Friday 28 December 2012

Dhauli - Kalinga Mahotsav 2012 - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Peace Pagoda at Dhauli, Bhubaneswar, was the venue of the festival under review. No sooner did the Konark Dance Festival conclude, in its wake came this unique five day Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav from 10th to 14th December. It had started in the year 2003 and has by now in its 9th edition, acquired such a reputation that all roads led to Dhauli peace pagoda every night. It was started by Italian dancer Ileana Citaristi under the very pagoda and was confined to martial arts. I had attended two festivals. Later on, late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan with his ‘unlimited dreams’ carried on the tradition. After his demise his disciple, renowned Odissi exponent, choreographer, guru, administrator, Aruna Mohanty and her Orissa Dance Academy have with the Dept of Tourism and Culture, Govt. of Odisha, taken over the organization, including Martial Arts Festival within the fold of Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav. The festival has now acquired a multi dimension format. 

 Read the review in the site

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Konark Dance Festival 2012 - Dr. Sunil Kothari

The festive mood
When we arrived at Konark from Bhubaneswar, what we saw was indeed a festive mood. Right from the various colourful  decorations on several trees leading to the venue and to the entrance of Yatri Niwas where an exhibition of paintings was mounted on the lawns, the huge posters announcing Konark Dance Festival 2012, the music played by the mahuri and nagada players to the presentation of folders about Konark Dance Festival and Tourism, we could see that the man behind the festival had taken pains giving attention to minutest details, leaving no stone unturned, to make the visitors feel that they had come ‘to the land of festivals.’ Under his passionate zeal and a commendable ability to get all involved in mounting the festival, the principal secretary, Dept of Culture and Tourism. Mr. A.K. Tripathy has left his signature on the festival.

The group of artistes including Aruna Mohanty (Odissi exponent and Vice President of Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi), Ratikant Mohapatra (guru, performer and son of legendary Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra), his associate Deviprasad Mishra aka Tikki, Sangeeta Mahapatra (Reader in vocal music at the newly established Utkal University of Culture), Ram Hari Das (musician and Director of GKMORC, Professor in Music at Utkal University of Culture), were in charge of the smooth running of the festival. From exquisite lighting, seating arrangements, sound system, clean and artistic vast stage, with magnificent view of the tower of Konark temple, Dr. Mrityunjay Rath, the ace compere in Odiya language and celebrated compere Sadhna Shrivastav with her vast experience for nearly three decades, the highly professional approach no wonder places Konark Dance Festival in the international category! 

Read the review in the site

Sunday 9 December 2012

Article - Role and function of dance: Historical context (Part 2) - Dr. Anonna Guha

(Excerpt from the Phd thesis ‘Dance in the urban culture’ under the guidance of Dr. Sharit Bhowmik.)

Indian context

The historical background of dance in India has to be understood and comprehended in its particular context. Since this research studies Indian dance and dancers in the urban scenario, an in-depth knowledge about Indian dances with their historical setting will be important in dealing with its current picture.

For the sake of clarity, I will divide the analysis of Indian dances into two categories.

1) presentational

2) participational (IED Vol 3, 1998: 455)

The first category would include the classical dances – dance as an art form - while the second would cover folk, tribal / ritual / traditional dances. The historical context, function and role of both may have to be understood distinctly though there would be overlapping areas. (The English word ‘classical’ is used primarily as a translation of the Sanskrit ‘
sastriya’ (also called marga) and indicated that a dance tradition has a relatively highly developed technique and theory of movement that relate to theoretical texts of the earlier period known as sastras like the Natyashastra. The folk or rural category in Indian tradition is called desi, provincial or rural.

Read the article in the site

Saturday 8 December 2012

Profile - Parwati Dutta: Following the heart - Padma Jayaraj

I saw her amidst dance students assembled for a workshop on Kathak, sponsored by the Sangeet Nataka Akademi, Kerala, in Thrissur. She was distinguishing different dance forms by showing just the neck movements, in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Odissi as a unit of gestural vocabulary.

“Dance is visual poetry,” she painted with her hands in the air, colored with the emotions on her face. Her knowledge of the aesthetics of the wide variety of dance forms found in India was impressive. Parwati Dutta introduced herself to the students as the daughter of a Punjabi mother and Bengali father, who was fortunate enough to spend her childhood in a neighborhood in Kolkata and then in Bhopal where many south Indians lived. Her exposure to a multicultural life, of colorful festivities in an impressionable period must have shaped her formative years.

Read the profile in the site

Thursday 6 December 2012

Sattriya Dances: 12th Nritya Parva Festival at Guwahati - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Established in 2008 as a Project under Sangeet Natak Akademi, Sattriya Kendra, Guwahati, has been carrying on the celebration of annual Nritya Parva since then. With Sattriya dance form of Assam getting recognition in 2000 as the 8th classical dance form on par with other classical dance forms, there has been a gradual stream of young boys and girls studying Sattriya and performing it regularly within Assam and also outside Assam in major metropolitan cities in India and some of them have also been performing abroad.

The 12th edition for four days from 15th till 18th November 2012 saw various dancers including group dances of Gayan Bayan from traditional Sattras (monasteries) from different parts of Assam performing at Rabindra Bhawan in the evening. Each participant is allotted 30 minutes and by 8pm the program is over. Raju Das, project secretary, with recommendations of the  committee members of Sattriya Kendra, makes selection of artistes representing solos, duets, trios and group performances, which cover the range of Sattriya dance corpus. The Nritya Parva has been instituted since 2000 to bring to Guwahati, artistes from other cities and monasteries. Now the festival has acquired a prestigious status and showcases established and also up and coming artistes. The festival under review was inaugurated by Lalit Chandra Ojha from Mangadoi, Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee and Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Fellow senior guru for Ojapali dances. 

Read the review in the site

Wednesday 5 December 2012

A tribute to veteran mentor Acharya Parvati Kumar - Vijay Shanker

Veteran mentor Acharya Parvati Kumar left for his heavenly abode on 29th November 2012 at his residence in Grant Road in Mumbai. He was 94 and leaves behind his wife Sumatai. A prayer meet was organised at his residence on 2nd December.

Acharya Parvati Kumar trained in Kathak, Kathakali and Bharatanatyam under respected masters. An eminent Bharatanatyam exponent and teacher, he was instrumental in shaping the professional career of several exponents. A stickler for perfection and a great task master, it was not easy to learn the basic 'adavus' or movements as he was very meticulous in his teaching. If you made a mistake, you would be made to do the same movement repeatedly. Only after this was learnt properly would the next step be taught. Hence, to learn the complete Bharatanatyam margam from him was a herculean task but ultimately, one not only became a fine exponent but also acquired knowledge of the theoretical aspects and significance of Indian classical dance which is rare as there are dancers who hardly have any theoretical knowledge.  

