure if the questions are answered but it definitely leaves you with the next set of questions to respond.

The piece had larger than life Kathakali inspired fluorescent masks to adorn and dance with. So, the dancers had to absorb two processes: with and without the mask. 

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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Speaking of Shiva - Lakshmi Vishwanathan

There is a lot to speak of Shiva.  Indian dance, Bharatanatyam in particular, is so completely intertwined with Shiva and his monumental mythology.  I have been watching Sivam, the Tamil version of the Hindi serial Devon ke Dev Mahadev. A marvel of the myriad Shiva myths, it has been produced with devotion indeed! And then... I wonder... Are dancers watching this? I hope they are.  However, I have some reservations about them seeing this serial. Why, the reader might ask. The answer is simple. I am wary of young dancers who are clever and eager to do many new things, assimilating all ideas and pouring it all out in their dance rather indiscriminately as a dramatic narrative. 

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Monday, 29 July 2013

Book Review - 15th anniversary edition of Attendance: A bouquet from dancers and rasikas - Ayswaria Wariar

The dance annual Attendance edited and published by Bangalore based Ashish Khokar, has earned quite a reputation with its themes and aesthetic sense. Its special issue on Classical Dance and Modern Times, guest-edited by Dr. SD Desai, recently launched in Delhi, deserves notice for two reasons – celebrated dancers of the country belonging to our internationally known dance forms share their thoughts on how they attempt to reach out to as many people as possible and in the process without compromising on the traditional aspects of the forms they represent.

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Saturday, 27 July 2013

Raindrops Festival of Classical Dance - Dr. Sunil Kothari

The 23rd edition of the Raindrops Festival of classical dance on July 20 organized by the celebrated Kathak exponent Uma Dogra under the aegis of Sam Ved Society for Performing Arts in association with SAB Miller India held at Mini Ravindra Natya Mandir aka P.L Deshpande Theatre, next to Siddhivinayak Temple, Prabhadevi, Mumbai was a runaway success in spite of the torrential July rains. No wonder Uma has given this festival the name Raindrops, justifying the heralding of dance and music festivals in Mumbai with the onset of monsoon. The rains did not stop Mumbaikars and dance lovers from making their way to the mini theatre which was packed. It was indeed very heartening to see the excitement and the crowds for the dance festival. Uma’s daughter Suhani, a writer in her own right and currently on the staff of India Today, politely requested the disciples of Uma and Sam Ved Society to give seats to the senior citizens and invitees. 

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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Roses & Thorns - The race for Facebook "Likes" is on! - Ahalya Narendran

In addition to the standard list of status symbols that those obsessed with their social status today buy with money, such as newspaper reviews, TV appearances, dance awards and titles, and real estate on the Moon, there is a brand new item: Facebook likes. It seems, it is not just the US State Department who buy ‘Likes’ on Facebook , but some Bharatanatyam schools have gone on the likes buying spree as well. Just a couple of months ago, the page of a very young Bharatanatyam school had steadily grown over the years to list over 2000 likes, while the number of people who "liked" the page of the large Bharatanatyam school where she studied since the school was 10% of its present strength was nearly 8 times less and hardly growing. Apparently, the school's PR managers were unwilling to realise that not everybody out of the 300+ students in their school is a born dancer. Extraordinary talent and skill cannot be mass produced at dance factories. 

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Monday, 15 July 2013

Poetry in Dance - Lakshmi Vishwanathan

Most of our dance repertoire is poetry in song. We seldom get to read them just for their poetic beauty .We read them only when we are researching new texts for dance. Language skills are needed for this exercise. Poems when set to suitable tunes should inspire lyrical dance.

