Sunday, 13 August 2017

Interview - Prateesha Suresh: Responsibility towards my art - Vijay Shanker


The Sattriya dance of Assam has been recognized as one of the eight classical dances of India but many are still unaware of it. Prateesha Suresh is the sole and leading exponent of Sattriya dance in Mumbai. She has also trained in Bharatanatyam at the famous Kalakshetra in Chennai. Prateesha has been consistently promoting Sattriya dance through performances, workshops and seminars in India and abroad.

Read the interview in the site

Friday, 11 August 2017

Farewell to an era - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman



When death embraces a colleague with whom you have been on the same orbit of activity for well nigh forty years, there is a sense of emptiness not easy to shake away with the mind reliving incidents from the past. Shanta Serbjeet Singh and I had been dance writers (she had started years earlier than I had) for a few years before we came to know, accidentally, that we shared more than the same profession. It was in the 80s and we were both invited to what was then Calcutta, to cover a rare, dance event mounted by a company. The performance woven round the Gita Govinda was designed as a site specific performance, staged on the impressive steps and verandah of the historic Victoria Memorial, featuring high profile performers led by Pandit Birju Maharaj directing and designing the dance and playing Krishna (some scenes had Kathakali Guru Balakrishnan in the same role) to the Gopis - played by Saswati Sen, Leela Samson, Bharati Shivaji, Preeti Patel and Madhavi Mudgal . At the hotel where we were booked to stay, Shanta and I at the reception desk got busy filling the form with details asked for - one of them, being the date of birth. Looking over the shoulder and seeing Shanta write 11th January 1936, I said, somewhat intrigued, "Shanta they are asking for your date of birth, not mine." And Shanta replied, "That is mine!" That is how we leant that we were born on the same day - a few hours away from each other!

Read more in the site

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Rasa Rangini - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


The first edition of Rasa Rangini was successful in its premier attempt. One would like to suggest that to showcase his own talent, Debasish should present more dance numbers of Deba Prasad bani which is vibrant and enjoyable.

Read the review in the site

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Health Recipes 14: Sweet Potato Soup - Uma Pushpanathan



Serves: 4
Per Serving: 900 kJ 
Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes

View the recipe in the site

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Interview - Aniruddha Knight: Any burden pushes us towards perfection - Shveta Arora



Aniruddha Knight is the grandson of the legendary T Balasaraswati, and besides carrying on the dance legacy of the long family line of artists, also carries on their musical legacy as a singer. Aniruddha, trained by his grandmother and mother, divides his time between the US and India. When he performed in Delhi as part of the World Dance Day celebrations organized by Geeta Chandran’s Natya Vriksha, I interviewed him about his lineage and style. 

Explaining his style and bani, he said, “Particularly in Balamma's style, the eye movements and head movements are limited in the nritta. It is felt that the egregious use of drista-bhedha is uncalled for in the nritta as it takes away from the natural flow of the dance and seriousness / complexity of the choreography. The pauses are also taken between ideas in the manodharma - one, to think about the next improvisation, and two, for starting "with a clean slate" of fresh ideas. That pause brings back (the dancer) to the reality of this world instead of the constant world of imagination and creation. The dancer falling out of character at that moment adds stark contrast within the piece, engaging the audience in the moment of creating dance from sahitya.” 

Aniruddha, articulate and expressive, had some strong views about how people perceived the style he performs. 

Read the interview in the site

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Off the beaten track - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


One offers heartfelt thanks to the rain Gods for their munificence to Delhi and its environs, notwithstanding the water logging on the streets posing bottlenecks with commuting problems - compelling most programmes to start later than scheduled. This is a small obstacle when viewed against the havoc of floods as in the north east and Gujarat, or the totally dry parched earth with drought in the southern cities causing endless water scarcity.

Monsoons would seem to have stirred a new love for dialogues and discussions on art matters, gripping the performance calendar this month with all art institutions busy organising interactions on various themes. The IIC auditorium as the venue for a series of lectures on different subjects attracted a modest, motley and moving gathering of people of different age groups as listeners. Prerana Shrimali, an established Kathak dancer spoke on her perceptions of the dance form she represented. As a Rajasthani living in Jaipur, she was pushed as a child into learning Kathak. Studiously performing her ta thai thai tat footwork as a part of the process of growing up, she had no knowledge that what she was doing was Kathak. 

