Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Obit/Tribute - Guru Banamali Maharana and Odissi music-Inseparable - Ratikant Mohapatra

To be a Guru, is to touch a life forever. Their teachings live on, not only in their transference of an Art, but also in the humanity, sincerity and love that they bequeath to each and every soul they touch. It is with a heavy heart that the Odissi community grieves the loss of one of the finest masters of the Mardala and a legendary Guru of Odissi music, Guru Banamali Maharana. On November 17, 2018, Banu Dada breathed his last at Sum Hospital, Bhubaneswar. He was 77. He is survived by his wife, son and grandchildren. 

Guru Banamali Maharana was the younger cousin of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra (Guruji) and as my uncle, a father figure to me. Born on May 16, 1941 in the famous artistes' village of Raghurajpur in Puri district, Banu Dada was responsible for developing the grammar and codification of the Odissi Mardala, and giving it a special identity and establishing it as a solo instrument in the realm of Odissi music. He learnt under Guruji, and later became a pioneer in the field of Odissi music. 

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Sunday, 18 November 2018

Delving tradition, deconstructing Ramayana - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Post-Independence, India has seen not merely an upsurge in its consolidation of eight recognised classical dance forms (and a few more waiting in the wings for formal recognition), but also a succession of gurus who have held the cudgels in their capable hands and led the ever increasing batches of learners - in India and in the diaspora abroad, keen to bond with cultural roots they had left behind - over the years. The first generation gurus have been, without exception, trail blazers and have left their stamp on the individual dance forms. An eager batch of new learners - marked by talents and quite often handpicked by the gurus -- were initiated into the mystique of canons of, and choreography in, their styles and have now transformed themselves into worthy second generation gurus in all the eight forms. It is with immense pleasure that one watches the scenario that heralds the emergence of third generation gurus, for, the show must go on.

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Friday, 16 November 2018

Nityananda: The one-legged miracle dancer - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

That no hurdle barring ultimate death can hold back the determined dancer can be seen from the life of Nityananda Das. A young enthusiastic student of Odissi in Bhubaneswar, learning under his Guru Bimbadhar Das, the lad showed real promise of a bright future as an artist, till misfortune in the shape of a grievous fall, resulted in an operation robbing him of one leg. Moving on crutches, a sobbing Nityananda greeted his teacher who angrily looked at this mess of self pity standing in front of him, and in one fell sweep taking away the crutch, ordered him to join the dance class and learn to dance with what he had! Thus started hours of indomitable courage and effort, by both teacher and taught to get the body used to balancing on one leg. And today watching the aplomb with which Nityananda performs, one can only come away astonished at the tenacity and resilience of the human material. 

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Saturday, 10 November 2018

The political spectra - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

If the historical curtain could open on the turning point of the first Christian millennium's end, one would accost the loose "confederacy" of Baro Bhuyan (Twelve Landlords) as a relic of the erstwhile Kamarupa kingdom that covered all of Assam, North Bengal and large portions of Bangladesh. When eventually the central Kamarupa kingdom fragmented, the system of small chieftains remained. In Bengal as in Assam, the Baro Bhuyans were found in regions within the traditional boundaries of the erstwhile large kingdom.The more prosperous ones gave themselves the epithet of Raja (the King). In times of aggression by external powers, they generally cooperated in defending and expelling the aggressor. In times of peace, they maintained their respective sovereignty. In the presence of a strong king, they offered their allegiance.

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Friday, 9 November 2018

Nakshatra Dance Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

The Nakshatra Dance Festival of NCPA (October 12 – 14, 2018) originated in 2009, and is held every October to feature innovative group choreographies. The festival featured two choreographic works on the first day - from Kolkata, Bimbavati Devi’s Ghana Baari Barikhata in Manipuri and Vikram Iyengar’s Shunya Se, a contemporary dance work based on Kathak.

Bimbavati is the daughter of late Guru Bipin Singh and Kalavati Devi. Dance is in her blood. Brought up in a house where dance was taught to young dancers round the clock she imbibed the best from both her parents. Over the years she has proved to be not only a brilliant solo dancer but also as a choreographer. Ghana Baari Barikhata (Reflections in a raindrop) is her latest choreographic work that I saw in Dhaka on a large stage with large number of dancers and at Rabindra Sadan in Kolkata when she presented it as a part of concluding program of centenary celebrations of Guru Bipin Singh.

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Monday, 5 November 2018

Impressive Sattriya dance drama captures life of Sankaradeva - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

It was by all accounts an impressive curtain raiser for Satraranga's collaboration with JNU; the latter unfortunately of late have been in the news for the wrong reasons. Developed as part of a Production Oriented Workshop for the Sattriya training classes held in the University, the choice of a dance drama on the life of the founder of Sattriya, viz. the religious teacher who compounded in his person the talents of artist, poet and dramatist, was very intelligent, for it provided scope for all levels of proficiency, enabling both novices and trained dancers to come together. 

Concept, Script and Direction for 'Dhanya Toho Srimanta Sankara' were by Dr. Bhabananda Barbayan with Niranjan Saikia Bayan working as assistant Director, and Rupashree Mahapatra, Gargi Goswami, Kiran Borah and Sukanya Boruah as the dance teachers. The manner in which the choreography was designed had to be lauded, for while enabling trained dancers to present their expertise in traditional group segments like Gayan, Bayan, Ojha, through experts from Uttar Kamalabari Sattra in Majuli, the narrative seamlessly wove in movement sequences by less experienced amateurs, without diluting the aesthetic totality.

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Sunday, 4 November 2018

Article - The rise and fall of Jayantika - Ileana Citaristi

The word ‘Jayantika’ rings a bell in the mind of each and every Odissi dancer, old or new, upcoming or established, professional to amateur. All of us know that towards the end of the 50’s an association was formed among the gurus, intellectuals, dance researchers  and practitioners with the intent to systematize the practice and teaching of the Odissi style as it was known till then. Repertoire and technique was discussed, dress code was decided and fixed and guidelines were laid down for the future generation of Odissi dancers. In few words, if we are existing today and dancing Odissi in the four corners of the globe, it is largely thanks to Jayantika and the people who took part in it. 

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Thursday, 1 November 2018

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - November 2018

Anita says...November 2018

Do not be daunted 
By the enormity 
Of the world's grief
Do justly, now
Love, mercy, now. 
Walk humbly, now
You are not obligated
To complete the work
but neither are you free
To abandon it. 

As this newsletter drops into your INBOX, the debate about the world's most famous hashtag rages on in India.

I will begin by getting some of the dance events out of the way so I can focus on the most crucial issue that is hitting the performing arts scene in India. 

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