Read the tribute in the site

Thursday 29 November 2012

A tribute to legend Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma (Sept 9, 1935 - Nov 16, 2012) - Sridharachari

Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma, a legend of Kuchipudi dance, was admired, acknowledged, revered as one of the best when it came to portrayal of female impersonation roles to such perfection that it was hard for the audience to believe that the performer they saw and appreciated on stage was in fact a male. Such a towering personality is no more among us in the mortal world though his stupendous work is for the benefit of posterity. His portrayal of female roles in Kuchipudi Yakshaganams such as Usha in Usha Parinayam, Satyabhama in Bhama Kalapam, Deva Devi in Vipra Narayana, Mohini in Mohini Rukmangada, Sasirekha in Sasirekha Parinayam and Gollabhama in Gollakalapam,  have been much appreciated over a period spanning almost six decades.

Read the tribute in the site

Health Column - Warm-up for Bharatanatyam dancers - Veena Basavarajaiah

There are hardly any references to warm-ups in our mythology. We do not hear about Lord Krishna doing surya namaskars before dancing on Kalinga sarpa or Lord Nataraja doing a few Pilates before his thandava nritya nor do we hear about them suffering from any injuries for not having done any exercises before a performance. The divine beings who danced slaying demons or saving the world obviously never felt the need for a warm-up. Looks like they functioned on magical powers and could always rely on mortality. Unfortunately, for us mere mortals, a warm-up is quintessential before any performance, practice or rehearsal. 

Do Bharatanatyam dancers have to do a separate warm-up when they do so many adavus to prepare their body? This is an excellent question but, is the body really ready to start a
thattadavu from the word go? Thattadavu, though considered a very simple adavu is very demanding on the body. A warm-up then becomes essential to prepare the body for these adavus. It prepares the limbs for a good araimandi and ensures that the lower back, ankles and knees are ready for the impact of thattadavus. Besides, how many of us do adavus before a rehearsal or performance? A good warm-up before starting adavus will make sure that you do not have any cramps or aches while doing them. 

Read more in the site

Thursday 22 November 2012

Obit/Tribute - Remembering photographer Dhiraj Chawda - Dr. Sunil Kothari

When I started writing for The Illustrated Weekly of India in the early sixties, I met the celebrated photographer Dhiraj Chawda, whose photographs regularly appeared in the Times of India group of publications. 

I saw many colour photographs of the renowned Manipuri exponents, the Jhaveri Sisters. One of the photographs of Rasalila was interesting, taken during dancers performing, with the result that it looked blurred and one cannot see their faces. But the movement was caught magically.  

Read the tribute in the site

Sunday 18 November 2012

6th edition of Delhi International Arts Festival 2012 - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Once again, Delhi International Arts Festival (27th Oct - 10th Nov 2012) took Delhi by storm in its 6th edition with a grand gala opening at Purana Quila on 27th October  when under the title of Shared Culture-The Sufi lineage, the Qawwal from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan performed together and the Whirling Dervish dancers from Turkey with their whirlings created magic. The old ramparts of the Purana Quila reverberated with the Qawwals’ lusty voices creating an amazing atmosphere.

Read the review in the site

Gati’s Ignite Festival of contemporary dance - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Gati presented the second edition of IGNITE from 31st October to 4th November 2012 in New Delhi. The festival aims to present dance in ways that carry it beyond the conventional theatre space and re-position it as an accessible and interactive art form.  

Read the review in the site

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Vriddhi - Rise Extraordinaire: Performances by young dancers - Dr. Sunil Kothari

The Kuchipudi Dance Academy, New Delhi, under the initiative of Vedabrata Rao, son of celebrated dancing couple Guru Jaya Rama Rao and Vanashree Rama Rao, presented three young dancers from different styles on one platform, followed by that amazing group of physically challenged artists of Ability Unlimited of Guru Dr. Syed Sallauddin Pasha on 25th October 2012, at the packed Kamani Audience in the presence of a young crowd.

Vedabrata, 20, believes that the generation next must get involved with the classical arts and young performers. In a series titled ‘Vriddhi - rise extraordinaire,’ the Kuchipudi Dance Academy proposes to provide a platform to young dancers and in another welcome concept, of presentation of young musicians in a classical Carnatic and Hindustani music concert.

Read the review in the site

Monday 5 November 2012

Article - Role and function of dance: Historical context (Part 1) - Dr. Anonna Guha

Dance is an expression of self and emotion. It involves physicality of movement both bodily and facial. For centuries, dance has been a part of various cultures – from primitive man to the modern urban individual. Right from celebrating marriage, birth, to warding off evil and pacifying the supernatural, dance has been a mode to fulfill various  desires and aspirations. Dance to a large extent has been documented in anthropology though it has been a neglected area as far as Sociology is concerned. Anthropologists have studied dance and society of various cultures in the world.

Dance is a product of society and while interacting with it can trace its roots to several centuries. The role and portrayal of dance has to be seen and understood in the context of the various cultures they belong to. Dance is believed to be therapeutic, functioning as a safety valve. Right from dealing with the fear of the unknown, to creating a special place as an art form, dance has played different roles and served diverse purposes. The relation between dance and society would be mutual: both drawing from each other. Society with its physical element, diffusion, development of language and culture forms the basis of dance. Dance on the other hand creates images, stories and spreads messages of society. Society in turn internalises its lessons of content and pleasure from dance. 

Read the article in the site 

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Interview - Conference on Epic Women: Participants speak - Lalitha Venkat

Kartik Fine Arts in association with Arangham Trust presents EPIC WOMEN, a conclave of talks, presentations and performances focusing on iconic women in myth, history, literature and life, from December 20 to 23, 2012 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Chennai. The speakers and performers share their thoughts about their presentations.

Read the interview in the site

Monday 29 October 2012

Interview - Mayuri Upadhya: A big milestone for Nritarutya - Lalitha Venkat

Mayuri Upadhya, Artistic Director of Bangalore based Indian contemporary dance company Nritarutya, shares her experience of choreographing a mega production for superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s 70th birthday celebrations in Mumbai on October 10, 2012. A team of 80 dancers led by Mayuri Upadhya, performed to the tunes of the legendary poem “Madhushala” written by Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan and sung by Amitabh Bachchan himself.

Read the interview in the site

Saturday 27 October 2012

Ramayana: A dramatic presentation of the great Indian epic - Dr. Sunil Kothari

The genesis of Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra (SBKK) can be traced to a small sponsoring body Jhankar, set up in 1947. The Kendra formally came into existence in 1952. Since then it has grown and become a premier cultural institution of India, with an active focus on the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage and the promotion of its performing arts. The Kendra maintains a permanent dance-drama group whose objective it is to enshrine and present, as aesthetically as possible, the best of India’s religion, mythology and folklore.

The Ramlila (now titled as Ram), with over 2000 performances in India and abroad, is one of its major achievements. Shobha Deepak Singh, the dynamic director of the Kendra, has conceived, produced and directed the present Ram dance-drama, which is a runaway success and enthralls various sections of the society.  From the children, young students, parents and senior citizens, the crowds watch it unfolding with interest, even when the 'katha vastu' is familiar to most of us. It is a spectacular production and from the start to finish, it engages one in each sequence, so well planned is its presentation.