Read more in the site 




Saturday, 5 August 2017

Book Review - Dancing Ganjam - Nita Vidyarthi

Edited by Dr. Dinanath and Soubhagya Pathy
Published by Soubhagya Pathy
Editor, Angaraag, Bhubaneswar
Soft bound and Jacketed
188 Pages
Price: Rs.750

In a world full of data in the internet, there is still a greater temptation to possess the exquisitely illustrated collection 'Dancing Ganjam' edited by Dr. Dinanath Pathy and Soubhagya Pathy, that opens many a forgotten and hitherto unknown artistic wonders of South Odisha. Heavily packed essays on the arts, history, folklore, folk traditions of principally South Odisha, embellished with high grade coloured and black and white photographs and stunning imprints of paintings, the volume brings to life the brilliant past and the vibrant present, appropriately redefining and reinterpreting it, at the same time illuminating a dream - the inviolable future. It documents the emergence of Ganjam Odissi and journeys through the rich cultural heritage of Ganjam, citing reasons for incorporating new dimensions to Odissi. The contributors to the volume, all experts in their respective fields, including the renowned editors, bring to focus the treasure trove, richness and vital facts of this geographical region that have been neglected during accounting the rise of modern Odisha. The late revered Dr. Dinanath Pathy belonged to Ganjam, and his involvement with Ganjam Odissi triggered off the idea of the anthology 'Dancing Ganjam' on the epistemology and semiotics of choreography in collaboration with his son Soubhagya.

Read more in the site

Tribute - When the mentor leaves...- Lada Guruden Singh


She walked into my life 23 years ago as a powerful dance critic at The Hindustan Times. I was a kid and she was one of the most influential voices on the Indian arts scene - having a firm grip over artists, the government, the readers - as one of the brightest minds and aggressive proponents of Indian arts and culture globally. Over the years, she firmly threw her weight behind me ensuring I was noticed by the high and the mighty of the arts world. From being a powerful reviewer, she had become an affectionate caring mentor and listener who took special interest in how my school life and later college was going, what my future plans were and how she could make sure I was on the right track. 

Read more in the site

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Obit/Tribute - Shanta Serbjeet Singh (Jan 11, 1936 - Aug 2, 2017)- Ashish Mohan Khokar


Shanta Serbjeet Singh is no more. She passed away on 2 August 2017. Felled by a mild stroke two years ago, she recovered partially and managed bravely and even ventured out occasionally to attend important functions like the World Dance Day on April 29 organized by the Chandrans, at the IIC, Delhi. They honoured her with a lifetime contribution award and a purse too. As had Anita Ratnam through Abhai last year and attenDance a year earlier. Shanta ji was so cultured her last comments to me when I last had supper with her just 2 weeks ago (15 July) was: "I have not written a THANK YOU note to Abhai or attenDance. Whom do I write to?" 

Read more in the site

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Anita says...August 2017


"Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor."
- Anonymous

We are officially in the second half of the year. The longest day is behind us and looming ahead is the season of festivals and celebration. The sun begins its descent as the calendar is filled with numerous reasons to congregate and enjoy the many facets of this incredible country!

Read on

Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - August 2017

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Varsha Ritu draws showers of appreciation - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Varsha Ritu, the annual Monsoon festival mounted by the IIC (July 19 & 20), designed by late cultural activist Manna Srinivasan in 2010, has over the years, judging by the handsome audience response,  evolved into an event on the cultural calendar of the International Centre, that members look forward to. Mainly built round budding young dancers of different dance forms, the one hour performance slots incorporating at least one specially composed thematic item woven round the Monsoon season, have exuded freshness, creating a growing sense of expectancy in the viewers – often captivated while watching less publicised talents.

Providing the curtain raiser, Kathak dancers Leena Malakar Vij and Purnima Roy Chaudhury, disciples of Jaipur gharana specialist Nandini Singh, performed with an infectious sense of joy. The recital held together by the finely controlled mellifluous vocal support of Shoab Hassan with Babar Lateef on the tabla, in the opening invocation Pratham sumeer Sri Ganesh in Desh set to Chautal, (bearing the still un-erased signature of late Pandit Durga Lal)  brought back stirring nostalgic memories for those in the audience who had seen the Kathak master in action. Also from Durga’s repertoire was the finale of Tarana in Bageshwari set to jhaptal. While the two dancers combined well, the more contained dancer was Poornima Roy with a sedately still torso. Leena Malakar, given her involvement and swaying grace of movement, could perhaps control her exaggerated torso genuflexions – to preserve the Kathak angik profile. 