When I first encountered some lovely poems from ancient Tamil translated into poetic English I was excited enough to make Girish Karnad read some as I danced to the melodies of a sitar under a starlit sky in the Cholamandal artists village near Chennai. This was way back in 1976 and the book of translations was the famous Interior Landscape by A.K. Ramanujan. The last time I met him was in Hyderabad airport. A genial and unassuming man he told me, “I am coming out with something of particular interest to you. That book is When God is Customer.” I found his translations of many of my padams delightful and used them often to introduce my dance. Instead of the usual introductions, I just read out the poems and needless to say it was more than effective. Bhagirati, a theatre person and friend read some of them when I premiered an entire evening of padams titled HRDAYA VILAPAM. I think we enjoyed the evening as much as the audience.

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Article - Questioning Contemporaneity - Veejay Sai

No other state has as many cultural festivals like Odisha does.  Music, dance, theatre, folklore, tribal, ritual and what have you! Other states in India should surely take a lesson or two in being more inclusive about art and culture when their budgets are made.
Contemporary dance has been grappling with its ‘Indianness’ over the last few decades. Having become an undeniable part of the performing arts world, it is comparable to the English language that has become an integral part of our day to day transactions. Whizzes have termed it everything from ‘Modern’, ‘Neo-classical’, ‘Progressive’ and whatever else. The fact remains, as a creative alternative medium of expression, Indian dance has found its contemporaneity through its individual practitioners, often not backed by any institutional endorsements. “Contemporary dance by Indian dancers is secure in a comfort zone of its own,” said Uttara Asha Coorlawala, a veteran in the field, at the brief lecture she delivered at Samakala.  Into its second year, the festival organized by the Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi has already grown into full strength. This year, some of the biggest names from the world of Indian contemporary dance presented their performances in Bhubaneswar. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Interview - Sanjay Shantaram: To learn an art form is not a cake walk - Lalitha Venkat

Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer / teacher Sanjay Shantaram, the director of Shivapriya School of Dance in Bangalore, is all set to celebrate 25 years of his dance school from June 25 – 27, 2013. He started to learn Bharatanatyam from age 7 under GS Rajalakshmi and later from guru Narmada. He learnt Kuchipudi from Sunanda Devi and Veena Murthy Vijay. A dentist, he has also acted in more than 60 films as a child artiste and about 20 popular soaps in Kannada and Telugu. Sanjay has to his credit, several charity programs given to bring cheer to the lesser privileged and old people. He shares his thoughts with on reaching this important milestone in his career.
How has your dance journey been in the course of these 25 years as a teacher? Did you ever think that it would last this long?
This journey of dance has been truly enriching, exciting and humbling. It has elevated me spiritually and made me realise nothing is impossible in this world if we try hard. As a teacher, I learnt to correct so many of my mistakes by correcting the students that in turn has shaped me into a more serious and responsible dancer and teacher. I have been made to realize that I need to be constantly fit and an ideal role model to kids who look up to me and that has helped me work towards my practice and wellbeing. Yes, financial stability and name are bonuses. I never planned when I started so I never gave attention to how long this would go. But this is what I always wanted to do after my dental course and have never regretted ever since.

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

2nd edition of Samakala Festival - Dr Sunil Kothari

On 11th June 2013 the second edition of Samakala Festival was flagged off at Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar, under the aegis of Odisha Tourism, and Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi, Department of Culture, Govt. of Odisha. After receiving enthusiastic response from diverse audience last year, this year the organizers planned the festival inviting the leading lights of contemporary dance for three evenings, presenting two artistes each evening.

The very fact that the organizers and in particular, the initiative taken by the Principal Secretary,  Odisha Tourism, Mr. A.K. Tripathy, the dance, music and folk dance festivals including regional music of Western Odisha, Sankirtan Festival, Chhau dances, Gotipua dancers and the classical dance festivals, International Odissi Dance Festival,  Sand festival etc., Odisha  has become within a span of three years ‘a land of festivals.’ Odisha has won excellent awards for Tourism, and the dance festivals have indeed drawn tourists not only from abroad but also from within India. Not only that, a series of publications on arts of Odisha, with excellent photographs, eye catching lay-out, minute details to the printing, graphics and production have been brought out and have become collector’s items. The passion behind all these speaks volumes for Mr. A.K. Tripathy.