Read the review in the site

Visiting Surat in South Gujarat - Dr. Sunil Kothari

I was away in Guwahati attending the Book Fair organized by Publication Board, Assam, but returned to honour my commitment and meet the faculty members of the two year old college of performing arts with graduate programs in dance, drama and music. The Chairman of SCOPA, Rajanikant Marfatia, my host, was keen on my interacting with the students as well as with other officers of the college for suggestions on developing the course and the difficulties institutions face when they start courses in performing arts. Rajanikant Marfatia is a dynamic person, past President of The South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Surat, Chairman of SCOPA and connected with Reliance Industries Ltd, a visionary who did not leave any stone unturned to see that Surat had an airport and connected with Delhi and Mumbai. When I arrived by early morning flight at Surat and saw the svelte new airport, I was much impressed. Leave alone the efforts for placing Surat on air route, Rajanikant bhai’s interest in educational activities are very deep and I realized that lack of money or financial assistance are not major issues. The enlightened leaders and social workers in Surat have been donating funds. And today Surat with its progress has acquired a reputation with UNESCO as the major eighth city of India. 

Read the article in the site

Sunday 14 October 2012

Geeta Chandran pays tribute to Gandhiji in ‘Gandhi: Warp and Weft’ - Dr. Sunil Kothari

On the occasion of the143rd birth anniversary of Gandhiji, Geeta Chandran presented her new choreographic work ‘Gandhi: Warp and Weft’ at Chinmayananda Auditorium on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti. A full house attended the performance and was in for an unusual presentation in dance. Geeta used classical Bharatanatyam vocabulary, free dance movements and also attempted abstract concepts imaginatively.

Dividing the presentation into six segments she began with Rama stuti rendered melodiously with hastabhinaya and expressions appropriate to the lyric and performed with subtle nuances. Depicting Rama as God whom Hanuman, opening his heart showed he resides there, Rama who killed Kumbhakarna, Ravana, had pattabhisheka when he returned to Ayodhya after exile in forest and so on, she indicated Gandhiji’s religious and spiritual synergy to his devotion to Lord Rama.                                          

Then Geeta showed shringara, love suggesting Gandhiji and Kasturba’s love play, later on Gandhiji’s decision to observe abstinence, and she touched upon multiple faiths, Hindu prayers and Muslim namaz, with small cameos, extending narration to several other issues.

Read the review in the site

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Article - My experience at the Olympics - Seema Menon

London 2012 Olympics, a momentous occasion for me and an abiding memory for life. After enjoying all previous Olympics vicariously in front of the couch, I was thrilled to be selected to perform at the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in November last year. I had never imagined I would participate in an Olympic ceremony when I moved to London almost 7 years back from Mumbai. I had always wanted to learn a musical instrument but couldn't follow through in my younger days and what better opportunity than to play the "drums" in the Industrial Revolution section "Pandemonium" under the direction of Danny Boyle at the Olympics! To perceive that it was such an iconic event and watched by millions gave me sufficient gusto to pursue the rehearsals with absolute diligence.

We began as novices, beating the plastic-buckets-modified-drums with varying rhythms and not once were the drumming teachers peeved at us. Instead, at all times, they provided great leadership and patience to galvanise this 1000 strong team of drummer volunteers from various backgrounds. Amidst all my initial doubts and anxieties, I was astonished that a project of this gargantuan nature could be so gently managed at the same time preserving the fun aspect whilst training. My biggest challenge was to manage my work schedule and family front but the support from all quarters and the encouraging words to participate in this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity kept me going. 

Read the article in the site 

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Profile/Tribute - Living a dream and dreaming a life; Remembering Guru Gangadhar Pradhan - Kedar Mishra

His career as a dancer and dance teacher was not an ordinary one. He was the leader and path finder of second generation Odissi. As a student he learnt the art forms from his elders, but as a creator he started weaving his own dream. To set a stylistic rupture from the very established streams of the great masters was not an easy task. He took the challenge and started composing on his own. His masterpiece Konark Kanti, Shiva Panchaka, many Ashtapadis from Geeta Govinda, Nava Rasa, Ashtanayika... the list is quite long and refreshingly original. He imbibed styles of three major gurus and created his own style of expression. Emphasizing more on the finer elements of body he restructured the movements, stepping and style of expressions. He was a wonderful communicator and explicit chronicler of textual details in group formation.

People know him as a brilliant choreographer, teacher and great organizer. Personally, I have seen him performing on and off the stage many a time. The memory of his mesmerizing performance as a Gotipua, at the age of 55, is still fresh in my mind. That was an exclusive lucky show for me and few of my friends. Prior to his untimely death, Guruji was involved with a grand ambitious project to document all kinds of folk dance forms of Odisha. He invited all senior Gotipua gurus to participate in a documentation camp and luckily I got an invitation from him to watch the camp. One by one, seniors like Birabar Sahu, Maguni Das, Gobinda Pala and many others spoke and demonstrated the raw style and techniques of Gotipuas. Finally came a frail looking, darker old man. He was introduced to us as Guru Bhagirathi Mohapatra, a contemporary of Gangadhar Pradhan.
Sakhi mu laje mali...mana karuthila kimpa mu yamuna ku gali lo... that was the song. Describing the blissful embarrassment of a Gopika at the bathing ghat and her erotic expressions for Krishna were enacted in a typical desi manner and the body kinetic of the man was superb. After Bhagirathi Mohapatra’s performance, I requested Ganga sir to perform the same abhinaya and to show us the transformation process from desi to margi. And Guruji transformed into a young, love sick Gopika and what a performance that was!!

Read the profile in the site

Saturday 6 October 2012

Dance India Asia Pacific Festival, Singapore - Dr. Sunil Kothari

When I learnt that Dance India from Milapfest in UK was becoming a part of Dance India Asia Pacific, and I was to visit Singapore on my way to Kuala Lumpur, I decided to stop over in Singapore for three nights before going to attend Ramli Ibrahim’s Tarikan Dance Festival on 2nd September onwards.

I am glad I decided to do so, as Guru Neila Satyalingam, the former Kalakshetra alumnus and a pioneer Bharatanatyam dancer, director of Apsaras Arts, who has trained a generation of dancers in Singapore, was a partner of Milapfest for this unique collaboration and bringing top dancers to give workshops and perform for young Singapore dancers. My dynamic friend Aravinth Kumarasamy, a versatile musician, veena player, music composer, nattuvangam artiste and classical dancer, closely associated with Apsaras Arts, welcomed me and arranged for my talk on my writing books on Indian classical dance, at Goodman Arts Centre on 1st September 2012. 

Read the review in the site

Friday 5 October 2012

Article - Non-violence and dancers - Madhavi Puranam

“In necessary things - unity; in doubtful things - liberty; in all things - charity.”

Nothing could describe more aptly the need of classical dance today, than Richard Baxter's words as quoted above.

Unity, tolerance, a healthy competition (if at all artists must compete) and above all a collective vision seems to be the need of the hour of the classical dancers/teachers/students.

Bitter rivalries between dancers and gurus which pass on through their students are not new to the minuscule world of classical dance. Dance scholars/researchers today do not see eye to eye with dancers; colleagues in dance departments at universities and institutions do not work in cooperation; and the students suffer the lack of role models in the mediocre departments. Various universities do not cooperate to work for a common vision; musicians and dancers no longer form a progressive team; the divides are too many and too deep to bridge at times.