Read the review in the site

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Article - A transformative journey through the Nine Emotions - Shereen Saif


Renowned Kutiyattam exponent, scholar and founder of Natana Kairali, Venu G. elaborates: “The Natyashastra is the greatest work on theatre and stagecraft in the world. This was written when theatre development was at its peak in India. In 6,000 verses what Bharata essentially talks about is how an actor should prepare for stage, fully supported by a practical, living tradition of theatre. With the decline of theatre, quite naturally the application of Navarasa-s got watered down from its full potency to such an extent that today, in some representations it is reduced to the enactment of emotions with mere contortions of the face.” 

Read the article in the site

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Book Review - Contemporary Dance in India - Dr Sunil Kothari


Marg volume 68 # 4, June –September 2017
Edited by Astad Deboo and Ketu H Katrak
Marg Foundation, Mumbai 400001
Price Rs. 350 / $14 (plus postage)

After the publication of New Directions in Indian Dance (Marg vol. 55 No. 2, December 2003 and its reprint in 2005, edited by Dr Sunil Kothari), the major important work on the subject was published by Prof Ketu H Katrak of Irvine University, California: Contemporary Indian Dance, New Creative Choreography in India and the Diaspora (Palgrave Macmilan, UK). It has covered in depth the subject with interviews of major dancers who have been creating contemporary dance within India and Indian Diaspora abroad. Another welcome addition to the writings on Contemporary Dance in India is the critical thinking in: Tilt Pause Shift: Dance Ecologies in India edited by Anita E. Cherian published in November 2016 by the Gati Dance Forum in association with Tulika Books, New Delhi. 

Read the review in the site

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Interview - Dr. Nandkishore Kapote: I want to take Kathak to new heights - Vijay Shanker


One of the senior most Kathak exponents based in Pune, whose enriching contribution spans more than three decades, Dr. Nandkishore Kapote is the disciple of Pandit Birju Maharaj. He has established the Nandkishore Cultural Society and the Sitara Devi Art Museum. He is known for his charismatic performances and as a choreographer for thought provoking and social dance dramas. He has won several prestigious awards and is a senior fellow of the Ministry of Culture. Nandkishore reveals his journey and his aspirations in this candid interview.

What drew you to dance?
I was inclined towards dance since my childhood and I recall my family members telling me that at the age of three I started dancing. I stayed with my grandparents in my childhood; my grandfather who was working as Commissioner in the Revenue Dept got transferred frequently and hence I had to change my school every time he got transferred. We were at Tilaknagar near Shrirampur where my talent was first recognized in the school. I performed for songs "Madhuban mein Radhika nache re...," "Laaga chunri mein daag" which I myself set and performed and this was highly appreciated by my teacher who advised my grandmother to impart dance training to me through a proper guru so that I can perform better.

Read more in the site

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Discourse on dance - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar


Dance discourse is undergoing a slow but steady make over. Wherever one goes, one sees added energy to dance presentations. The commentary has improved greatly. Introductions, punctuality, program notes, contextualization. Dance Discourse. 

Mumbai first: For a city where many felt in this century (2001 onwards) classical dance almost was on its last legs as patronage had declined and most veterans were past performing actively, an over-bearing presence of films and TV - loosely called Bollywood – didn’t help and also dominated. Now there is a sense of revival and survival of the fittest. After the veterans had had their performing careers for 50 years from post-independence to last decade, there was a lull and slowing down of classical dance eco systems. Organizers were few; only some dancers survived and by and large, those waiting in the wings didn’t get a chance. Only 2 or 3 established institutions even produced dance or students.

NCPA has done yeoman service to promotion of dance in the last few years. Their calendar is fulsome. Nalanda does its own in-house talents, a large pool of students and teachers. The generation (in the age group 50 to 60+) that has now come of age professionally are Daksha Mashruwala, Uma Dogra, Uma Rele, Sandhya Purecha, Jhelum Paranjape, Sunanda Nair and Vaibhav Arekar. These are the happening classical dancers of amchi Mumbai today, who are active, visible nationally and committed. All are keeping the flame alive and taking a tradition forward. 

Read on in the site

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sparkle of Kathak-Gharana or Otherwise - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Indian classical music especially in the north India, with its hoary beginnings, came quickly into a Gharana system in recent times. Venerable gurus, since the last century onwards, established their own preferences in ragas, modes of melodic elaborations and nuances in improvisations. Over next two or three generations, their disciples took their gurus’ styles forward and established what came to be recognized as ‘Gharanas’.

