Saturday 27 August 2011

Mangalore Diary: In praise of senior Bharatanatyam exponent Jayalakshmi Alva - Dr. Sunil Kothari

After her marriage, Jayalakshmi Alva moved to Mumbai from Ahmedabad (where she taught at Darpana) teaching several young dancers at Bhulabhai Institute including Sonal Mansingh (nee Pakvasa) and Maya Kulkarni. I used to attend her classes. Thanks to Prof. Mohan Khokar who had informed me about her being a disciple of Guru Dandayudhapani Pillai, her solid training and brilliant nattuvangam, I enjoyed meeting her and learning more about Kuravanji, dance-drama form, and her method of training young dancers without any compromise. She was quite strict, but also affectionate and proud of what she had inherited as art from her mentor.

Jayaben used to conduct nattuvangam for Sonal and Maya and ah, what riyaz they used to do. Bhulabhai Institute at that time was the meeting place of Pandit Ravi Shankar, painters MF Hussain, Dashrath Patel, Gaitonde and others. Soli Batliwala, trustee of Bhulabhai Institute, assisted dancers, musicians and painters. Can you believe, the institute used to charge painters rupee one only per day as rent for letting them use the studios there! Dancers practiced downstairs. The terrace theatre had performances of dance and music. Those were the halcyon days in Mumbai for performing arts. 

Roses & Thorns - Regarding some fake teachers - A concerned parent

My daughter took Bharatanatyam lessons from this teacher. She claimed to have learned dance from someone in Kerala. The classes went ok. But when my daughter started performing we got comments like the style, poses and the mudras were all wrong. This went on for some time, because we couldn't or didn’t know what to do. We are not from the dance background.

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Monday 22 August 2011

General posting - August 2011

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Narthaki Teram

The Chandrasekhars - Lalitha Venkat

CV Chandrasekhar is a multi-faceted personality being a dancer, choreographer, researcher, musician, academician, composer and highly acclaimed teacher of Bharatanatyam.  He has been performing for the past six decades in India and all over the globe and is invited by many dancers the world over to teach and to choreograph.  His presentation of Bharatanatyam technique is at its finest and continues to be an inspiration for all dancers.  He has a number of music and dance compositions to his credit and his dance dramas have been highly acclaimed for their individuality and innovative approach.  

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Sunday 14 August 2011

The Mohan Khokar Dance Collection A century of Indian dance: 1901-2000 - Dr. Sunil Kothari

At the Habitat Gallery, New Delhi, this unique exhibition was mounted by Ashish Khokar, son of late Prof Mohan Khokar from 17th till 24th July 2011. It was inaugurated by Dr. Karan Singh, President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, which had sponsored it and they have published a catalogue, edited by Ashish Khokar which indeed is a collector’s item. As a matter of fact, after the exhibition is over one browses through the catalogue again and again and relishes the rare photographs and several items which constitute Mohan Khokar’s mind-boggling collection. Several dignitaries participated in inaugurating several galleries as devised by Ashish and a veritable ‘who is who ‘of Indian dance attended the opening which indeed spoke volumes for dancers’ and aficionados’ affection for Mohan Khokar and respect for his efforts to document the history of Indian dance dating back to 1850!

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Wednesday 10 August 2011

Roses & Thorns - Bharatanatyam for sale - Concerned Artists from India and North America

There is a disturbing and growing trend of exploiting Bharatanatyam artists from India when they come to teach in North America. We have heard of several incidents when the artist from India discusses the terms of the teaching work involved and the amount to be paid over the phone with teachers of Bharatanatyam located in the US and in Canada. Sadly enough, the verbally agreed upon terms are often violated in terms of the artists from India being made to work inordinately long hours, and often held in limbo without any payment at all until the end of their time with a specific teacher. Worse still, at times, the US or Canada-based teachers back out of the payment altogether citing that the artist’s work was not satisfactory; this is often articulated only after the India based artist has provided much time, energy and labor with two to three weeks of teaching.
To that effect, in consultation with legal counsel, we suggest a set of “best practices” that both artists and teachers who hire them would be well advised to.....

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