The pursuit of the classical arts demands a rigorous discipline from the practitioners. Maybe, it also seeks from the practitioners, liberty in thought and pursuit of liberty through discovery of self. 

Read the article in the site

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Anita Ratnam presented AVANI...A HANDFUL OF DUST-September 15 & 16, 2012 Chennai

September 15 & 16, 2012 Chennai
Anita Ratnam presented AVANI...A HANDFUL OF DUST a dance theatre presentation. The choreography, music and film design draw inspiration from Tagore’s poetry and its inflections, focusing on its nuances and subtleties. The First Handful – Dust, Second Handful – Words, Third Handful – Flowers, Fourth Handful – Leaves and Fifth Handful – Gold, uses a combination of contemporary and classical soundscapes, spoken text. The choreography draws upon diverse vocabularies such as Kathakali, Bharatanatyam, Butoh, meditative movement, rehearsed improvisations and theatrical interventions.
At: Alliance Francaise, Chennai, 7.15pm

Reviews -

View slide show

Saturday 29 September 2012

Article - Traditions in Mohiniyattam: A closer look - Dr. Neena Prasad

A Bani is the result of a creative process where a mind is engaged in reconstructing an art discipline to a certain aesthetic elevation by breaking the existing norms akin to a system practiced. The conceived mind here, leads to a customization of a whole new system of stylization. This pursuit of the mind may be subjective for others at that time of conception, but it will certainly lead to becoming a milestone for the art form itself, through successful performances of practitioners. Here, a Bani gets established. The established Bani carries a distinct identity that can be traced based on the social background and geographic location.

In a more specific sense, a
Bani can be understood as the discipline applied on the art form in terms of practice. To cite an example in the Carnatic music tradition, a Bani or a school may be identified either based on the richness in Bhava, or when it is more inclined towards exploring the laya vyavahara, or when the focus is concentrated on intricately webbing a raga alapana while rendering a kirtana. For ex. in Veena Dhanammal Bani, we will see the elaborate exploration of raga along with interludes of laya, an Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar school had more emphasis laid on the laya aspects than on raga alapana. Or later, in a Semmangudi school – the rendition of a kirthana strictly maintained a pad’athi in its gamakas that was passed on generation after generation, while in a Madurai Mani Iyer’s school, the rendition of kirtanas allowed a certain artistic freedom which itself can be called a pad’athi. The above examples explain different Bani-s(schools) with regard to musical pedagogies. Similarly, for dance forms, the pedagogical differences in imbibing the art form as a practice would be - the musical genre adopted by the nattuvanar-s, the characteristics of nritta and nritya elements in the dance, the continuing signature of the founder (passed down) in the tradition; all put together become the yardstick in defining a school.

Read the article in the site

Article - Theatre for holistic development - Ambika Kameshwar

Ever since I was a little girl I was exposed to the wonderful art forms of dance and music.  I always got so much from them that I believed strongly in dance and music being far more than ‘merely’ performing arts. Structured dance and music and their performance is, I believed, and believe, only a part of the whole.  For me, in the movement of the trees, the leap of the deer, the prancing of the waves, in the laughter of children, in the tears of the afflicted and expressions of the proud parent…In every single movement of the universe, there is dance and in every single sound there is music.

My belief would have remained a belief, but for god giving me opportunity after opportunity for reinforcing my belief and helping me structure dance, music and drama into a methodology that does not only result in performance but goes far deeper seeking and fulfilling every developmental need of an individual. From 1982, when I started working with the visually impaired children at Ramana Maharishi Academy for the blind, Bangalore and in 1985 when I volunteered to teach dance and music to children of Spastic Society of India (now Vidya Sagar) till I started Rasa – Ramana Sunritya Aalaya in 1989, I found fulfillment in structuring and documenting the new methodology of holistic self development which I first called C.M.E. (Creative Movement Education) and later changed the term to T.H.D (Theatre for Holistic Development) for it covered the scope of the methodology more fully. 

Read the article in the site

Monday 24 September 2012

Samarpana: First edition of The Asian Festival of classical dance, Singapore - Dr. Sunil Kothari

The first edition of a welcome international dance festival in Singapore aiming at covering Asian classical dances was flagged off with an interesting performance by Priyadarsini Govind, one of the leading lights of India’s Bharatanatyam performers and the enfant terrible of Carnatic music, vocalist TM Krishna from Chennai. Generally, Carnatic vocalists do not sing for a dance recital. But here are two vastly gifted dancer and musician of present generation who have boldly attempted to explore classical dance and music together, none trying to upstage each other, but work together with a deep understanding of the two forms, with mutual respect. And the artistic experience has been something which one relishes with great delight, going along with them with curiosity and its successful denouement.

All this and many other concepts were offered on a silver platter by Singapore based renowned Bharatanatyam exponent Gayatri  Sriram, whose Shrutilaya institute was the producer of the festival organized  by  Jyoti Ramesh, whose passion for dance, music and performing arts has found an ideal expression in event management.  Presenting sponsor was the Bank of Singapore (BSi), in collaboration with the Jade group, and with support from various agencies, the three day festival from 14th till 16th September 2012 at The University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore (NUS), was a runaway success. 

Read the review in the site

Sunday 23 September 2012

Panjara and She Ra premiere at Tarikan Dance Festival - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Sutra Foundation’s Tarikan Dance Festival 2102 featured two new choreographic works  under the title ‘Transfigurations’: ‘Panjara’ choreographed by Sutra’s Rathimalar Govindarajoo and ‘She Ra’ choreographed by Dutch born Kalpana Raghuraman (Korzo Theatre, The Hague). I caught up with the last performance of these two works on 2nd September 2012 at KLPac Studio 2 at Kuala Lumpur, managing to arrive from Singapore in time. 

Ramli Ibrahim had informed me that these two works examine myths - the archetypes of mythology and how their avatars perpetuate these in our contemporary psyches in various transfigurations. Ramli’s and Sutra Foundation’s creative journeys are not limited to the traditional, classical Indian dance forms. In his early youth, Ramli had performed in Sydney Dance Company at Sydney Opera House in modern choreographic works of Graeme Murphy, a leading choreographer from Australia. Poppy, choreographed by Graeme featured him in a decadent tango, a multi media dance theatre based on the life and times of Jean Cocteau. That was in 1978. Ramli has since then choreographed and performed several contemporary works within Malaysia and abroad.


Read the review in the site

Saturday 22 September 2012

A fragrant garland of Pallavis - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Watching five pallavis in different ragas, of legendary gurus like Deba Prasad Das, Pankaj Charan Das, Kelucharan Mohapatra and the younger gurus like Durgacharan Ranbir and Gajendra Panda, by disciples of Deba Prasad Das was an exhilarating experience at Panggung Exsperimen Theatre, University of Malaya, on 7th September 2012, as a part of Ramli Ibrahim’s Sutra Foundation’s Tarikan Dance Festival 2012.