Indian classical dances, comparatively a late starter, did not get time enough to entirely freeze with their gurus for a few generations, though distinctive characteristics emerged. Only Bharatanatyam did evince variations between Pandanallur style and Vazhuvoor style, besides a Kalakshetra style. Odissi developed, for instance mellifluous manifestations associated with guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and tantric overtones with guru Debaprasad Das. Kathakali had its distinct genre of Kerala Kalamandalam, as did Mohiniattam with gurus in Mumbai, Delhi and Kerala. Kuchipudi – moving out of Kuchipudi village -- varied somewhat between Chennai and Hyderabad, if not Delhi. Manipuri from the far-east remained fairly homogeneous in character though gurus from Kolkata and Delhi did occasionally differ from Imphal. Sattriya‘s entry into the scene was much too recent. But -- barring Bharatanatyam to an extent – no other form had anything remotely resembling Gharanas: except perhaps Kathak.

Very briefly, the spectacular entry of Darbari Kathak into the Indian dance scene from Lucknow in the mid-19th century, with its dazzling emphasis on sattvikand angik abhinaya, led by the illustrious Bindadin Maharaj’s family and so many others, became known as Lucknow Gharana, followed at the turn of that century, by bold rhythmic  syllables of kavit, acrobatic spinning and strong powerful footwork of Jaipur Gharana under Sunder Prasad and a galaxy of other gurus. A late amalgam of Kathak dance under Sukhdev Maharaj and Gopikrishna led to Banaras Gharana, while the king and his conclave of gurus at Raigarh brought up Raigarh Gharana. They all are deservedly called Gharanas, although it so happens that the bulk of gurus and trained Kathak dancers –seen performing -- belong to Lucknow Gharana today, with gurus from the other three Gharanas getting unwittingly a short shrift. The legitimate question voiced by many -- especially those from what could pardonably be called “minority segment” – is whether this is entirely fair, or, whether there can be one single Gharana for Kathak.

An all-India survey was undertaken by this humble critic to elicit brief answers from among the country’s cognoscente belonging to the Kathak fraternity – especially from among the legendary masters; from renowned gurus and top dancers; and from some brilliant youngsters. The survey obviously could not be exhaustive in a limited time and the views expressed were from the dance exponents themselves. This critic is immensely grateful to the Kathak celebrities who took their time off and framed their thoughtful replies.

Read the responses received in the site

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Brave effort in Delhi by Bangalore based dancers - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Steadfastly refusing to be dampened by the sapping heat of summer or the Azad Bhavan auditorium of the ICCR as venue - too far from the art hub of the city to attract a large viewer clientele - not to speak of the scant interest from the scattered city students of dance, Bangalore's Abhivyakti Dance Centre with Manasi Pandya Raghunandan as Director of the festival, mounted what was called the National Dance festival in association with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

The first half of the event in the form of a seminar featured senior dancer Geetanjali Lal, Ranjana Gauhar, Bharati Shivaji and Prathibha Prahlad, along with Guru B.K. Shyam Prakash, Founder Director of Sanskruthi Bhavan Keshava College of Music and Dance, Bangalore, Dr. Uma Rele, Principal Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya, Mumbai, and this writer. Cautioning against the craving in dance aspirants for catapulting to stage performances even before gaining proficiency in the art form was Geetanjali Lal's narration of the lambasting she received from her Guru Roshan Kumari for having succumbed as a child student to performing in a event. That learning a dance form entailed much larger effort involving study of other disciplines beyond only body movement and that the process of the learner's inner growth could not be hurried was a point stressed by this writer also in the opening talk. 

Read more in the site

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Gods through syncretic prism - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


Odissi Parampara, presented by the petite Muslim dancer Arnaaz Zaman, all of 22 years old, on the occasion of Rathayatra in Kolkata, was a perfect illustration of the deep cultural amity that the likes of Raskhan and Salabega have established and sustained in this country. Beautifully groomed by the Odissi stalwart Kavita Dwibedi, Arnaaz followed the usual margam of Odissi. Beginning her program with a Mangalacharan following the Jagannath Ashtakam, she went over to an elaborate Saveri Pallavi which was well delineated. Switching over to an ashtapadi from Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda, she rendered soulfully the song “Sakhi he keshi mathana mudaram…” in raga Pahadi. Although less than a year old on the stage from her Rangapravesh last year, she showed commendable dexterity in depicting child Krishna’s Kaliya Damana, but Govardhan Dharana should have been paid a little more attention. This was followed by yet another ashtapadi “Srita Kamala…” in raga Misra Khamaj. In a short recital, her concluding item was a delightful Moksha in the scintillating raga Bhairavi.

Read more in the site

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

To smile or not to smile.... - Seen and Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan

The prince of Denmark (Hamlet - in Shakespeare's classic, in case you are an ignorant dancer), in his famous soliloquy says with rather deep introspection "To be or not to be." For him and his country it was a very serious question.....

