A breathless month, filled with so many viewings of dance and theatre. Thirty days of almost nonstop watching and also performing, teaching and listening. So far, this has been my stellar 4 weeks of the year - as a rasika, an artiste and a dance explorer.
So here goes...
September began with a moving and sentimental tribute to the Sanskritist and scholar sans pareil, S. Sarada of Kalakshetra. It was a beautiful and heartfelt evening of dance, speeches and gently nudged memories through scenes from iconic Kalakshetra productions. When the four stalwarts, VP Dhananjayan, CV Chandrasekhar, Balagopal and Janardhanan entered the stage to share the collective responsibility for the varnam ROOPAMU JOOCHI, the audience burst into a spontaneous applause. When VPD and wife Shanta posed as Rama and Sita for the final Tillana/Daru scene, it made many senior alumni wipe their eyes in nostalgia. The packed Rukmini Arangam was heartfelt in its standing ovation to the confluence of experience and art. I did, surprisingly, fall in love with the elegant and intelligent framing of the ‘teernamans’ and ‘sancharis’ of ROOPAMU JOOCHI, forgetting how this one ‘varnam’ almost damaged my knees and lower back with Sarada Hoffman's insistence on deep, deeper, deepest ‘araimandi’ and strong footwork. Today, this varnam represents the essence of Rukmini Devi's vision of modern Bharatanatyam as well as the gender neutral choreography that has become the global signifier of "clean technique." A memorable evening.
I missed the memorial to guru Narasimhachari a few days later which was also very well attended. The passing of another creative spirit, along with a host of invaluable seniors over the past 9 months has surely diminished the creative landscape of dance and music. Perhaps it is now time to do a special issue marking the contributions of these creative dance and music makers. A volume of 100 names who have revolutionized the tapestry of modern Indian dance in the 20th century. I use the word ‘modern’ consciously. We tend to forget that classical dance, as we know it today, is really a modern form - reconstituted for the urban elite post India’s independence and made attractive for larger consumption. It is a far cry from the art of the "sadir" and the artistes that made dance and music their entire life!.
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