It is indeed very heartening to see that Contemporary dance has found a place in this series of festivals. Since East West Dance Encounter, which took place in January 1984 in Mumbai under the vision, guidance and sponsorship of Georg Lechner, the director of Max Mueller Bhavan, along with the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) and various other cultural agencies, within a span of thirty years Contemporary dance as a specific genre has come into its own. It would be also pertinent to mention that The Other Festival started by Anita Ratnam along with Ranvir Shah in Chennai also played a historical role, promoting Contemporary dance. 

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Friday, 14 June 2013

Seen & Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan - Vimarshana

The Sanskrit word Vimarshana can be loosely translated to mean "review." In ancient India, formal performances were evaluated on the spot by experts, both in royal courts and other venues.  Even the great Vaggeyakara Kshetragna was challenged in the Nayak court! Good work was lauded and rewarded instantly. Some say bad work attracted punishment!

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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Ashta Darshana: A confluence of music and dance - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Sudha rendered Arunachala Kavirayar’s composition “Yaro Ivar Yaro” in Bhairavi dwelling upon Rama’s first glimpse of Sita in Mithila. The varying moods revolved round sringara.

From the Gita Govinda, the ashtapadi “Sakhi he keshi mathanamudaram” enacted by Geeta to depict sringara succeeded in terms of expressing Radha’s bashfulness and Krishna’s bold cajoling and saying sweet nothings to Radha, untying her garments for union - it had the intensity and dignity, highlighting the lyrics sung melodiously by Sudha. Turning her back to the audience, as Radha, Geeta suggestively displayed the lajja, bashfulness of Radha and turning in front sitting in a majestic stance as Krishna embracing her, she created exquisite images of  Radha and Krishna in love play.

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Friday, 31 May 2013

Seen & Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan - Renaissance Man

E. Krishna Iyer is the one dominant name you hear whenever Bharatanatyam is discussed from a historical perspective.  I had no idea about his importance when he presided over my Arangetram held at the Mylapore Rasika Ranjani Sabha in 1951. We used to meet Krishna Iyer often in Mylapore, the hub of cultural events in Chennai. My family too belonged to Mylapore who's who, except that we lived in Sullivan Street in Santhome in an Art Deco bungalow surrounded by a jasmine garden.
Krishna Iyer, an advocate by profession, took to dance in his teens!  Many in Thanjavur district had been exposed to Bharatam as Bharatanatyam was known because of it being part of the sacred enactment of Bhagavatamela natakams in villages like Melattur, Soolamangalam and Saliymangalam. Amateur theatre of this type attracted many young men in the early twentieth century as Bhagavatamela was performed by an all male cast. The young lads with pleasant features learnt dance from Nattuvanars to play the female parts. Krishna Iyer was born in Kalladaikuruchi, but was influenced by the strong Thanjavur culture.  He learnt to dance and as a young man he performed, dressed in the typical female costume.

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1st International Convention of SPIC MACAY (20th-26th May 2013) - Dr Sunil Kothari

Naad Yoga, the yoga of sound.
Early around 4am, we assemble for Naad Yoga, recite the swara along with the note on tanpura, hold breath, release breath, sit for an hour and with the first ray of the sun, the yoga concludes, giving you an experience of calm and peace. Dhrupad rudra veena player Ustad Bahauddin Dagar conducts it, Dr. Kiran Seth joins, we sit cross- legged and realize what a wonderful way it makes one aware of the power of sound and yoga.

The other unusual sessions were conducted by Professor P.L.Dhar, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Delhi, who has been striving to spread the knowledge of continual practice of self-awareness to sila, samadhi and pannya, as taught by Gautam Buddha. He conducted an intensive on ‘Mindfulness’ making students sensitive to the higher dimensions of human existence.