For us now, it is a matter of aesthetic concern....a dancer should think: ....to smile or not to smile. 

Dear dancers, I can see you already smiling or laughing at this unusual proposition. Believe me, I am serious.

Read the article in the site

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Performing Arts and Yoga - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Yoga as a means of stilling the mind and bringing about unity of mind and body is no doubt an invaluable discipline. While one can rejoice in its spread to several corners of the globe today, one wonders if the hype being associated with Yoga is not sometimes erring by losing sight of its real merits in the glamorising.  With the top political dispensation having such faith in Yoga, the way artistes hailing from different art forms, are passionately trying to display the closeness of their art to Yoga, is a kind of politicisation of both Yoga and art that one needs to be wary of. A Yoga spirit accommodating undiluted concentration of mind /body in the search for one’s self through whatever discipline one is seeking is what is recommended in our performing arts – which are also different pathways to self realisation. Art disciplines need to be pursued with a yogic spirit for Arts as ‘sadhana’ in the ultimate state can achieve that complete harmony (samarasya) and sense of total release resulting in ananda - a state of oneness abolishing all forms of duality. This karmasu kaus’alam as the Gita says of concentrating all energy in pursuit of the journey one embarks on demanding the offering of the best one has to the best one seeks, is a yagna or sacrifice demanded of the seeker. What is implied in the Indian context of inter relatedness amongst disciplines,  is not being sought to be articulated in peculiar ways.

Read more in the site

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - July 2017

Anita says...July 2017


"Dancing is a sweat job
The higher up you go
The more mistakes you are allowed
Right at the top, if you make enough of them
It is considered to be your style."
- American dancer Fred Astaire

I begin my thoughts in the midst of a long overdue retreat with the four fabulous women who have journeyed with me for the past 2 decades and more. Lalitha, Vidhya, Raksha and Akhila are on a well deserved holiday in Sri Lanka where we are brain storming, feasting, meeting creative artistes, taking long walks, and sharing a combined gratitude for our lives! None of the four are dancers! Thank you, ladies, for trusting me with this roller coaster ride we are all on! And Sumathi - our silent puppeteer and webmaster - we miss you! 

#INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY 
On June 21st, the entire world seemed to be poised in a collective INHALE-EXHALE mode.
While many iconic public spaces around the world were filled with yoga mats and convoluted bodies, it was only in my home state of Tamilnadu that there was not a murmur. In my daily morning yoga class with guru Radha Sridhar, we spoke about how it was in Tamilnadu that the "banyan tree" of global yoga started. Guru Krishnamachariar was the source for both BKS Iyengar (Iyengar Yoga) and Jois Pattabhi (Ashtanga Yoga). His son, the late Desikachari, continued the global phenomenon and today even health and fitness professionals confess that unless they add the word YOGA to any new physio or fitness routine, the students do not come!

While a scattered few students were photographed doing yoga in a swimming pool to combat the intense heat, the day was hardly marked in any significant way. 

Read in the site

Friday, 23 June 2017

Fragrance of Fifty Roses - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


Kalamandalam in Kolkata – a bit of Kerala transplanted into fertile Bengal – was, in the beginning, far less an institution and more like a dream for its founder-guru Govindan Kuttty. Armed with a thorough grounding in Kathakali from Kerala Kalamandalam and accompanied by an 18-year-old Thankamani – with her own exposure to dance for four years at Kalamandalam and an extra year on mridangam -- as his consort, the duo landed in the eastern metropolis in 1958. The language barrier was gradually overcome and the classical dance trainings by the Kuttys went on in right earnest, while the epithet “Kalamandalam” stuck in the meantime! Also, because of his immense talent as a Kathakali hero, Govindan was much sought after by Kolkata’s Gita Bitan and other institutions, mostly for Tagore’s dance-dramas. Govindan’s sudden passing away in 2007 was decidedly a major blow. Yet, 50 years and some 15,000 trained students later, Kalamandalam Calcutta has come to stay rooted in the city’s culturescape and today -- with its spread-eagled seven centres and nearly 2,000 students at any given moment – it is a major force for classical arts to reckon with.

Read more in the site

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Delicious snack packs that do your waistline justice - Sathya Nagaraj

Hi, Foodies!

Hope you have seen some slow and steady improvements to your health and wellbeing following the last couple blogs. If you are diligent with the morning smoothie and lunch recommendations, you should be feeling a real difference by now. The simple truth is when your body goes into ketosis, the fat has no option but to melt, and you will invariably end up feeling lighter. Track your progress and you will motivate yourself to remain committed to your lifestyle changes. 

