Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Interview - How a dancer transforms: Streevesham dancer Abdul Khalid - Shveta Arora

I once watched a performance by Ajay Kumar and Sathyanarayana Raju. Here, Ajay Kumar was portraying Satyabhama in the Kuchipudi repertoire, and I can swear that if I had not known that he’s a man, I would have thought he was a tall woman. It was not only his costume, but his entire face makeup, his expressions, his dance that exuded femininity. So makeup for a dancer is very important because it can transform the dancer totally. 

Shringara is, hence, not only classical dance’s favourite rasa, it’s also a very real prelude to the dance performance. The process of donning the traditional dance costume, wearing the many pieces of distinctive jewellery, doing the hair and applying makeup is an integral and intimate ritual that transforms the performer into a nayak or nayika. I recently interviewed well-known makeup artist Brij Mohan Gupta on the nuances of doing makeup for classical dance, and he explained what the stylist/makeup artist focuses on. But for a view from the inside, I also interviewed Abdul Khalid, a Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer in Delhi who does stree vesham, and applies his own makeup for it. This one is about how a dancer transforms with and during their shringara.

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Article - Book extract: The Undoing Dance - Srividya Natarajan

(Excerpted with permission from The Undoing Dance, Srividya Natarajan, Juggernaut Books.) 

We waited for the performance to begin. It was gaspingly hot. The fans were too high up to be much help. The nasal sisters had stopped singing. A microphone was being temperamental. A baby began crying and was taken out, its receding wail broken into hiccups by rough joggling. Behind the backdrop the dancer walked up and down busily, her ankle bells proclaiming her location. On a rug at stage right, the musicians tuned their instruments. The mridangam player tested the pitch of his drum - dhim - dhim - dhim - raising the note infinitesimally with a tap! of his wedge and stone, over the thongs that bound the stretched skin to the wooden barrel. Dhim - dhim - tap - tap. It was a pleasant sound. The Biscuit King splayed his fingers comfortably on his thighs and leaned forward.

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Sunday, 9 December 2018

Festival of Kathak duets - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Rag Virag Kala Kendra affiliated to Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal Mumbai and Prayag Sangit Samiti Allahabad was initiated in 2002 by late Sheila Siddhantkar. Since 2010, Kathak dancer Punita Sharma now the General Secretary, has been organising the two-day Duet Festival of Kathak in Delhi. Supported by the Ministry of Culture, the event sponsors young talents along with more experienced artists. 

When two persons share stage space in Kathak, the nritta part poses few problems. The challenge is in the traditional abhinaya segment with the Thumri, conventionally meant for solo depiction, which when presented by a pair of dancers sharing stage space calls for some imaginative designing in presentation aesthetics, with interpretative designing not marring this item's intrinsic identity. 

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Friday, 7 December 2018

Dream and iconoclasm - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Mohit Chattopadhyay (1934-2012) was an avant garde dramatist in Bengali language and a poet, with over one hundred plays to his credit. Hailed as a Kimitibadi (one with the motto 'what is it?') playwright, because of the cryptic quality of his language, Mohit was critically admired for many milestone works in the history of Indian political drama produced with acclaim in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.

Captain Hurrah presented on October 31 in Kolkata by 'Ichchhemoto' was penned in 1970.....

Apparently imaged after the Middle-Age monasteries in Europe with their cloistered band of priests, Tagore's seminal play Achalayatan (The Static Institution) conjures up a fortress like closed space somewhere around us, with staunchly hierarchical religious luminaries, overseeing a group of well-secluded novices, bent on learning only their decrepit scriptures and strictly observing decades old rites in every walk of life. Tagore spins his allegorical tale in this cooped up atmosphere, where a certain learner has inadvertently opened up a certain window closed ritually for ages and is being administered mind-boggling punishments; a novice is brewing revolt by neglecting to learn his dicta and hobnobbing with the free tribals roaming around outside the closed institution's precincts; and the chief priest has uneasy stirrings in his mind on whether such rigorous formalism has at all been worthwhile. The "erring" chief priest is promptly banished; the overall 'guru' of the sect is heralded to visit after a very long interval and, when he finally arrives, he is seen in a rebellious mood to take down the stagnating citadel -- by leading the tribals to break into it - and freeing the institution of its accumulated bindings. .....

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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Shishira Chhanda Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Noted Odissi dancer Sarita Mishra established her Adyasha Foundation in 2010. Trained from a young age by various gurus and later on by Yudhishthir Nayak and by Bichitrananda Swain, Sarita moved to Bangalore after marriage. She found among Bangalore community, great interest in Odissi dance form. With increasing number of Odiyas settling in Bangalore, Odissi dancers receive support from the Odiya community. To the credit of Bangaloreans they have also shown interest in Odissi dance, despite the predominance and popularity of Bharatanatyam and Kathak. 

Four years ago, Sarita with support from well wishers planned a two day annual Shishira Chhanda dance festival inviting local senior dancers. Sarita also started showcasing her disciples along with the local established dancers and exposed the disciples ranging from tiny tots to senior dancers to other dance forms like Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Kathakali. She also presented her solo numbers which drew attention to her talent as a gifted solo dancer and choreographer. Within a span of four years, she succeeded in earning goodwill of several dancers and institutions for her sincerity, integrity and perseverance.

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Saturday, 1 December 2018

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - December 2018

Anita says...December 2018

Creativity is not a will-o-the-wisp muse that visits erratically
Instead, Inspiration is a flower that requires pruning, tending, affection…
- American dance critic Erin Bomboy

I started writing this month’s musings from the calm environs of my ancestral home in the small village of Tirukurungudi, deep into the heart of Tamilnadu. When softened by the clean air, misty mountains and gorgeous architecture, it is easy to smile at the world. And perhaps I too need to smile, after a month of furious accusations, historic bans and the Carnatic music/dance world aflame with sexual accusations and festival cancellations.
I needed to exhale and the NAMBI Temple deep in the heart of Tamilnadu provided the perfect setting. 

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