Like a jeweler, RamIi has redesigned these pallavis with imagination investing them with newness and arresting beauty. These are rearranged for group composition by Guna and Ramli and they capture the attention of the audiences the moment the very first strain of musical instruments is heard. Sivarajah Natarajan’s set design, with back drop of patterned flowers and  arches, reminding one of the arch of Rani Gumpha cave sculpture, and exquisite, at times diffused and at times effulgent, lighting of various hues and colours, evoking different moods, and in consonance with music and movements takes one’s breath away. There is such wonderful rapport among the choreographers, the dancers and the lights designer, built over many years that the entire production from the word go to the end, mesmerizes the onlookers. 

Read the review in the site

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Article - Life cycle of a dance form - Nanditha Prabhu

Dance has been part of nature from the resurgence of life itself.  Dance has slowly and steadily evolved from mere expressions of joy and sorrow, to celebration of life, to exposition of rituals and belief systems, to evolution of human psyche.  When I was virtually traversing through this dance hierarchy, it was the most humbling experience to realise the expressions of great minds that have soared higher than the mundane existence and recreated and represented subtle truths through their evocative expressions.

Dance once was just the simple venting of one’s inner feelings which later became a medium of storytelling. It was an oral tradition unintentionally recording our history, culture and traditions. As human mind evolved, these expressions acquired new horizons and newer meanings, accentuating on theories of Rasa (aesthetics).  It became a gratification for the senses and akin to enlightenment for the soul. 

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Monday 17 September 2012

Interview - Dr. Ileana Citaristi: My karma is to break new ground - Lalitha Venkat

Italian by birth, Dr. Ileana Citaristi holds a Doctorate in Philosophy with a thesis on 'Psychoanalysis and eastern mythology.' She came to Indian dance after years of experience in the traditional as well as experimental theatre in Europe. An exponent of Odissi and Mayurbhanj Chhau, Ileana has made Odisha her home since 1979.  She learnt Mayurbhanj Chhau under the guidance of Guru Hari Nayak, obtaining the title of ‘Acharya’ from the Sangeet Mahavidyalya of Bhubaneswar in Orissa. A senior disciple of Odissi Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, she founded Art Vision in 1996 with a group of artistes belonging to different disciplines such as dance, music, painting and literature to share creative ideas. One such is Kalinga Mahotsav, a national festival for martial arts organized with Odisha Tourism Department at Dhauli Stupa from 2003.

The Art Vision Academy conducts classes in Odissi and Chhau. The performing unit has performed in many prestigious conferences and festivals in India and overseas. Ileana Citaristi’s contributions, besides the many performances and lec-dems include articles on Oriya culture published in Indian and foreign magazines, research work for film documentaries on Odissi and Chhau dances and practical dance workshops for dancers and theatre workers which she regularly conducts on invitation from different institutions in India and abroad.

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Saturday 8 September 2012

Obit/tribute - Guru Gopalakrishnan no more - Ashish Khokar

He desired he either pass away on stage, like his guru, the great Gopinath, or in sleep. He did pass away peacefully in his sleep, on Teacher’s Day, 5th September 2012 in Chennai.

Born on April 9, 1926 in Kodungallur, this scion of Nanthialath and Changaradi tharavads (households) was destined to take to dance. His parents Nanthialath Madhava Menon and Changaradi Ammalu Amma let him pursue his passion, which was sparked by seeing T.R. Sundaram’s film ‘Balan’ in 1938.

He desired to learn Kathakali from the masters but chance brought him to Madras to be at the Gemini Studios and come in contact with the legendary Guru Gopinath, then based in Madras. In 1946, he joined the Natana Niketan dance school. Madras was then a very happening place for dance and films and many fortunes and fame were being made. Guru Gopinath was choreographing and dancing for many films, thus Gopalakrishnan got a firm foothold in the dance and film world. He was promoted to become lead dancer in Guru Gopinath’s troupe.

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Thursday 6 September 2012

Interview - Pt Jasraj: Music has universal appeal - Vijai Shanker

The living legend of Indian classical music, Pandit Jasraj needs no introduction. In honour of this unparalleled living legend, awards and titles have not only been created and bestowed upon him, but have also been instituted in his name. Endowed with a rich, soulful and sonorous voice, Pandit Jasraj’s singing is characterized by a harmonious blend of classic and opulent elements, projecting traditional music with an intense spiritual expression. This gives his music a very sublime emotional quality, touching the soul of the listener. This sensitivity together with classical approach, has given his singing a lyrical quality which is the quintessence of the Mewati style of singing. 

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Thursday 30 August 2012

Bengaluru Bonanza Nupura's Nitya Nritya Festival and a seminar - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Since this year, Lalitha Srinivasan, Director of Nupura, has changed the time frame of her annual Nitya Nritya Festival and a seminar from month of April to August. The Srinivasans conducted a five day festival from 1983 till 1999 for 16 long years. For various reasons they could not continue this unique national festival of dance in Bangalore. But as Mr. Srinivasan puts it, “Once again like the Phoenix bird rising from its own ashes, the festival has come back to life for the past four years.” It is true. In Bengaluru, in those years no other organization and even the Government of Karnataka had not visualized a national festival of dance on such a scale when in 1983, the first Nitya Nritya festival was organized.
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Wednesday 22 August 2012

Tribute - The King and the King Maker – Vempati Master! - Ramaa Bharadvaj

“The King is gone, long live the King!” – this famed proclamation is what bursts forth in my thought when I think of my guru Vempati Chinna Satyam.  And that he was!  A monarch of unparalleled distinction!  He has not only created a global empire for Kuchipudi but has also diligently trained thousands of dancers, both male and female, as heirs to carry on the legacy, many of whom are leading performers and teachers in the field of Kuchipudi today. That makes him both a king and a king-maker. 

It is ironic that he was named “Chinna” Satyam for there was nothing little or small about him, from his stately physical stature to his colossal accomplishments.  Many of his choreographies including the famed “puja dance” created as a tribute to Siddhendra Yogi have become staple of most Kuchipudi dancers today. A dreamer, an innovator, a visionary and a meticulous artist, he embodied both majesty and humility through his persona.  Here I share few of my teenage recollections of Vempati master and my training days at his famed Kuchipudi Arts Academy, Chennai. 

Sunday 19 August 2012

Interview - Mitra: A report and dialogue with Ramaa Bharadvaj - Bhavanvitha Venkatesh

On the 24th of June 2012, Visakha Music Academy in Visakhapatnam presented Ramaa Bharadvaj in a solo Bharatanatyam entitled ‘Mitra - Dance Hymn to Friendship’ at Kalabharathi auditorium. Mitra was based on a “celebration of amity, friendship and the divinity of life” with its core theme centered around the concept of “When God is your friend what is not possible.” This concept was depicted in ekaharya by Ramaa through an episode about Sudhama from Srimad Bhagavatham.

Mitra begins with the introduction of Sudhama, about his family experiencing the rigors of life in abject poverty. Sudhama and his wife see hope as they contemplate approaching childhood friend Krishna. But then, how could you go and visit a friend with nothing to offer? They realize that the best they can offer to their dear friend is just a few fistfuls of puffed rice; even that borrowed. Sudhama embarks on his journey. On reaching the palace however, he feels small in the presence of the other visitors carrying rich offerings.., but then he gets to visit his friend. Krishna’s affectionate welcome, happiness at the offering of the puffed rice, and the return of Sudhama to his residence now transformed into an astonishing grand manor are the incidents that happen before our eyes. Mitra ends with Sudhama walking towards divine light. With a friend like Lord Krishna, moksha is inevitable.  

