Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The dance history Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar - Of critics and editors

Pune University’s Lalit Kala Kendra made a commendable effort to bring together various voices in the dance field on the occasion of a two day (Aug 27/28) seminar on Micro & Macro in Dance Writing. With senior Bharatanatyam talent like Sucheta Chapekar’s guidance, Associate Professor Parimal Phadke undertook a meaningful seminar. Gurus, critics, editors and publishers, teachers, dancers and media honchos shared their thoughts. As one who has traversed all three roles in last thirty years (as critic of India's largest circulated English daily the Times of India and later, columnist India Today) and then editing Rasamanjari for 5 years and editing-publishing attendance, the dance annual for 15 years, my views come from practical experience. It may help budding dancers and journalists/critics, who wish to write on dance with integrity and meaning.

Parimal Phadke, Ashish Khokar, Sucheta Chapekar
Dancers first, since without them critics and dance editors and publishers wouldn’t exist! In all humility, writers of all shades, ought to accept this basic premise. Dancers learn an art form for many years, then strive harder to reach where they wish to be, professionally. But just because one learns dance it does not mean one becomes a dancer. Or a professional. It takes a minimum of 20 years of consistent work/output to become a known dancer of repute. Dance is a serious calling, beyond being a profession or vocation. It needs stamina, will power and total surrender, and above all, a real guru. There is a big difference between a guru and a teacher, but more on that in my next column.

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Seen & Heard by Lakshmi Viswanathan - Return of the Nataraja from Down Under

It is a coup of great significance.... the return of the Sripuranthan temple Nataraja and other sacred artifacts by Australia. The Modi government has achieved this without waiting for a prolonged legal battle. Even the fiery Melina Mercouri could not get the marble sculptures of the Greek Parthenon from the British Museum where they are displayed grandly as the ‘Elgin Marbles.’ Kudos to the Australian government.... They have understood national heritage diplomacy!

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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Constructive dance criticism - Dr. Sunil Kothari

(This paper was presented on Aug 27, 2014 at the ‘Dance Criticism - The macro and micro perspectives’ seminar hosted by Lalit Kala Kendra, Pune)

Before I speak on the topic I have selected, ‘Constructive dance criticism’, I would like to say in brief what it was like to write dance reviews some 20 years ago when many dance critics’ opinions were taken note of. Then all of a sudden the English newspapers stopped reviews on all the performing and plastic arts, except on films.  Only ‘The Hindu’ newspaper carried on Friday Review in most of the metropolitan centres where their edition is published.

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Friday, 12 September 2014

Interview - Post Padme Perspective Compiled by Lalitha Venkat

Belgian/Dutch choreographer Kalpana Raghuraman who is trained in Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance ideated Padme in Europe two years ago with Dutch dancers. Produced by Arangham Trust, Anita Ratnam invited Kalpana to choreograph the Padme project on Indian dancers, for which the music and choreography have been licensed from Korzo Productions in The Hague. An audition was held in which 7 dancers from Bangalore were chosen to perform in Padme. Over two sessions of training, Kalpana re-set and re-framed her original concept onto the bodies of these classically trained Bharatanatyam and Odissi dancers from Bangalore. The premiere of Padme was held on August 9, 2014 at NGMA in Bangalore and attended by a full hall.

Post Padme, the dancers share the experience of how it was to leave their classical styles and learn modern movement patterns. 

Read the interview in the site

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Tribute - Maya Rao: Memories of a great teacher - Prasanna Kasthuri

It was 1986. Roads of a quiet suburb Malleswaram in Bangalore now called Silicon city of India were far calmer than what they are today. I used to ride on my bicycle thrice a week to learn something new, but never had an opportunity until Guru Maya Rao’s second act of her life happened. It was Kathak. Kathak was very fascinating to me. I had seen probably one or two shows and many pictures of the Kathak dance style in Marg publications. It was a great boon for me and others such as Rathna Supriya, Nirmala Madhava, Nandini Mehta, Shubha Dhananjaya, Rajendra, Nirupama, Ashok, Charu, Suparna, Suma MP and Syed Salluddin Pasha – who were all in our twenties attending Kathak classes. We were all geared up to learn. There were some voices of discontent among leading Bharatanatyam gurus of Bangalore that someone is getting all attention from government, starting from chief minister of those days, Mr. Ramakrishna Hegde. But, all those who were interested in Guru Maya Rao, were very much curious to learn an untapped knowledge. 
Lots of us got in and got out of her dance school, but most of us felt it was a unique experience. The guru of our imagination was really manifest in Maya didi. She was very caring and passionate about dance. Her amazing love for those who seek knowledge was a greatest attraction for us. This love is what she leaves behind for all of us.

Read the tribute in the site

Monday, 8 September 2014

Article - Kuchipudi Bhagavathamelam: A rich cultural heritage - Tadepalli Satyanarayana

At the mention of the word Kuchipudi one’s thoughts go to either the classical dance form Kuchipudi, or to that of the Kuchipudi village in Movva Taluk, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh which is perhaps the only place in India, which has given its name to a classical dance form. 

