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. 

Read the profile in the site

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.

Read the article in the site

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.

Read the interview in the site

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.

Read the article in the site

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Interview - Lighting is like a character on stage: Victor Paulraj - Lalitha Venkat

Based in Chennai, Victor Paulraj started his career as assistant to veteran set and light designer Mithran Devanesan. In 1998, Victor started his company 'Studio 7' and is a much sought after sets and lighting designer for theatre and contemporary dance programs. He has been associated with prominent theatre groups in Chennai including MTC Productions, Madras Players, ThespianEn, Masquerade, ASAP, EVAM and has served as the technical lead liaison for international theatre and dance companies performing in Chennai (including those hosted by the Inko Centre, Max Mueller Bhavan, British Council, and Alliance Francaise). He is the technical director for all events and festivals conducted by Prakriti Foundation.

Victor is the technical director for Anita Ratnam’s dance productions and all programs and festivals conducted by Arangham Trust. He has also worked with dancers like Lata Pada and Hari Krishnan from Canada. Victor shares his thoughts with in an exclusive interview. 

Read the interview in the site

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Lasya Kavya: A documentary film on Alarmel Valli - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Sankalp Meshram and Alarmel Valli have contributed in a seamless manner to a very luminous, heartwarming film on Alarmel Valli. It was screened during the World Dance Day celebrations organized by Geeta Chandran under the aegis of her institution Natyavrikhsa, on 28th April 2012 at the Main Auditorium of India International Centre, New Delhi, and both the film director and dancer were present for after talk.

The screening has left such an indelible impression that when I was writing about it, some sections of the film ran over and over again in my mind, making me again relish the highlights, the rasa sthanas - the points of aesthetic delight. If you have known the dancer from her very young age and have followed her performances for more than three decades, and if you are an admirer of her dance, so many images, for someone like me, are repeated with more nuanced relish. The camera has captured Valli’s myriad moods with great felicity. Nothing looks contrived or for effect. 

Read the article in the site

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Astad Deboo Dance Foundation’s Interpreting Tagore - Dr. Sunil Kothari

On 30th April, hot on the heels of World Dance Day celebrations, the one and only Astad Deboo, along with dancers from Salaam Baalak Trust who he has been training for the past four years, presented Interpreting Tagore with select eight dancers. The programme at Kamani Hall was in aid of Salaam Baalak Trust. The house full performance is another feather in the cap of Astad who has been for the past 40 years performing contemporary dance winning laurels. And his concern for less privileged section and children has brought cheer to the disabled children and street children.

Of the four selected poem of Gurudev Tagore - Surrender, Your Grace, Walking Tall, Awakening - the one which indeed amazed the audience was Your Grace which cast a spell. So unusual and spectacular was it in its concept, imagination, colour and scale that one shall remember it for a long time. As a matter of fact, from all other numbers, Your Grace stole the show.

Read the article in the site

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Ashavari Majumdar’s Surpanakha - an experiment in Kathak - Dr. Sunil Kothari

When I received a call from Kolkata from Kathak dancer Ashavari Majumdar requesting me to save the date 20th April 2012 for an evening at Habitat Centre, I could not place her. She sent me an e-invite in advance and it simply stated ‘Surpanakha- an experiment in Kathak.’ She followed it up with a few phone calls, knowing that dance calendar in Delhi gets full with simultaneous performances and critics may not turn up, and audiences also get divided.

I am glad I attended her performance. It was an interesting experiment. With projection of visuals, four live musicians - vocalist, sarangi player, a tabla player and a pakhavaj player - a team of light designer and projectionists for visuals. A screen on the stage was placed before a white backdrop. With the strains of melodious sarangi and playing of tabla, the mood was set. Ashavari entered dressed in a cut size silver blouse, revealing right shoulder and attired in a flared ghaghara (skirt) in off white colour, taking pirouettes like a whirlwind, covering the stage and after a while, stood near the mike. Collecting her breath, she introduced the topic. Taking full advantage of talking to the audience as Kathak dance form allows, she started telling the story of Surpanakha, who had her nose cut off by Lakshmana when she made advances to him after Rama sent her to him. With nose covered, taking a symbolic posture, Ashavari with projection on the screen creating environmental ambience, forest, stone walls, let loose a storm. The mood of Surpanakha was enhanced further by the flaring whirling ghaghara. With a commanding stage presence, she looked like a royal princess, sister of King Ravana.

Monday, 7 May 2012

World Dance Day celebrations - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Come April 29th and the Capital is agog with World Dance Day celebrations. Since past five years, I have been visiting Bangalore, attending Word Dance Day celebrations there. It was interesting for me this year to attend dance performances,  seminars and other events organized mainly by two prominent institutions, viz., Natya Vriksha of Bharatanatyam exponent Geeta Chandran and Sadhya dance company run by Mayurbhanj Chhau and contemporary dance exponent Santosh Nair.

Natya Vriksha had a two day dance celebration. On the 28th April at India International Centre’s main auditorium, they had screening of a documentary film on Alarmel Valli (see separate review), followed by after screening talk, tea and performances by New Delhi’s Kathakali dancer Kalamandalam Amaljith and Odissi by Ayona Bhaduri from Kolkata. At the same time in the evening, renowned photographer Avinash Pasricha’s audio visual on Purvanga Gayaki events at Benares and Kolkata organized by Vikram Kapoor, was held at World Wide next door. Therefore, I missed Amaljith’s Kathakali performance. But I could catch up with Ayona Bhaduri’s Odissi recital.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Poll - May 12

Which dance form is most useful as a foundation for Contemporary Indian dance?

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