Fascinating were yoga sessions. Swami Tyagaraj and Swami Yogapratap from the Bihar School of yoga conducted intensive yoga sessions. A large number of participating students displayed praiseworthy enthusiasm. To watch students making a beeline for it was extremely heartening.

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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Obit / Tribute - Mridangam vidwan G Ekambaram - Nandini Ramani

With the passing away of the veteran dance mridangam vidwan Kanchipuram G. Ekambaram on May 23, 2013 at Kanchipuram, an era of great stalwarts of the Kanchipuram laya lineage has come to an end. The 80 year old exponent Kanchipuram Govindasamy Ekambaram was the son and disciple of Kanchipuram Govindasamy who played mridangam accompaniment to the legendary T. Balasaraswati in her arangetram held at Kanchipuram Amanakshi Amman Temple. The close association and loyalty of the Kanchipuram mridangam artistes to Bala’s tradition is very long and unique. This binding link between the two was established from the times of the illustrious Kandappa, guru of Bala. Kanchipuram Kuppuswamy Mudaliar, who accompanied Bala all through her artistic career, was Ekambaram’s paternal uncle. Kandappa’s familial links with his student Kanchipuram Ellappa who was also a member of Bala’s orchestra for some time, completed the Kanchipuram association of Bala.

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Festival of Varnams - Dr Sunil Kothari

After the successful presentation of Margam/Varnams at Andhra Sabha Auditorium in New Delhi a few months ago, Usha RK, a cultural activist, organizer and firm believer in traditional Bharatanatyam Margam repertoire, in association with India International Centre (IIC) and Kalasindhu, a Bangalore based institution run by Poornima Gururaja, presented a two day festival of Margam / Varnams on 9th and 10th May 2013 at India International Centre’s auditorium. On each evening two sets of artistes performed.
Opening the festival, Usha RK explained the purpose of this festival:”With a view to keep the traditional format of Bharatanatyam alive with its most important item, the Varnams. The format has seen various changes over the years, the duration reduced due to lack of time. The format has seen a huge amount of polishing and sophistication in its presentation. The Varnam has also been compromised on in some ways. To revive the traditional compositions of Varnams, this festival was conceptualized. From Bangalore, we have come with a hope to showcase not only the senior, accomplished dancers, but also to present upcoming dancers who need a platform to display their sadhana and expertise, seeking their place in the sun.”

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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Mahagami Gurukul at Aurangabad - Dr. Sunil Kothari

It was a sheer pleasure to visit Mahagami Gurukul at Aurangabad for four days beginning with the celebrations of the World Dance Day from 27th April. For the past five to six years, I was invited to Bangalore and other places for the World Dance Day celebrations. It is always very educative to visit other places in India to see the horizontal growth of classical dance, and dream places like Protima Bedi’s Nrityagram at Bangalore, Ratan Thiyam’s Chorus Repertory Theatre at Imphal, Veenapani Chawla’s Adishakti institution at Puducherry, Chandralekha’s Spaces at Chennai to name a few, make one aware of the work done quietly in other parts of India.
It was during International Kathak festival at Chicago organized by Dr. Sinha few years ago that I happened to note Parwati Dutta and her Kathak performance. Her interest in pakhavaj and dhrupad drew my attention. That she was equally at home with Odissi and playing mardala, I did not know. She recalls that during our visit to Avignon Festival in South France, she had asked me few questions regarding ‘parna riti’ mentioned in my book on Kathak. That someone so young had carefully and diligently read my book had indeed impressed me a lot. She received training in Kathak under Birju Maharaj at Kathak Kendra and Odissi under Madhavi Mudgal and Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. She performed quite extensively as a solo dancer and when Odiya poet and scholar Jiwan Pani was director of Kathak Kendra, she used to ask several questions about shastra, as her interest in researches was deep. She hailed from Bhopal and hence had exposure to great Dhrupad masters, Kathak of Raigarh durbar and cultural activities that took place in Bhopal. Moving to Delhi, the training and also witnessing dance performances, attending seminars and developing a holistic approach to art, helped her grow into an inquiring dancer, not content with only performances.