Please remember not to exceed 50 grams of Carbs a day until you see real results.

Read more in the site

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Takeaways from SPIC MACAY’s annual convention - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


Given the galaxy of names from a variety of art disciplines, dotting the programme calendar of SPIC MACAY’s 5th international convention held at this year’s venue of the IIT campus, New Delhi, I would like to ponder on the variety of impressions one came away with from the week-long celebration (June 5 – 11, 2017). From maestros representing different genres of music and dance from morning 9am to 12 noon Intensives in the lecture halls with established names in each field conducting classes, craft workshops presided over by top craftsmen, interactive talks with art makers from different fields like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Anjalie Ila Menon, Dadi Padamjee and Raghu Rai- all topped by early morning sessions from 4 - 7 am mostly held in open spaces  spanning over ten forms of Yoga, it encapsulated mini India in all its diversity.  

Read more in the site

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Interview - Dr. Priyambada Mohanty Hejmadi - Tapati Chowdurie


In a chat with SNA awardee Dr. Priyambada Mohanty Hejmadi (dancer/art writer/biologist and a former Vice-Chancellor of Sambalpur University) at ICCR Kolkata, the scientist cum dance aficionado shared and revealed a lot of the Odissi story which roused the interest of this reviewer. She has been awarded the Padma Shri for her biological research studies by the government of India.

Read the interview in the site

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A life like no other - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar


Giving title to books is not easy. Especially biographical ones.  How to come up with something original and nice? How to convey and CONTEXTUALISE life in dance in a few words? How to relate to these times while recapturing old, bygone days? How to be truthful, yet not state all? How to avoid controversies while getting eyeballs? How to reach out differently? How to, how to...

Having written / produced/ edited more than 40 books out of which 7 are biographies, I can say with some authority that it is ultimately a gift. Saraswati truly has to bless, else it’s not doable. A Life like No Other....no, not mine but title and teeth (substance) of Sonal Mansingh’s biography written by a civil servant named Sujata Prasad is an unputdownable read. Sujata not knowing much about the dance field is actually a plus: Few biases, fewer prejudices. No camps or camouflaging. It’s an AS TOLD TO type of bio. 

And what a bio! Dancers act shy, coy, wishy-washy on surface. Under the surface, most are survivors, often cunning and occasionally smart. Some are truly talented too!  But bold (and beautiful), not many. Sonal Mansingh is.

Read more in the site

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Article - Bollywood Kathak - Shama Bhate

I always have wondered and thought about this newly coined phrase ‘Bollywood Kathak’. What exactly does that indicate or denote or even describe? Does Bollywood Kathak have its own characteristics or a framework or codification - rules, principles and thereby a specific aesthetics to it? To my understanding, when Kathak dancers choose songs from Bollywood films for dance compositions, it is called Bollywood Kathak and nothing beyond this! By the same virtue, if somebody were to dance Kathak to Bengali film songs, would it be ‘Bengali Kathak’? Or to Marathi film songs, would it be called ‘Marathi Kathak’? To me, people choose Bollywood songs because these songs are immensely popular and already have their impact on the public mind. A dancer therefore takes advantage by taking a populist approach because it clearly is an easy way to directly reach the common audiences. In brief, it is a short cut to get instant popularity with minimum amount of study, training, toil and hard work! Period!

Read the article in the site

Monday, 5 June 2017

Interview - Success is never final to Sanjukta and failure never fatal - Dr. S.D. Desai


Sanjukta Sinha of Kumudini Lakhia’s Kadamb Centre for Dance and Music in Ahmedabad has been selected for Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in the Kathak dance category this year by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, in appreciation of her noteworthy work in the form and the promise she holds out. 

I guess on being selected for the 2017 Bismillah Khan award, you had an immediate connect with your guru mentally.  What’s so special about Guru Kumudini Lakhia?
My Guru Kumudini Lakhia is like a blessing to me from god. We share a very special bond and relationship according to guru shishya parampara. She is my guru, my mentor, my inspiration, my strength, my friend and like my family ... She is an epitome of knowledge, wisdom, grace and discipline. She has not only groomed me as a dancer but also as a person. I left my parents and home at a very young age to be with Kumiben and she accepted me as not just a student but like her own child. She is an extremely powerful person and at the same time fun-loving ... I have never seen such an active person at the age of 87. She is unique and special and I see her evolve and grow every day even now, which pushes me to be a hardworking student, a fearless performer and an efficient teacher.

