Monday, 19 September 2016

Remembering Manjusri Chaki Sircar - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Dancers’Guild arranged a memorial lecture and presentation of one of the choreographic works Chitrangada, of late Manjusri Chaki Sircar, a dancer, choreographer, educationist, thinker and believer in extending the boundaries of dance, at Satyajit Ray Auditorium on the premises of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Kolkata, on 4th September.
Holding a PhD in Anthropology on the topic Women of Manipur, Manjusri, with MA from Presidency College in Bengal, went for further studies to Columbia University, USA. In 1945 she was one of the leading dancers in a team of progressive artists who believed in performing Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s poems to the singing and compositions of Tagore’s songs by George Da, Debabrata Biswas. They were all radical artists. Women dancers dared performing with men on equal terms and along with them. Manjusri held many radical views which found felicitous expressions in her later works on her return to Kolkata after a career as dancer and Professor in Anthropology at New Paltz University near New York.

Tall, attractive, articulate and with a strong stage presence, Manjusri was influenced by Tagore’s ideas of Modernism. It was not blindly following the West and following the traditional and classical dance forms without changing them or experimenting with them. They were resources which Tagore insisted upon exploring. Also to look at South East Asia, to the dance heritage of Java, Bali and also Sri Lanka. His daughter-in-law Pratima Devi had visited Europe with him and studied Modern dance from Mary Wigman of Germany.

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