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Monday 13 August 2012

Article - Shiva's Dance in Stone: Ananda Tandava, Bhujangalalita, Bhujangatrasa - Liesbeth Bennink with Kandhan, Jayakumar and Sankar Deekshithar

Nataraja or the Dancing Shiva is one of the best known and possibly most studied representations of the divine form within Hindu art. Shiva is pre-eminently the deity who expresses his divine being through dance. Although many different Tandavas or heroic dances are known from the tradition, the one called Ananda Tandava or Dance of Bliss is without doubt the one best known both for its artistic beauty and for its philosophical merit. The temple city of Chidambaram is especially associated with Shiva Nataraja who is the presiding deity of its great temple. Dancing with his right leg on the back of a dwarf, the left foot raised across in an elegant curve, and with four arms, the Nataraja represents the cosmic activities of Creation, Dissolution, Preservation, Concealment and Salvation.

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Sunday 12 August 2012

Banaras revisited - Dr. Sunil Kothari

At present in the universities where dance and music are taught at MA and Ph.D level, for the post of Readers and Professors the rules have been so framed, that traditional teachers are unable to meet them. With the result, if the lecturer has not acquired Ph. D, he cannot be promoted to the post of a reader and a professor. Also those who have received practical training in dance and have also cleared NET examination, but have not obtained Ph. D cannot be appointed to the post of a reader and a professor. An example of this conflict is seen at Hyderabad University in dance department, where Ramalinga Sastri is not being promoted as a Professor though his qualifications are above board. But he remains a reader on account of these rules. I think it is important that rules should be so framed which give enough space and scope for traditional teachers to get the posts of readers and professors. Today these posts have remained vacant in some universities.

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Interview - Pandit Ram Narayan: 100 colours of sarangi - Vijay Shanker

Pandit Ram Narayan's name is synonymous with the sarangi. He is credited for having propagated Indian classical music on the international level, especially European countries and is the pioneer in providing an individual status to the sarangi which was always used as an accompanying instrument. The 80 plus veteran maestro, whose contribution spans more than six decades shares his thoughts with us.

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Mothers by daughters - My mother Parvathi - Deepa Shivananda

Sharing a few episodes from my childhood...

Imagining Hema Malini and Vyjayanthimala when she was expecting me, Amma encouraged me to learn Bharatanatyam. It was in 1990, on Vijayadasami, that we started my dance class. “So you like dance,” my guru asked and I just nodded saying “yes” not realizing that Amma’s one basic interest and efforts would change the next 20 years of my life significantly and make me what I am today - a transformed young woman with a goal to realize the dream that my mother had initiated.

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Monday 6 August 2012

Obit/Tribute - My Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam - Lakshmi Mani

If I were to describe my Guru in one word, it would be PERFECTIONIST. An affectionate and caring person otherwise, he was a hard taskmaster, ready to correct us countless times till we got it right.  Early morning or late night, he would make us rehearse for hours, without him displaying any sign of exhaustion. Every nuance would have to be perfect, every movement graceful and fine. He would lay great emphasis on involvement, as opposed to just a set of mechanical movements. A fantastic performer, his choreography was matchless, never compromising on either aesthetics or technical brilliance. 

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Saturday 4 August 2012

Obit/Tribute - In praise of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam - Dr. Sunil Kothari

I am writing this obituary with a heavy heart. The news came around 10.45am in the morning when a seminar at National Gallery of Museum (NGMA), Bangalore, under the title Kala Vimarshana - Writing on the arts - was inaugurated. A large assembly of people, dancers, critics, musicians, scholars stood up observing silence for Master Garu’s departed soul. He was recovering since February and had passed through a critical stage being looked after by his wife, elder son Venkat, Ravi, all members of the family. Like a devoted son, Venkat left no stone unturned to serve his ailing father. I used to stay with Vempati Garu whenever I visited Chennai since last nine years. He treated me like his younger brother and looked after me during my month long stay in Chennai in December. 

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Tuesday 31 July 2012

Obit/Tribute - Kuchipudi Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam (Oct 15, 1929 - July 29, 2012)

Guru Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam dedicated his life to preserve, promote and propagate Kuchipudi in India and all over the world. A charismatic performer, a brilliant choreographer and an inspiring teacher, he has been largely responsible for the revival of Kuchipudi dance in post-independent India. Hence, the name Vempati Chinna Satyam has become synonymous with Kuchipudi, as one who put Kuchipudi dance on the world map. Along with Surya Rao, Andavilli Satyanarayana has authored a biography of Chinna Satyam.

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Friday 27 July 2012

Article - The feminine tradition of Andhra Natyam - Vijay Shanker

Dr. Nataraj Ramakrishna had dedicated his life towards the promotion and propagation of Andhra Natyam but it is disheartening to note that this dance style has not received the recognition it truly deserves. The contribution of Andhras towards the enrichment of dance is remarkable. It would be no exaggeration to state that there is no musical or dance performance without a Telugu song.

Andhra Natyam belongs to Andhra Pradesh and it enjoys a supreme place in the history of Indian dance. Known as the feminine tradition, it is more than two thousand years old and is enriched and embellished with bhava (expressions), raga (musical melody) and tala (rhythm). A combination of these three aspects can be called Bharatam, therefore Andhra Natyam can be called the Bharatanatyam of the Andhras. Unfortunately, Andhra Natyam does not enjoy international recognition like Bharatanatyam.

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Saturday 21 July 2012

Roses & Thorns - Who next? Or what next? Kalakshetra crisis: Blown out of proportion - V.P. Dhananjayan

‘Who is next’ is the question asked by everyone now.  The cry for and against is slowly dying since the human memory is short.  Tracing back the circumstances and traversing down memory lane on the issue of a true successor to Rukmini Devi ended up in the hurried appointment of Ms. Leela Samson six years ago.  She was quite reluctant to take the mettle then, since she had issues with the institution earlier and walked out of the campus never to return. 

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Thursday 19 July 2012

Interview - A B Balakondala Rao: Change is inevitable - Bhavanvitha Venkatesh

Kuchipudi Guru A B Balakondala Rao is known to her students, disciples, well-wishers as Balakka. She is one of the prominent disciples of Kuchipudi maestro Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam and runs Kuchipudi Kalaa Kendram in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. She started her dance at a very young age of eight years and it was all her determination that her father left her at the dance school, to stay back, go to school from the academy and most importantly learn dance as it happens in the traditional Guru-Sishya parampara manner.  She became a key faculty at the academy. Ravi Sankar Vempati, her master’s son learnt from Balakka. She participated in the many dance programs, projects and tours along with her guru.

Thereafter, she continued her dance without a break and founded Kuchipudi Kalaa Kendram after her marriage. The institute is now a world-renowned Kuchipudi school and has been continuously producing best talent year after year including Vidya, Aditya Brahmam etc.

