Thursday, 15 February 2018

G. M. Sarma (1936-2017): A tribute - Madhavi Puranam

We condole the sad demise of our founder publisher, Garikapati Muralidhar Sarma (April 2, 1936-Dec 18, 2017), the brain and the prime mover of Nartanam. I do not quote the great bard when I say that G.M.Sarma garu, as he was popularly known, was a man who was "born great" and also "achieved greatness"; Sarma was such. He was born with a suave and sensitive persona, which possessed an innate love for arts. He attained greatness with a finer sensibility of a connoisseur who served as an altruistic patron of Kuchipudi and dance at large. But his was an unsung greatness. 

You cannot find him on google and there is nothing written about him anywhere. He was a man not connected with dance in any way other than being an interested spectator. 

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Rediscovering a scholarly legacy - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Indian performing arts traditions are remarkably rich in scholarly treaties. Placed around the onset of Christian era, Bharata’s Naṭya Shastra is probably the earliest known arts compendium in the world and notable as an ancient encyclopedic treatise that influenced dance, music and literary traditions in India. Its text comprised 36 chapters with a cumulative total of 6,000 poetic verses describing performing arts and inspired secondary literature of Sanskrit Bhashyas(reviews and commentaries), as compiled by Abhinava Gupta in the 10th century and by Nandideva in the 10-11th century. Nandikeshvara, regarded by many as a rival of Bharata, was the author of Abhinaya Darpana (The Mirror of Gestures) in the 2nd century, used often as a reference text for both Bharatanatyam and Kathak today. Matanga’s Brihaddeshi, pertaining to Indian classical music and written in 6th-8th centuries, was the first treatise that spoke directly of the raga and distinguished the classical (margi) and the folk (desi). It also introduced Sargam notation, discussing musical scales and micro-tonal intervals, as clarifications of Natya Shastra on which its author had based his work.

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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

National seminar on Music and Dance and Kathak Museum - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Bhatkhande Deemed University, Lucknow, organized a two day national seminar (Jan 28 & 29, 2018) on training and presentation of classical Indian music and dance arranged on their premises. Shruti Sadolikar Katkar, the celebrated Hindustani vocalist of Jaipur -Atrauli gharana is the present Vice Chancellor. Under her dynamic leadership, the University has undertaken several projects and once again placed the Bhatkhande Deemed University on the cultural map of India. Established by Shri Bhatkhande in1920, it has been an important centre of classical Hindustani music. Bhatkhande used to say that even if we cannot produce many Tansens, we can produce hundreds of Kansens, the connoisseurs of classical music. His epoch making work is well known. 

Lucknow with its cultural history is a major centre for training and promoting classical Indian Hindustani music and also dance. At the University besides Kathak, training is also given in Bharatanatyam and Manipuri. Lucknow has been the main centre for Lucknow gharana of Kathak with a long history.

The seminar had a specific focus on the training and performance of classical music and dance. Shruti Sadolikar in her keynote address placed forth main conceptual norms for training of classical music. Right from the riyaz - practice of music - how it has to be dealt with.

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Monday, 12 February 2018

Adiyal Vinnappam (A Devadasi’s Appeal)

The mid January furor in Tamilnadu over the comments of film lyricist Vairamuthu against the mystic saint poet ANDAL brought several voices to the fore. Amidst the cacophony of death threats and menacing comments about the revered Andal’s poetic genius and inspiration, came the realisation that she was one historical figure who had ignited the spark of Tamizh pride, Beyond, caste and gender, ANDAL was claimed by some as MOTHER and others as SISTER. 

Musicologist, Dance afficionado, guardian of important Carnatic traditions and a keen observer of the performing arts, Sujata Vijayaraghavan has written these lines in Tamizh with an accompanying English translation.

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Friday, 9 February 2018

Interview - Sandhya Raman: More dancers should get serious about costumes - Shveta Arora

When we watch a dance performance, the first impression which lasts through the performance and stays with us afterwards too, is the costume of the dancer. The costume can also make or mar a performance —the colours, the pattern and the extent of mobility it allows, its comfort etc. Sandhya Raman is one of the leading dance stylists, designing for some top dancers in India and abroad. In a conversation with her at her Desmania Studio in Delhi, we try to understand her work. 

How did you get into designing? 
My training is from NID (the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad). Before NID, I was doing textiles in an export house for a year-and-a-half. My boss there wanted me to do fashion, and I knew nothing about fashion. He said it’s not so difficult, draw fashion figures, you can do fashion designing. I would be very frustrated, because I would do some 200 sketches and only 4 or 5 would get picked up. Then I worked with this French designer who came to the export house. I would keep looking at how she drew - this is way back in 1987-88, when fashion was nothing great here. India was just a produce-and-send place. When I saw this woman do so much of it, I thought I should learn fashion. My boss never understood that textiles and fashion are two different areas and he can’t get the same thing from one person. But today, I think differently, after being trained in both areas. 

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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Classical and contemporary conundrums - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

India has a treasure trove of scintillating myths that have endured for centuries. Laden with layers of meanings and interpretations, these myths have provided continuing sustenance to the intellectual and spiritual ethos of its simple folks as well as discerning individuals. Culled from the epics and puranas, and myriad folklores, they have been a fountainhead of inspiration for all the classical dances of the land. Contemporary dances too, though less frequently, have derived inspiration from these perpetual sources.

It has been a favourite thesis with this critic that in our exhilarating modern times when the role of fate in the human affairs has lost some of its sheen, science and its cohorts have unravelled much of the secrets of life, and technology has made severe inroads into all lifestyle activities - - our dances must try to re-imagine the myths and re-map them in their visualisatiion in the light of modern sensibilities. A good paradigm can be seen in the celluloid world where the simplistic storytelling, the life-size archetypal chacterisation and the narratives leading to easily surmised ends have yielded to far more nuanced treatments of theme and subtle depiction of psyche of the dramatis personae has become the order of the day. Could our dances follow suit? 

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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Delectable Kathak recitals in Delhi - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Aditi Mangaldas's two choreographic works
Celebrated Kathak exponent Aditi Mangaldas, disciple of Kumudini Lakhia and Pt Birju Maharaj, has charted her own path in Kathak dance. Trained in classical Kathak she has had distinct advantage of traditional Kathak under Birju Maharaj and looking at classical Kathak from contemporary angle under Kumudini Lakhia. Her work 'Within' presented at Delhi's Kamani Hall on Jan 18, 2018 by Natya Ballet Centre was divided into two parts: 'Knotted' which is choreographed as contemporary Kathak and 'Unwrapped' choreographed in classical Kathak. 

Divya Goswami's delectable Kathak recital

Disciple of Pune based Yogini Gandhi in Kathak for fifteen years and currently studying under Lucknow gharana's Munna Shukla, Divya Goswami has imbibed the best of Kathak. In her exposition there is no razzle dazzle, though one sees speed but also restraint. What they say in Urdu/Hindi, the word shukun, which stands for pleasurable quietude, is seen in Divya's dance.

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