Read the interview in the site

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Anita says...June 2017

"Between lies and the truth lies the truth."
- Controversial British artist Damien Hirst 

#SNA AWARD - REFLECTIONS AND REACTIONS
Acceptance and acknowledgment need to come to every creative person. It is best if it comes at the right time, when the artiste is not yet past her/his prime. But better late than never!

The news of my selection to receive the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi honour for my contribution to the field of contemporary dance in India could not have come at a more surprising moment. I was gazing at the calm waters of the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Dubrovnik in Croatia when my phone lit up with several text and direct messages. The terse words just said “CONGRATULATIONS!" Another said "FINALLY!" Disconnected and on my own since May 22nd, I could not comprehend the intent of these messages until a dance colleague said it in a complete sentence! And what followed was a tsunami of emojis!

I did emit a silent exhale. It has been a long and mostly lonely road. For many, my dance-bio seemed a mottled and confused trajectory. Was I sprouting too many heads? I was not only performing but also organizing, speaking, writing, mentoring, travelling, curating... too many "distractions" or "lack of focus" to excel or shine in one particular field was the criticism I was often hearing. At a SRUTI magazine meeting presided over by founder N Pattabhiraman 18 years ago, I was roundly accused by senior gurus of encouraging young classical dancers to experiment and create on their own. 

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Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - June 2017

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - The Cheese Conundrum – To Eat or Not - Namrata Sundaresan


I love cheese, for me it’s a magical word that can evoke a spectrum of reactions and emotions. A food recognized world over and an essential part of the daily diet in many countries, the earliest evidence of cheese making dates back to 5,500 BCE. Cheese was made to preserve milk, although today cheese has a place of its own in the culinary map. Feta, Camembert, Cheddar, Gouda, Halloumi, Mozzarella, Burrata, Blue, Emmental or Brie… the list runs into a couple of hundreds and each one has a region of origin and a story of its own. It’s fascinating how a single ingredient, milk, can translate into so many variations with the aid of a microbe and rennet. The region of origin has a major role to play in giving the cheese its distinct character. 

A question I get asked often is, “Is eating cheese healthy?” It’s true that our taste buds love cheese but do our bodies love cheese as much. It is important to know where your cheese comes from, the type of milk used and making the distinction from processed cheese. 

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Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Health Recipes 13: Rendang Paneer - Uma Pushpanathan


Serves: 4
Per Serving of 100gm: 250 calories
Preparation and Cooking Time: 1 hour

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Monday, 22 May 2017

Novelty in Arts: An interesting dialogue - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


Raza Foundation in association with Civil Officers Institute arranged a dialogue among architect Vikram Lall, Bharatanatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan, and poet / film maker Udayan Vajpeyi, at Civil Officers Institute in New Delhi. Ashok Vajpeyi, the Trustee of Raza foundation, introduced the speakers and the topic. What is novelty in performing arts? Is it deviation of tradition? Questioning within tradition? Sometimes such questions are seldom understood. He further said that when Ravi Shankar introduced long aalap in sitar, it was understood as novelty and later on became tradition. In classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi and other forms, novelty is seen as retaining continuum. He quoted Mallikarjun Mansoor, the legendary vocalist, who said that it would always be great if the rasikas sat in front row and responded, but even if they were not there and even if the hall was empty, his job was to sing. Such artists are rare now. Even if the audience was less for the evening, Ashok Vajpeyi said the evening had to carry on with few members present. 

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Friday, 19 May 2017

Ushering in Seasons - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


The rich culture of our subcontinent finds its own way to colour the regional New Year celebrations – under either lunar or solar calendar – with ample music and dance, resonating with the whispering winds rushing through the new crops. While Ugadi in the vast tract of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka is the time to get new clothes and getting satiated with good food, Gudi Padwa is, for Maharashtrians and Konkanis, an occasion to tie gudi (a piece of bright yellow cloth) to the tip of a long bamboo and a copper pot inverted on it along with a sugar garland. Baishakhi is the biggest harvest gala across North India, especially in Punjab and Haryana, celebrated with Bhangra and Gidha dance -- as the day of forming the Sikh Khalsa -- with festivities at the birth place of the Khalsa, at the Golden Temple and at Talwandi Sabo.

