Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Article - Dhananjayan uvaacha!

(Inaugural keynote address by Bharatanatyam Guru V.P. Dhananjayan at the Natya Kala Conference on Dec 26, 2014 in Chennai)
It gives me immense pleasure to inaugurate the 34th Natya Kala Conference. One of its kind, it is a landmark in the annals of  Chennai December season and running this much sought after conference successfully for 34 years is no mean task. We should all appreciate and congratulate Sri Krishna Gana Sabha for organizing this event of international stature.  A brainchild of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and supported and nurtured by Sri Yagnaraman, the Natya Kala Conference helped to raise the standard of performing arts and its theoretical and theatrical aspects. Artistes, connoisseurs and critics from all over the globe have benefited immensely by attending these educative sessions conducted by various scholars and men of letters.  

The printed books of Natya Kala Conference deliberations are records for posterity, and if we can combine all of them, will serve as manuscript for a new Natya Sastra.  I am sure there may be a few people in this audience who have been attending NKC regularly for 34 years (I am one of them) and will cherish the benefits they imbibed from this educative and enlightening conference. 

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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Base Notes by Shanta Serbjeet Singh - Reborn...a modern look at an ancient thought

Deities who are in some way androgynous or intersex are common in mythologies worldwide due to the associated symbolism of creation and fertility. Depictions vary broadly, but there are several described in search stations on LGBT themes in mythology which fit our modern concerns about transgender or intersex. I plan to talk here at some length about a transgender concept in Indian thought which deals with a god composed of two different people, one male and the other female, who can join together and split apart at will. Avowedly, this has very little in common with a contemporary transgender or intersex individual, who is not always interested in being bipolar in his or her sexual preferences. Nor is he/she interested in being more than only on

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Monday, 15 December 2014

The Sunil Kothari Column - Konark Dance Festival 2014

From 1st till 5th December, Konark wears a festive look. The road leading to Konark temple is ablaze with colourful lights, colourful umbrellas, lamp shades, trees glittering with creepers of lights and the sky shines with near full moon. Various large hoardings and display boards with digitalized enlarged images of dancers featured in this festival and previous years are mounted at various points on the walls of Yatri Niwas. The stage is a pucca built one with green rooms in the basement. The multi-tier seating open air theatre faces the impressive tower of Konark temple (now wrapped in wooden scaffoldings).
The Khajuraho Dance Festival is held against the backdrop of Chitragupta temple on a permanent stage, but the Konark Dance Festival does not have that proximity to the temple. It is essentially organized for group dances and the large sprawling stage is ideally suited for that.  This year, if I understood correctly from senior Odissi exponent Kum Kum Mohanty, it is the 25th year of Konark Dance Festival. If so, the organizers missed the celebration of its silver jubilee.

The sleepy Konark village comes to life from 1st to 5th December every year since the Department of Tourism and Culture has taken over organizing the festival. The dates are fixed and well advertised, the festival has its own website, announcements are made in the print media in advance and also on television. A festive mood prevails. The traditional tunes of Odiya songs are played on mahuri, reed instruments, accompanied by the drums, and the microphones blare filmy songs. Yatri Niwas lawns are painted green and yellow. It is the focal point as participating artists are accommodated there, and the Government officials come there for tea before going to the open air theatre. The festival starts punctually at 6pm and is telecast live on DD Bharati.  

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Notions of “classical” in Bharatanatyam: a cultural operation of the classes - arguments of the cosmopolitan Margi and indigenous Desi, repertoires of the Nayak period - Dr. Swarnamalya Ganesh

India’s greatest wealth, development and civilisation have been stirred by its political and cultural processes (Talbot, 2006). In turn, the political agendas have used culture as a medium. In this paper, I will talk specifically about Bharatanatyam and the political history that surrounds this dance form during a certain period. Just as religious norms and practices were varied in India, in spite of emerging a single codification, so also dance, its practice and purpose remained varied notwithstanding the many treatises that documented it. Hence, one could believe that the codification evolved more as a documentation of the existing practices rather than a rulebook. However, these treatises have over the centuries brought about a semblance of a common code for Bharatanatyam. The important question is; what defines Bharatanatyam as classical? Rather, what is classical and by that definition which aspects of Bharatanatyam lend it its classicism? Many a times the term classical is interchangeably used with the word Margam. Margam means the “path” or a newly created space, a certain vision. The other term used alongside Marga is Desi, which means regional. But “regional” is not an antonym to the word path. Desi signified all aspects of art that were not intentionally created but rather were products of human evolution. During the later parts of 20th and the 21st centuries these terms and their connotations took another turn as “folk” and “classical.” Common comprehension of the term folk is any form of dance that is performed by the rural people, to music that is regional, reflecting the inherent cultural practices of the people there. It mostly is a naturally evolved practice, both ritualistic and entertaining in nature. Keeping this definition, can we then say that classical is performed by people who have consciously learnt an art form, performing to music that is more cosmopolitan in nature, reflecting values that are popular among many different cultural groups? Let us therefore pitch this idea of what is classical and what is folk.  

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Article - Education in spiritual values through Bharatanatyam: Part III Recount of ‘Margam’ - Chandra Anand

Margam is the codified formula of presentation that a Bharatanatyam artiste follows to display her/his art. It is given to understand that it is the ideal methodology which the practitioner of the dance form ought to follow.
Margam has been codified by the Tanjore Quartet in the 19th century”. It had been immediately accepted by every dance guru of those times and they have followed it ardently with full faith since then. People still talk about it saying, margam is the right way a full Bharatanatyam performance is to be presented. Kalyanasundaram, dance guru and principal of Sri Rajarajeshwari Bharatanatya Kalamandir, strongly feels, “Margam is here to stay. It is the most scientific format for imparting ‘systematic training’ with variety and gradual progression from the simple to the complicated, both for the ‘performer’ and the ‘viewer’.

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