Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Prune in June - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

June is a hot and happening month when summer solstice takes place. While cold countries like Sweden celebrate Midsummer with dance and music festivities, in hot and happening countries like India, it's a time when the full dance calendar whittles down to a trickle, bit like inadequate water supplies in most metros. It is also a time when most professional dancers tour abroad or those rich ones who can afford, go to hill stations to breathe or take a breather - even a workshop. These are often more shops than work! But commonplace now. 

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Article - My tryst with classical dancing in 1950, at the age of six! - Satish Pillai

Over time and with lack of initiative, certain events of the past pass into oblivion and fail to get recorded. I was a Bharatanatyam dancer at the age of eleven, the first male to perform a full-scale Arangetral at Sunderbai Hall in 1956, under the auspices of The Film Journalists' Association, Mumbai. Mr. Burjor Pavri was then the President. The Arangetral was presided over by Sardar K.M. Panikkar, historian, art connoisseur and the then Ambassador to Russia.

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Monday, 24 June 2019

Borgeet makes the evening of Assamese classical music/dance - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Time seemed to have little consideration for the organizers of Pratishruti Foundation in collaboration with Assam Peoples' Welfare Association, mounting an evening dedicated to Music and Dance of Assam at the Sai Shankar Auditorium, Delhi. Not a soul could be seen in the compound when one reached at 6.15pm for a program scheduled to start at 6.30pm. About to turn back feeling one had perhaps come to the wrong place, I saw the poster after walking up to the lobby and entered the auditorium to find about half a dozen people seated with sound and light being tested with singers seated before microphones, with bizarre shifts of light rays from right to left which made one feel unsettled creating a headache. Expecting the pitiful lack of audience to improve, the organizers seemed inclined to wait beyond half an hour. Realizing that more delay would discourage even those present from remaining, the evening finally started.

For an evening devoted to Assamese culture, Sri Krishna Goswami and his party provided the perfect start with Borgeet (also spelt as bargita or borgit), the neo-Vaishnav music of Assam, comprising compositions of Sankaradeva (1449-1568), the founder of the Sattriya tradition and his disciple Madhavadeva. From the Prabandha Gana tradition and Prasangia style practiced in the Sattras, (individual Sattras have their own singing conventions of the same Borgeet) this composition set to raga Aheer, in the totally devotional tone of this music, was sung in perfect sruti by Sri Krishna Goswami accompanied by two female singers. The reposeful singing was like a meditation, accompanied by the melodious flute and the percussion of the kohl. The composition was in a set of talas - each statement of the lyric in a different rhythmic metre of multiples of 3, of 5, of 7 etc. Starting with the Haribol "Ramo more Ramo, Krishna, Sankara Guru..." the slow moving music, totally devoid of virtuosity, derives its power from the emotive throb of bhakti and complete adherence to sruti. The group sang one more composition, this time of Madhavadeva. The raga announcement by the compere was so muffled over the mike that one could not hear it clearly. Altogether, this evening's singing was for me one of the finest experiences of Borgeet singing.

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Article - Towards bliss with nritta - Chandra Anand

Nritta is defined as pure dance where stylized movements are performed to rhythmic music. Nritta element enhances the beauty of the dance. It does not convey any message. 

Nritta elements: 
Dance is performed with coordinated movements of major and minor limbs of the body. Cadences of body movements are combined to make dance patterns. Small units of dance patterns are called as adavus. These adavus are basic units that are combined to make major dance patterns called korvais and jathisAdavus, korvais, and jathis are nritta elements of Bharatanatyam. 

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Friday, 21 June 2019

Sudraka's glimpses into ancient society - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Kalamandalam Piyal Bhattacharya's single-minded effort of remapping Bharata's early first-millennium practices of Natyashastra had begun with his founding of 'Chidakash Kalalaya' as a center of art in 2013. Dedicated to preserve and propagate the wisdom of Bharata's whole gamut of Natya system, comprising Angik, Vachik, Sattvik, Geet, Vadya, Aharya and Sajja, his institution stands virtually alone amidst the Babel of modern society in its present milieu. Its endeavor has been to contribute to the richness and importance of Guru-Shishya Parampara - recognized by Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2017 - resulted into an exploration of the form of 'Marga Nritya' that has been bearing fruit of late.

Padma Pravritakam (the Lotus Consent), presented on May 26 by the same group, was a sign of the continuous effort to uphold the early first millennium Natya tradition of Bharata, covered in Chapter 18 of Natyashastra. The first fruition earlier was an Uparupaka - with dance direction and musical rendition by Piyal himself - in the form of Bhaanak, a Shaivaite male-oriented presentation. Then came another Uparupaka, this time as Bhaanika, which was a feminine version of Bhaanak. The main goal remained to groom the students in various forms of abhinaya and to ensure holistic development of the actor's language. Padma Pravritakam, in contrast, was with script written, music composed and Dhruba Gaana created by Sayak Mitra, a gifted disciple of Piyal's, besides essaying the pivotal role of Sutradhar (narrator). Only the artistic direction was kept by Piyal, which is an admirable effort to build up the disciples.

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Monday, 17 June 2019

Interview - Epitome of shringara in Kathakali with Guru Sadanam Balakrishnan - Shveta Arora

The makeup of the performer is very important for any performance. Kathakali is one dance form that has very distinctive makeup and costuming, which can totally mould the dancer in that character. Here, you see a dancer wearing very elaborate aharyam and the makeup has totally transformed him into the monkey king for the performance. So many aspects of his makeup are remarkable. His facial colours, his eye makeup, the enhancement of his lips and the beard-like mask. This art of makeup is probably as old as the art of Kathakali itself. He goes about moving his very heavy, cumbersome costume and making strange expressions on his face.

This is Guru Sadanam P.V. Balakrishnan, one of the most renowned and established exponents of Kathakali today. A respected guru of the dance form for decades, he has added several new plays to the repertoire, written a book on Kathakali, travelled to over 25 countries and trained and guided several younger artists. Among his several awards is the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2004). He took over as principal and chief artist of the International Centre for Kathakali in Delhi in 1980 after several years of performing and teaching. We spoke to him about the distinctive makeup in Kathakali, what it's made of, how it's done and how it helps in the performance.

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Friday, 14 June 2019

Ratikant Mohapatra Calling.... - Navapallava in Bhubaneswar

In an effort to support and encourage the new generation of classical dancers across India, the first edition of Navapallava was organised as a collaboration between Srjan and Orissa Dance Academy at Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Bhubaneswar, on May 25, 2019. This initiative aims to provide a dignified platform for promising classical dancers aged between 25 and 40 years, to showcase their skill and talent pan India, under the patronage of eminent gurus across their respective cities. While Navapallava was conceived as the brainchild of Ashok Jain, Vice Chairman of SPICMACAY, it is an ideological collaboration among dance gurus across various cities, who have been working relentlessly towards the smooth operation of the movement. 

On behalf of the entire dance community, Aruna Mohanty and I are privileged to initiate Navapallava as a series of classical dance events in Bhubaneswar. Our prime focus is to highlight the role of the young dancer in Indian classical dance while taking a stand against the practice of 'Pay and Perform' that many upcoming dancers face in their journey of art. 

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