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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Interview - Dulam Satyanarayana on his documentary ‘I am Satyabhama’ - Sudha Sridhar

Dulam Satyanarayana, an award winning documentary film maker has recently made a documentary on Kuchipudi classical dance form and one of the greatest exponent of our times, Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma, titled ‘I am Satyabhama.’ Dulam, who had per se not much exposure to art, had destiny weave its course. He shares with us as to how he came to do this documentary and the indelible impressions it has created.

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Sunday, 5 May 2013

Health Column - Preventing knee injury - Veena Basavarajaiah

(This article was orignially posted on November 17, 2011)

Most Bharatanatyam dancers at some point in their professional careers have experienced knee injuries. While some injuries like sprains have lasted for a few days, ligament tears have resulted in the end of many dancing careers. Is it the form itself or the mode of practice that makes the knee most susceptible to damage and causes excruciating physical pain and emotional trauma?

The technique of Bharatanatyam requires the dancer to stay in demi plié / araimandi for long periods of time. While dancing in this posture, the lower back, gluteus, thighs and feet are at constant work. Extensive foot work, the full plié / muzhumandis and lunges exert additional pressure on the knees. The ‘araimandi,’ an essential aesthetic of the form is not natural to the body. It takes years of training and building strength to attain a good 'araimandi' and many people with short Achilles tendon will not be able to achieve a deep plié because of their body structure itself. Teachers must be aware of the limitations of each individual’s body and not push every student to dance in a deep demi plié.
Read the article in the site 

Comments posted upto May 5, 2013

The knee has one degree of freedom - but unless the musculature is perfectly strong, the knee twists, and leads to injuries. Having enough strength to move the knee in the right direction is not the same as having the strength to keep it from twisting wrongly.

The back and knee are two things that are compromised for 95% of people including athletes and dancers and even so called martial artists.

Tendon strength and flexibility training is often ignored, since it takes long and shows no visible results.

To be in any physical art and survive intact, one needs to study various disciplines including anatomy.
This is one of the areas where more studies are needed by persons who possess the knowledge of Bharathanatyam and a medicine degree. A full time dance college or an institution must include the human anatomy as basic subject to study these injuries. Have any conventions dealt with this subject ? Is there any person who can we reach regarding this issue ?·  
Monisha16 February 2012 13:35
Knee injuries also have psychological implications in recovery. The feeling of helplessness and despair is one I'm sure many dancers have experienced. It's important to be positive and patient. No two rehabilitation stories can be the same. An online community for injured bharatanatyam dancers would be helpful I'm sure.

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Friday, 3 May 2013

Book Review - ‘Mohiniattam- The Lyrical Dance’ by Dr. Kanak Rele - Vijay Shankar

Renowned Mohiniattam dancer and dance educationist Dr. Kanak Rele has now released the second edition of her book ‘Mohiniattam -The Lyrical Dance’ after the first was released in 1992. This book covers the ‘marga’ tradition set by the Natya Shastra and the subsequent texts as applicable to the contemporary classical or ‘desi’ dance styles in general and Mohiniattam in particular. This book is the first ‘shastra’ based book on Mohiniattam which also brings to the fore its exquisitely lyrical qualities both physical as well as psychological.