Recently in the month of May 2012, she was awarded Kala Ratna by Government of Andhra Pradesh and I met her to congratulate her besides asking her opinion and thoughts about the award itself and present day Kuchipudi.

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Poem - Omniscient Rasika - Ashley Garcia

The sun is slow to rise,
I wake to the sounds of
Everlasting music,
Instruments of various kinds,
Sounds of
Prayers, chants, and singing,
Flutes, mridangams, and veenas,  
Nattuvangam, ankle bells, and stamping of feet,
The stretching of bodies,
I stretch alongside you daily,
Often times I stand back and watch you,
Dance, sing, and play an instrument or two
Dance and music
Entrap me with such ecstasy,
You are the very core
Of my happiness.
Time fades as the wind blows,
The sun is slow to set,
Alas, I am here watching as always,
Overlooking with such anticipation and fascination.
I fall asleep to the distant sounds of
Chatting, whispering, and laughter,
I am the omniscient rasika.
I am
The banyan tree.

US based Ashley is a student of Bharatanatyam. She loves writing poetry and learning dance.  Though she has never been to India, Ashley has penned this poem on the theme of Kalakshetra through the perspective of its famous banyan tree.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Profile - My beloved Vadyar Swamimalai K Rajarathnam Pillai - Sandhya Sree Athmakuri,

Perhaps I was one of his very few Telugu students, and perhaps the only one who had the great fortune of doing gurukulavasam with him.  Yes, I was one of the few privileged disciples who travelled all the way from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, for a period of 10+ years, stayed with Vadyar and was able to observe him up close.  I would watch with amusement as he would be deeply engrossed in watching any MGR movie on TV, when he would play with Nrithya (singing ‘jannakitta girrakitta” for her), Abhinaya or Rasika and even Aravind…all his favorite grandchildren at that time.  I watched in equal amazement as he took classes from 7 am in the morning through the evening, hour after hour, giving individual and absolute attention to each of his senior students.  I specially mention this because I have often seen many teachers make their senior students take class for the average students and give their personal and privileged attention only to the good students. But not Vadyar… whatever be the capabilities of the student, he took class for them with the same commitment and passion.  Not just classes but the performances of all students, irrespective of their performance caliber were also conducted with the same fervor.  That he customized his choreography to match the physique and artistic potential of each of his students, is a known fact in the world of Bharatanatyam.

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Sunday 8 July 2012

Interview - Happy to serve society as a musician: Pt Balkrishna Iyer - Vijay Shanker

Hailing from a family of music lovers and practitioners, Pandit Balkrishna Iyer has been a professional tabla maestro for more than three decades, with performances around the globe. Besides solo tabla concerts, Balkrishna Iyer has also accompanied top musicians for various prestigious music festivals. Besides the tussle with renowned vocalist Kishori Amonkar, Balkrishna also talks about his successful musical journey and the establishment of the Iyer Foundation for the welfare of artistes and for the promotion of classical arts.  

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Saturday 7 July 2012

Obit/Tribute - Remembering Odissi Guru Harekrushna Behera - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Harekrushna was born in village Buani of Odisha’s Balasore District in 1938. He was trained in art of gotipua dance from the young age of eight by Ramahari Behera. Like his other contemporaries, he too joined Jatra party and toured all over Odisha, performing and learning various aspects of theatre.  From Ramachandra Dey he took lessons in music and other traditional dance styles. He also mastered the Chhanda and Champu and was well versed in music. He joined the Nrutya Sangeet Kalamandir, Balasore, as a guru. It was in 1957 that he joined Kala Vikash Kendra to study Odissi further. At that time, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Guru Mayadhar Raut were teaching there. Harekrushna took lessons under them also, though all of them had been trained in gotipua dance style.  Seeing his industrious nature and desire to learn more, Babulal Doshi, who established and was in charge of Kala Vikash Kendra, sponsored him for studies at Natya Ballet Theatre in Delhi. 

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Friday 6 July 2012

Janaki Rangarajan’s impressive Bharatanatyam recital - Dr. Sunil Kothari

On 29th June 2012 under the Horizon series, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) presented Janaki Rangarajan, a disciple of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, in an impressive  Bharatanatyam recital. Dividing her time between Washington, USA and Chennai, Janaki has in recent years drawn attention for her Bharatanatyam performances, for her brilliance and choice of items, which keep her audiences engaged in her presentation.

During my visits to Washington, one evening I met her at the theatre where she was to perform two Bharatanatyam numbers in an evening featuring various dancers presenting their choreographic works, including traditional Indian classical dancers. Tall and with attractive personality, she impressed me for her Bharatanatyam which did not include any of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam’s karana based Bharatanrityam, as Padma calls her dance style. It was Bharatanatyam margam and looked attractive within the traditional format. During my next visit also I was able to attend her performance and what struck me was her judicious blending of Padma’s style in a Margam format.

Friday 29 June 2012

Article - Nritarutya's performance for the queen - Mayuri Upadhya

I've been into dancing for over a decade now. Growing up dancing on roads, terrace tops, and even with imaginary friends, it was not much of a surprise when I ended up dancing professionally. I like everything to do with this art form. It’s a journey across a live wire. My batteries are constantly charged physically and emotionally and it is totally worth it!

One final call sealed everything from our end and packed us off for an exciting escapade to the UK. My Indian contemporary dance company Nritarutya was going to be part of The Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. We were to collaborate with Raghu Dixit, Indian folk rock phenomenon from India and combine our creative dancing selves with one of his magical tracks –“Mysore Se Aayi.” A special performance was planned with a presentation of over 550 horses as well as dancers, performers and artistes from across the world to celebrate 60 years of the reign of The Queen of England. I was thrilled to bits! I was to choreograph one of Raghu's tracks, backed by a 70-piece orchestra and 550 horses and dance to represent India and for that matter the entire Asian continent. Absolutely NO pressure!

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Interview - Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao: Natya Shastra workshop in Chennai - Bhavanvitha Venkatesh

Pappus Academic and Cultural Trust in collaboration with ABHAI (Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India) is conducting a ‘Natya Shastra Workshop’ in Chennai by Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao. He is a member of Sangeet Natak Akademi and Secretary of the Madras Music Academy. He has authored 15 books, more than hundred research papers on religion, philosophy, music and dance.

The Natya Shastra workshop is scheduled during July 9-14, 2012 at TAG Center and will be inaugurated by Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and Chitra Viswewaran. N Murali, President of the Music Academy, will distribute the certificates on the last day.

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Friday 22 June 2012

Rina Jana’s Odissi recital - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Under the aegis of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in their Horizon series, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra’s senior disciple Rina Jana from Kolkata gave a delectable Odissi recital on 15th June 2012.

Trained under Kelubabu’s watchful eye, Rina had from a very young age shown potential of being a dancer of merit. She watched Sanjukta Panigrahi and was much influenced by her dancing. She took lessons from her also and at one point she looked like Sanjukta when dancing. Then it was brought to her notice that she had to develop her own individual style and not imitate Sanjukta. That was enough and since then she performs with √©lan and confidence like a born dancer. 