There continue to be more information through various media avenues showcasing Kuchipudi, the modern day or contemporary version, so to say, around the world by various artists, exponents, gurus, institutes, universities, etc. But when it comes to making available the various aspects with regard to the evolution, transformation, propagation, protection, preservation of the art form which has a documented history running over to centuries before us, there is a huge dearth and void which needs to be filled up to appreciate, imbibe, practice and propagate the nuances of the art form in totality. There is a huge information gap when it comes to facts about the people / community, their struggles, sacrifices, dedication, joy, journey from mere mortals to that of legends with the divine intervention /  guidance, destiny and above all their commitment and steadfastness in undergoing all that was required to make this art form made available for us today.

It is in this regard, there is indeed a dire necessity to know and put in proper perspective the role and contribution of the torch bearers of the art form for centuries now, the Bhagavathamelam of Kuchipudi and their rich heritage. It is indeed a fortune, that their continuous efforts, role in painstakingly ensuring the perpetuity of the art form not only makes interesting reading but also a subject for research providing lessons all through the journey to make one a better human being foremost and an artist of high caliber. Even an iota of the qualities displayed by the pillars and the stalwarts of the Kuchipudi Bhagavathamelam could be internalized by the discerning student of the art form.

Having said that, one can easily decipher that an article would not suffice to cover all their stories or share all that they stood and continue to stand for, but the purport of this article is to provide a glimpse of the Bhagavathamelam tradition and provide impetus for one to undertake a more serious personal journey for further fulfillment in their pursuit in the realm of their art form – Kuchipudi.   

Read the article in the site

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Tribute - Maya Rao – The Cultural Czarina of Garden City - Veejay Sai

Once in a lifetime great people walk this earth and when you witness their presence, you thank your lucky stars for having lived the times they lived in, for having breathed the same air and for being associated with them. Maya Rao was one such epic woman! 

Maya Rao came into my life, way back in 1996 when I was scripting and researching a Tele-serial for STAR TV, based on Indian classical music and dance. The serial was anchored by none other than Ustad Zakir Hussain and was a grand success. The idea was to shoot 54 episodes on music and the next 54 on dance and theatre. In an era where there was no internet and mobile phone and technology wasn’t as friendly, I was commissioned by the channel to go across the country, meet legends in the fields of performing arts and put the script together. We had planned a few episodes on Kathak and I began reading as a part of my homework. I came across a stunning image of Maya Rao in ‘Kathak dance through the ages’ authored by Projesh Banerji and the ‘Marg’ issue on Kathak at the NCPA library in Bombay.  

Read the tribute in the site

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Naman Dance Festival 2014 - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Nrityantar institute in Bangalore established five years ago by Odissi exponent Madhulita Mohapatra, a disciple of Aruna Mohanty, organized the 5th edition of a two day Odissi  dance festival (16 and 17 August) at ADA Rangamandira auditorium.
Besides being a dancer, Madhulita has to her credit a diploma in Cost Accounting. She works at various schools in the city offering special dance classes for children as well as elders. Nrityantar has been working with many schools in the city with the idea of including classical dance as an integral part of the curriculum and routine schooling. Madhulita’s aim is that the children should enjoy something amidst the monotonous school activities, and along with it, they get to learn dance forms and a bit of our rich culture also. She also feels that different styles of Odissi should be showcased.

Read the review in the site

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Obit / Tribute - Chiru navvu momuna (The one with a cheerful face) A tribute to Guru Adyar K Lakshman - Revati Ilanko

The Guru is one who removes the darkness of the mind through the illuminating power of knowledge. A physical form through which jnana or knowledge flows through to the disciple. Just as a statue is shaped and given its form, the Guru removes the observed and unobserved flaws through his wisdom, and allows the disciple to take his/her form. Adyar K Lakshman was my Guru.                                                                                                    

I once read that “the flux of the human heart is gone forever at the transfixing effect of pure love.” In Indian culture, the guru-disciple relationship is the highest expression of friendship, for it is based on unconditional affection and wisdom. It is a noble, nurturing and sacred relationship that enables one to evolve.  The height of this relationship is experienced under a great guru. In the presence of a great guru, knowledge flourishes (Gyana raksha), sorrow diminishes (Dukha kshaya), joy wells up without any reason (Sukha aavirbhava), abundance dawns (Samriddhi); all talents manifest (Sarva samvardhan). This magical environment was created at Bharata Choodamani (Lakshman Sir’s dance academy). Let’s hope this tradition is able to continue to its fullest in the future.

Read the tribute in the site

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Obit / Tribute - Josyula Krishnamurthy is no more - Tadepalli Satyanarayana

Kuchipudi artist / musician Josyula Krishnamurthy passed away in the early hours of September 1, 2014 around 2.30am at his residence. He was 86 years old. Krishnamurthy who started his art journey initially as a dancer, essaying mostly the Sakhi roles was more interested in the music aspect of Kuchipudi Yakshaganam and is a very well known mridangam artist. He specialised in Sampradaya Kuchipudi Yakshaganam talas / music and has the honour of accompanying over 8000 programs during his life time. 

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Obit / Tribute - Maya Rao: A legend is no more - Ashish Mohan Khokar

Great guru of dance, most gracious lady dancer/teacher/guru/mentor most respected and loved “didi” Maya Rao is no more. Her end came as she lived, smiling, despite hardships. She complained of chest pain, her dancer daughter Madhu took her to nearby Ramaiah hospital. She was in fine fettle and then gone. Medical heroics were tried, to no avail. Born on May 2, 1928 in same city, Bangalore, she breathed her last in the early hours of September 1, 2014 near the auspicious brahma muhurtam.

Read the tribute in the site