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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