Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Interview - An imaginary interview with Guru Gopinath - Part 11 - Tapati Chowdhurie

Besides being a dancer, teacher and founder of a popular dance form, you have several publications to your credit.

The practical and the theoretical aspects of Indian classical dance; Nritta-Nritya-Natya has been published in six books namely Abhinayankaram; Classical Dance Poses of India; Kathakali dance; Abhinayaprakashika; Natana Kairali; Rhythm and Dance.

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Sunday, 15 May 2022

Interview - Geeta Chandran: Endance the universe - Aparna Vasudevan

A celebrated artiste and a star performer, Geeta Chandran is synonymous with Bharatanatyam. Today, even as she marks over four decades of engagement with Indian classical dance since her arangetram in 1974, Geeta Chandran has evolved to become a renowned artist who has synthesised the knowledge she received from her stalwart gurus to imprint Bharatanatyam with her personal vision of the dance. In her dance presentations, Geeta Chandran skilfully weaves abstract notions of joy, beauty, values, aspirations, myth and spirituality. Geeta is the artistic director of Natya Vriksha Dance Company known for the high aesthetic quality of its group presentations. In the book Dynamic Women Dancers (women's hall of fame series), Canadian author Anne Dublin listed Geeta Chandran as one of the ten global "all-time great dancers." Here Geeta Chandran speaks about her dance journey.

When did you realise that dance is your calling?
Hailing from a family which was very focused on education, academics was very important for my parents. But they were also connoisseurs of art, so they used to take me to concerts of dance and music right from my young age. Then with academics I started to learn dance at age of 5 and music at 7. I was blessed to have a structured upbringing with academics, dance, music, sports etc. I think all this created a passion in arts. It was much later after I finished my PG in communication, I tried to multitask and then realised that I wanted to get into all aspects of dance, music, theory, rhythm, mythology, poetry, philosophical aspects etc. When I came to realise that I couldn't multitask, I gave up my job. You could say that was my turning point when I decided to take dance as my life.

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Monday, 9 May 2022

Interview - Sangita Chatterjee on working with a Bharatanatyam mentor - Shveta Arora

"When you are alone choreographing something, you want a second eye to see what is not going right," says Sangita Chatterjee on working with a Bharatanatyam mentor. Sangita Chatterjee is a Kathak dancer, choreographer and teacher whom I have been watching with interest for many years. She has learnt Kathak from Guru Vaswati Misra but has developed a distinct dance identity marked by conceptual richness and intellectual exploration in her presentations. She has also organized events through her dance and arts company, Kalpataru Arts.

She recently choreographed and performed a piece for Pratiroop, an online dance event organized by Divya Warier. Pratiroop paired an established dancer in one dance form as a mentee with a guru from another dance form as a mentor, and asked them to come up with a short, fresh piece for digital broadcasting. Sangita was paired with Bharatanatyam guru Rama Vaidyanathan and presented a thought-provoking piece called Manthani. I spoke to her about it afterwards and also discussed performing for the camera as compared with performing for a physical audience.

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Friday, 6 May 2022

Dance Matters or does it? - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

So, when my column title became the title of a seminar content in World Dance Day event just concluded recently (29th April) and 7 star dancers/teachers/festival organisers/gurus decided to address the issue, the hall filled with many more dancers, gurus and enthusiasts (keeping Covid protocols in mind or masks!) clapped for each speaker. Never before have I heard so many claps after each speaker had made a point at any seminar.

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Sunday, 1 May 2022

Anita says...May 2022

 In Madurai

city of temples and poets
Who sang of cities and temples
Every summer
A river dries to a trickle
In the sand
Baring the sand rubs
Straw and women's hair
Clogging the watergates
At the rusty bars
Under the bridges with patches
Of repair all over them
The wet stones glistening like sleepy
Crocodiles, the dry ones
Shaven water-buffaloes lounging in the sun
The poets only sing of the floods

- An excerpt from A RIVER by A K Ramanujan

Anita Ratnam
It has been a packed month of watching, talking, sharing, writing, rehearsing and performing. With International Dance Day just concluded, I have chosen to focus on the joy and beauty of DANCE this month. Showered with a feast of ideas, expressions and the familiar sweat of rehearsals, it has been 30 days of my body at play. Aaaand… my muscles are aching and rejoicing in tandem.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Book Review - Tracing the roots of Odissi in the Geeta Govinda - Leela Venkataraman

Title: Odissi and the Geeta Govinda

Author: Ileana Citaristi
Publisher: Manohar Publishers & Distributors
Year: 2022
ISBN: 9789391928575
Price: Rs.1500 approx.

An Odissi dancer and teacher of Italian descent, Ileana Citaristi, who made Odisha her home forty one years ago, has established credentials as an author, with her books Making of a Guru on Kelucharan Mohapatra (published in 2001), Traditional Martial Practices of Orissa (2012) and My journey-A tale of two births (2015). In her latest book Odissi and the Geeta Govinda brought out by Ajay Kumar Jain for Manohar Publishers and Distributors, she not only reiterates Odissi's special love for Jayadeva's prabandha, but also builds up a strong case for the Geeta Govinda having sown the very seeds of Odissi in the Orissan soil.

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Thursday, 21 April 2022

Interview - An imaginary interview with Guru Gopinath - Part 10 - Tapati Chowdhurie

Pt Nehru invited you to a tea party at Teenmurthi Bhavan when you were in New Delhi for the All India Dance Seminar in 1958. What do you remember about your memorable interaction with Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India?

I was a little hesitant when Panditji came, shook my hand and said "Aao, Aao" and offered me a cup of tea. I could hear non-stop clicking of cameras and flashing of lights. I was at the top of the world. I am being photographed having tea with Pt Nehru? After having tea, I mustered up courage enough to request Panditji as politely as I could, if I could get his autograph. He was more than happy to oblige. He signed in a small diary and handed it over to me, patting me on my shoulders gently. That was the first time in my life I had ever taken an autograph signature from anyone. After all, was he not the Indian Prime Minister, whose signature I had taken?!

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