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Saturday, 27 April 2013

Utsav’s Unbound Beats of India - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Ranjana Gauhar’s Utsav Educational and Cultural Society activities have included several welcome facets for the past twenty six years. Besides education, preservation, promotion and popularizing classical, traditional dances, in particular Odissi dance and music, Ranjana has endeavoured to offer a platform to young and promising exponents of classical dance to encourage them and bring their talent to the notice of wider community of rasikas. Besides the present festival under review, Ranjana has been presenting Sare Jahan Se Achha festival on 15th August highlighting in various dance forms, the glory of India. In Kalinga Utsav, she presents traditional Odiya dancers, including Gotipua dancers and also organizes seminar on Odissi dance and music.
On 17th April, the festival was inaugurated by Kumari Selja, Hon’ble Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India, at the Habitat Centre. Congratulating Ranjana for her laudable attempts to promote the young generation of dancers, the minister recalled her association with Ranjana for more than 20 years and expressed hope that these artistes would find their place in the sun.

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Friday, 26 April 2013

Interview - Prasanna Kasthuri: Keeping Indian art alive

Soorya Performing Arts under the leadership of Guru Prasanna Kasthuri hosted a three day dance festival in St. Louis in the third week of April 2013. All in all, 22 dance performances, 9 ethnic dance styles, more than 150 artistes who had flown in from India, France, United Kingdom and cities from all over the USA were the hallmarks of this dazzling event. Prasanna Kasthuri, Artistic Director of Soorya Performing Arts and chief convener of the 5th St. Louis Indian Dance Festival, shares his thoughts on organizing such mega festivals.  

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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Article - Advaita and Science - Padmaja Suresh

Adi Shankaracharya is the Father of Particle Physics, says Prof. V Suryanarayana Rao, Chairman of Foundation of Vedic Sciences. Shankara's diagram in SOUNDARYA LAHIRI of the PADMA (lotus) has been discovered as the source of God Particle by scientists with the recent accelerator experiment when the thousand-petalled lotus manifested while they brought proton in collision with another proton of the same particle. The Sri Chakra with its pinnacle, Mahameru, the tip of the iceberg, is the representation of the entire process of creation, sustenance to destruction with the triangles being the forces of Shiva (pure consciousness/spirit) and Shakti (energized consciousness/matter). There is ONE PARABRAHMAN (eternal, indescribable, attributeless, Nirguna) which is reflected as the world of MAYA (moving, filled with attributes, Saguna).  A cosmic creative vibration (called sphota or explosion) arises between Shiva and Shakti called Nada. This Nada then gets consolidated into Shabda Brahman (differentiated sound energy), the universal cosmic resonance, symbolized by Om. From this arises cosmic intelligence that is responsible for the creation.

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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Book Review - Noopuraagama- 1st Dance Research Journal of India - Vaishnavi

In the present scenario of art research field, bringing out a research journal is understood to be of absolute necessity. In this regard, there is neither any documentation nor internationally registered magazines with media and academic background, to publish the opinions of researchers, or publish their writings. Research papers presented on any special occasion or seminar, if not published in a journal, will not be of any value. For many years the art field has been facing the dearth for a research journal which can give a standard quality, and act as a guiding element for further healthy research. Realizing this lacuna, the Noopura Bhramari Dance Researchers’ Forum has come up with a dedicated endeavor of commitment towards search-research work which gives support and inspiration to the interested research group.  Hence, the Noopura Bhramari Dance Researchers’ Forum comprising of resource persons, experts in the field of education and media has brought out a Registered Annual research Journal with ISSN No. exclusively for researches. 

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Friday, 19 April 2013

Obit / Tribute - KP Bhaskar (1925 - April 17, 2013)

KP Bhaskar, a leading light in the Indian dance community of Singapore and former president of WDA Singapore chapter passed away in Singapore on the morning of April 17, 2013 due to heart related illness.

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Article - Balasaraswati (1918 - 1984) Sketch & text: Ashwini Kaarthikeyan

A few days ago, as a student of this classical dance form, I found myself aching for Balasaraswati's blessings. On the night of 13th of April, as I listened to a classical composition in praise of the Devi - Mother Goddess, my intense longing was transformed into a portrait in charcoal of Balasaraswati, on a 5' x 4' canvas. 

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