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Samakala: A Festival of Contemporary Dance - Dr. Sunil Kothari

At the very outset, let me congratulate Odisha Tourism, Dept of Culture, Government of Odisha and Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi, Bhubaneswar, for organizing Samakala, a Festival of Contemporary Dance, from 11th till 13th June 2012 at Rabindra Mandap. And also for arranging a talk on Contemporary Dance by the renowned art critic Sadanand Menon to give a context for the event. For the first time, Odisha Tourism and Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi has organized such a festival. There are few such festivals being held in India for contemporary dance genre and any such venture needs full support. The principal Secretary of Odisha Tourism, Mr. Ashok Tripathi, has won unqualified appreciation for his boundless enthusiasm and meticulous planning of dance and music festivals in Odisha and it has rightly won the epithet that Odisha is a state of festivals. Mr. Tripathi is seen all the time on his toes paying attention to all details of the organization and it speaks volumes for one person whose initiative has brought excellent focus on dance.

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Interview - Ayswaria Wariar: Completely devoted to Mohiniattam - Vijay Shanker,

Vadodara (Gujarat) based Mohiniattam exponent Ayswaria Wariar has established the Nrithyodaya Charitable Trust towards the propagation and promotion of classical arts. She has performed for several prestigious festivals like Mohiniattam festivals in Trivandrum and Bangalore, Uttaradhi Festival organized by the Government of Gujarat, Soorya Festival, Mudra Festival in Tanjore, Hampi Festival, Deepcharika Festival in Indore, Dance and Music Festival in Doha (Qatar) to mention a few. With almost a decade of dedication towards both Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam, Ayswaria talks about her journey as a dancer, teacher and choreographer.

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Thursday 21 June 2012

Book Review - 'Contemporary Indian Dance - New Creative Choreography in India and the Diaspora' by Ketu H Katrak - Aniruddhan Vasudevan

‘Contemporary Indian Dance - New Creative Choreography in India and the Diaspora,’ by Ketu H Katrak, as part of Studies in International Performance Series edited by Janelle Reinelt and Brian Singleton, published by Palgrave Macmillan, NY, 2011.

Contemporary dance is a much-maligned form and name in some of the circles I move in. Many staunch traditionalists I know jokingly call it "Kandapadi dance" ("any- which-way dance"). Some of the reasons for this dismissal are rooted in the fact that the label "Contemporary Dance" is invoked in very loose and catch-all kind of ways. Once, I watched a piece of contemporary dance set to the much-abused, mediocre song from the film 'Titanic': "Every night in my dreams..." where the dancer really moved any-which- way suited her. Then there was a recent moment when a bunch of dancers in quasi- Bharatanatyam attire spiced up with diaphanous dupattas did kuditthu-mettu adavus, with all their ankle bells resounding across the auditorium, to a movement from Tchaikovsky. To be fair to the program, it was not announced as contemporary dance, but later I heard the dancers refer to it as "the contemporary section." 

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Tuesday 5 June 2012

Interview - Kambaramayanam: a dance-drama in Bharatanatyam style Interview with Usha Raghavan - Dr. Elisa Ganser

After the success of Maya’s Dream, a dance-drama in Sanskrit on the birth of the Buddha, Usha Raghavan, Director of Kalasagara UK, comes back on the scene with a new production on the Ramayana. This Bharatanatyam version of the grand epic featuring 26 artists was presented on the 6th of April 2012 at the outskirts of Paris, Villebon-sur-Yvette, France. The festival ‘Passeport pour l’Inde’ organised by KaleidanScope has seen the Kambaramayanam -12th century Tamil version of the original Sanskrit poem by Valmiki - come to life on the large stage of the Centre Culturel Jacques Brel, under the patronage of the Embassy of India. The London debut took place on the 29th of April, at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan centre.

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Saturday 2 June 2012

Poll - June 2012

How should Bollywood dance be regarded?
Pop, modern, contemporary, or a separate category called Filmi?

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Profile - CN Karunakaran: The artist and his world - Padma Jayaraj

CN Karunakaran, the celebrated painter form Kerala belongs to the group of artists who ushered in modernity to Independent India. Born in 1940 in Kerala in Brahmakulam, a laidback hamlet, Karunakaran grew up in a peaceful home as the youngest in the family. During the pre-independence days in rural Kerala, the boy’s horizon was bound by his village limits. But he used to collect British magazine covers with beautiful landscapes, which he loved to copy. That was his initiation into training in art. He copied the image of Asoka Pillar while in the 3rd standard which fetched him recognition in school. His first published work was the painting of water lilies that appeared on the cover of a Malayalam magazine. The child artist emerged with promise.

The recently launched book ‘MYTHIC IMAGINATION: ART OF C.N. KARUNAKARAN’ edited by Satyapal is a testimony to the singularity of his fine art. Quite handy, chronologically edited, the book is a visual odyssey through the 6 decades of his painting that traces the development of his art like a graph. The fine looking layout enhances the book like a work of art.  His oeuvre is the transmutation of the eternal into a visual language with Indian sensibility. He has carved a niche for himself with his unique signature in visual arts. The book published in English language brings the artist to the national mainstream. The book is not just a collection of his works but a peep into the making of the artist and an assessment of his creative world by eminent writers in the field of art. 

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Thursday 24 May 2012

Book Review - 'Place for dance in whole-child education: a scientific perspective' by Dr. Harbans Nakra - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Dr Nakra has described a model of the Human Brain – Behavior System based on the view that brain is an information processing system with an input from the sense organs and an output that represents behavior. Between these two end points, seven processing Functions are described.

Analysis & evaluation
Decision making
Emotional brain
Imagination and
Action or expression

The first letter of each of the above has been shown in bold to highlight the remarkable acronym that emerges. PAIDEIA is an ancient Greek term that referred to a system of general education. The descriptions of these functions, Dr. Nakra explains, include two important elements of the system: Cognition and Empathy. Neatly divided into three parts in Part I (chapters 1 and 2) our current understanding of the human brain-behaviour system is described. This provides a scientific basis for defining the needs of developmental education, which are presented in Part II (chapter 3) and in Part III (chapter 4) the potential of dance training for meeting the needs of developmental education is presented. Dr. Nakra believes that this will justify a solid pedagogic footing for the inclusion of dance as a subject in the school curriculum.

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Sunday 20 May 2012

Interview - I am yet to get my due: Pt Brij Narayan - Vijay Shanker

Renowned sarod maestro Pandit Brij Narayan has been a professional musician for more than three decades but feels that the recognition he truly deserves is yet to come. Pt Brij Narayan talks about his performances both in India and abroad and as to why he selected the sarod and not the sarangi, unlike his legendary father Pandit Ram Narayan.

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Saturday 19 May 2012

Mothers by daughters - Amma Endru Azhaikaadha Uyir Illayae - Sweta Ravisankar

(The title in Tamil translates to “There is not a single soul that does not call out for its mother.”)

Amma Yaar - this is what I call her with love, anger, frustration and sadness. These words even flash on my cell phone when she is trying to reach me. Simple though it may seem, it always reminds me that she is my mother as well as my best friend. It brings me a lot of joy to give you a glimpse of the woman who inspires me to keep improving every minute of every day.

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