Saturday, 4 July 2020

Thadhiginathom: Part 1 - Zakir Diary

I was born in the village of Thurinjipatti in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. A village so remote and obscure but idyllic and blessed with natural resources. Situated on the foothills of Yerkadu, its picturesque beauty seemed straight out of a movie. The village benefitted from the plentiful rainfall on the hills which provided for an abundance of good drinking water in the wells, a constant supply of fish in the canals, bountiful harvests in the fields, and healthy cattle herds to roam.

A majority of the village’s residents belonged to the communities of Kounder, scheduled castes, Muslims, and Oriya speaking Boyar. They each had dedicated places of worship and their traditional ways of worshiping. There were not more than a hundred and fifty to two hundred households in the small village. In addition, the Nayakkar community made up a small minority of no more than four or five households.

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The contribution of Kathak exponents Dr. Puru Dadheech and Vibha Dadheech - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

In the world of classical Kathak, the names of Dr. Puru Dadheech and his wife Vibha Dadheech's names are taken with great respect. Being self effacing by temperament and low profile, they were not known to other classical dance exponents and gurus. However, in Madhya Pradesh Kathak world they are legends.

Before Covid 19, in February in Mumbai, Dr. Sandhya Purecha, while celebrating centenary of Acharya Parvati Kumar, had arranged a special series of lectures by Dr. Puru Dadheech on Natyashastra and Kathak. This was for the first time ever that such a series was arranged at Bharata College, where a special course on classical Kathak and Natyashastra has been finalized and is offered as a course. I happened to attend Dr. Dadheech's lectures and as we were staying in the same hotel, I sought appointment with him to learn more about his career and the course. Of course, I had known about the couple as both had performed at Kal Ke Kalakar festival at C. J. Hall in Mumbai for Sur Singar Samsad.

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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Anita says...July 2020

We dance...
to breathe, to bring the soul to the fore, to be free
to remember, to experience, to imagine, to connect, to share
to include all and leave none, to travel together, to persevere
to lift each other's spirit, to realise possibilities, to transcend boundaries
to inhabit spaces beyond the body, to manifest the extraordinary
to stand in the present and reach out to the future, to conjure the unknown
to be proud in our bodies, to coalesce all parts of our being into one
to wear eyes and ears all over our bodies, to welcome all colours and sounds
to reach the centre from the periphery
We dance to feel alive!
Stand up for dance! Stand up for all!

- Jayachandran Palazhy (Founder, Artistic Director, Attakkalari)

Another month passes. Touch is out. Distancing is in. Tempers run rampant. Patience runs thin. The body passes into numbness, no matter how hard we try to find a rhythm and a routine. Television is a cannibal, feeding on carcasses of dead ideas. In small cozy WhatsApp groups, the elite discuss "serious" issues and weigh in on life and death matters while sipping a "garam chai", filter coffee or a chilled Chardonnay - with coordinated designer masks of course!

How much longer can we continue to hope that things will resume as they were for the live arts? How fervently can we pray for the world to resume its chaotic but recognizable patterns? How many more appeals can we encounter without withering into cynical ennui? For those of us who have donated, supported, purchased and encouraged performers, crafts persons, weavers and creative people across all spectrums, the endless litany of woes does not seem to have a finish line.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Article - Rainbow Rasa

Narthaki is delighted to share the voices of three artistes who speak from the heart about their dance and their life choices.

- Gerard Samuel, Professor of Dance, University of Cape Town and the very first Tamil/"Black" professional Ballet dancer in South Africa

- Kiran Rajagopalan, Bharatanatyam dancer from New York City

- Cameron Shanolin Govender, a makeup artiste and Bharatanatyam dancer in Durban, South Africa

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Monday, 29 June 2020

An audio-video-choreo trio - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Among the plethora of online products let loose in the current depressing situation of enforced isolation and solitude, Within... from Within stands out with its excellence. Produced by Aditi Mangaldas and Drishtikon Foundation - well known for their prowess in innovative Kathak - in collaboration with Raw Mango and #ArtMatters / Teamwork Arts, versatility is writ large on every frame of the production, both in terms of choreographic imagination and the brilliance of the audio-visual technology at the dancers' disposal. Brought out in a highly laudatory effort of fund-raising for distressed artistes, the outcome is entirely satisfactory both from aesthetic as well as technical points of view.

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Friday, 26 June 2020

Book Review - 'Mohiniyattam: Its Art and Aesthetics' by Bharati Shivaji - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Shubhi Publications, 479, Sector 14, Gurugram 122 001, Haryana, India
Revised Edition 2020 / Price not stated
Foreword by Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay, Photos by Avinash Pasricha

The present volume on 'Mohiniyattam: Its Art and Aesthetics' by Bharati Shivaji, a celebrated exponent of Mohini Attam, takes the reader to those early years when there were no takers for this dance form of Kerala. At the suggestion of Kamala Devi, Bharati undertook not only rigorous training in Mohini Attam (I prefer to spell it as Mohini Attam instead Mohiniyattam) but also did extensive research by visiting various parts of Kerala and contributed to the revival and further exposure to this near extinct dance form. Kamala Devi arranged for a financial grant for this project from the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

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Thursday, 25 June 2020

Article - Sanctity of the term 'Guru' in Sattriya parlance - Meenakshi Medhi

Some profound moments in life make you think and introspect. During one of my performances, the organizers added the prefix Guru to my name in the banners and invites; it somehow did not feel right and upsets me till today. Many a time, I have also been asked by my students why they should not address me as a Guru. I never had a definitive answer. I feel that the word Guru has great sanctity. It also may have stemmed from my experience with all the great exponents of the dance forms. I have not seen anyone address himself as a Guru.

The thought remained with me and hence the first thing I did was Google. I was not satisfied and hence I referred to my Adhyapak and elders who had a deep-rooted link to our Sattriya tradition and the revered scriptures that we as practitioners follow. After a lot of discussions, deliberations and reading a lot of texts, here is what I could come up with for my justification to be called an Adhyapika.

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