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Thursday, 18 May 2017

Book Review - Drama Queens: Women who dared to succeed in a man's world - Leela Venkataraman


Drama Queens, by Veejay Sai, is about women who created history in the theatre world between 1850-1950 when art traditions were being reinterpreted to usher in a new age, amidst a rigidly patriarchal Indian society where women regarded as lesser beings, in the entertainment world, were considered lowest of the low, confined to the edges of society. Staggering in the sheer range of material pertaining to interwoven threads of history, of politics, of social attitudes, of literature and performing arts like theatre, dance, music and film, the book indeed traverses many worlds - showing the interconnectedness in art streams. To unearth biographical details on unsung Bais, devadasis, kalavantulu, sanis and tawaifs, whose contributions so enriched our art world, is not easy. And one applauds this herculean research effort where source material comprised picking up shards of "a random passing gesture, a miniscule citation in a newspaper clipping", bits of material in defunct Urdu chronicles, old Tamil and Bengali journals, Marathi scripts, vernacular press clippings and not least, bits of information provided by the occasional surviving friend or relative - to make narratives out of. 

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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Natya Bharatiyam - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


International Dance Research and Training Centre, Hyderabad, presented a three day classical dance extravaganza Natya Bharatiyam consisting of solo Kuchipudi, group Bharatanatyam, group Kuchipudi, Kuchipudi dance dramas, group Odissi, group Kathak and also on the final day devotional songs at the Shilpa Kala Vedika auditorium at Madhapur, High Tech City, from 24th till 26th April in the evenings from 5pm. And every day it concluded around 9.30pm on account of a large number of participants. After the concluding day, I learnt from the organizers that in all 192 dancers and musicians participated. 

Madhavi Puranam, the editor of Nartanam quarterly, had a year ago arranged documentation of Kuchipudi dance dramas and Yakshaganas at Kuchpudi village in collaboration with Sangeet Natak Akademi. It was a huge affair. In December last year, Andhra Silicon Valley's Anand Kuchibhotla had arranged Kuchipudi Mahabrinda Festival at Vijayawada in keeping with his earlier similar Mahabrinda Festivals of Kuchipudi winning Guinness Book Records. It is on account of Anand Kuchibhotla's Andhra Silicon Valley group of people, whose organizing capacity is amazing, that such events are held on such grand scale.

The chief organizer of the three day Natya Bharatiyam is a young, 28 year old, traditional Kuchipudi dancer Dr. Tadepalli Satyanarayana Sarma from Kuchipudi village. His paternal grandfather Tadepalli Chandraiah was known for his Kuchipudi Pagativeshams and Kalapams. Satyanarayana's great grandfather Tadepalli Periya Sastry was the guru of Vempati Chinna Satyam. Periya Sastry and his lineage were known to support accompanists, mridangam players, nattuvanars, and literary figures for Sampradaya Bhagavata Melam. Satyanarayana is possessed with the idea of reviving the fast disappearing Yakshaganas and Kuchipudi Nritya Rupakas with the establishment of International Dance Research and Training Centre (IDRTC).

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Friday, 12 May 2017

Nine steps to visualising Tyagaraja kritis - Seen and Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan


I belong to a Thanjavur ancestry. Therefore, the songs of Tyagaraja were literally the melodies I woke up to. My mother Alamelu Viswanathan sang and played them on the veena as her personal offering to Rama. She taught us some famous kritis, which have stayed with me ever since. I remember both myself and my sister Sujaya singing some of the easier songs at Golus during Navarathri. 

Learning vocal music from a young age created a singing repertoire for me, which was rich in range: from the demanding Pancharatnas to the evocative poems in melodious ragas of which Tyagaraja was the exclusive master. But listening to great singers was an even more enlightening experience. I used to marvel at the torrent of "sangathis" in some kritis and enjoy the variety of ragas.

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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Natya Vriksha's riveting salutation to dance matters - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


Thoughtfully planned, each year's festival mounted by Natya Vriksha in association with the IIC, to celebrate World Dance Day, has had something original to offer. This year's two-day event began with well known critic and arts columnist Shanta Serbjeet Singh being conferred the first Natya Vriksha Lifetime Achievement Award for the many years of contribution to dance writing. 

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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Sparks of passion - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


Kandyan dance, originally performed by dancers who were identified as a separate caste under the Kandyan feudal system - aligned to the 'Temple of the Tooth' and with a significant role to play in the dalada perahera (procession) held each year by the local temple - waned gradually in popularity as the support for the dancers from the Kandyan kings ended during the British period. Now revived and adapted for the stage, Kandyan dance is reckoned as part of Sri Lanka's prime cultural heritage today.

Under UNESCO's laudable vision prevailing over a decade, there is no better means than dance for vividly illustrating cultural diversity and embodying rapprochement among communities and nations. As the ideal means for bringing together people from different countries, there could have been no better initiative, therefore, for the West Bengal Dance Group Federation than to celebrate the World Dance Day 2017 by presenting participants of a workshop under the eminent Kandyan choreographer Buddhi Edirisinghe from Sri Lanka. 

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