Sunday 22 September 2013

Article - The journey of dance - Padmavani Mosalikanti

Indian dance or natya as we all know was born with a purpose and has been growing as a beautiful tree with its roots in the divine earth.  This tree has spread across the horizons with its innumerable branches (shakhas), each branch representing a style of dance. One can think of the tree being in its prime when its flowers are in full bloom and spreading its fragrance worldwide. But as we enjoy the fragrance, we should not forget the purpose with which its seeds were sown on earth. Dance was born not only as a mere entertainment, but also for ‘loka kalyanam’ or social welfare. Is our dance fulfilling its objective today? Or would it ever fulfill? What is its state today in our society? Are we as dancers doing justice to the art we have learnt putting in so many years of hard work? With all these questions revolving in my mind for a long time, a very fruitful talk with a singer triggered me to pen down my thoughts into words.

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Saturday 14 September 2013

Varsha Utsav - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Visiting Bangalore soon after centenary celebrations of Mohanrao  Kallianpurkar to attend Varsha Utsav organized by Adhyasha Odissi Dance Ensemble run by Odissi exponent Sarita Mishra, it was indeed a pleasure to meet another devotee of Odissi based in Bangalore, performing, teaching and organizing programs enlisting support from Bangalore based local senior and contemporary dancers. I had not met her or known her earlier, but seeing her work, dedication, enthusiasm and high standard of her own dance, I was duly impressed. Sarita Mishra hails from Bhubaneswar. Her husband Uttam Rath is a military officer. Though he has to move from city to city, his stay in Bangalore offered Sarita scope to start an institution to teach Odissi to young dancers and also elder women interested in dance. Within two years she succeeded in gathering around her few talented dancers, including those who have had training in Bharatanatyam and worked assiduously to build up an enjoyable repertoire.

She succeeded in inviting the luminaries from Bhubaneswar, the leading lights of present day Odissi, both musicians and exponents.  Odissi exponent Guru Bichitrananda Swain, mardala exponent Guru Dhaneswar Swain, Odissi vocalist, musician, composer Guru Ram Hari Das, Odissi exponent Sujata Mohapatra and also Chittaranjan Mallia, secretary of Odissi Sangeet Natak Akademi, an authority on Gotipua dance tradition and a scholar, participated in the two day festival, displaying their art and gave an enchanting glimpse into Odissi dance and music. Sarita’s own repertoire, her choreography of few numbers, and her solo showcased the sound training she has received and also her attempts to choreograph a variety of numbers.

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Sunday 8 September 2013

Article - Fashion meets dance at Delhi Couture Week - Ashwin Kumar

And then fashion came calling! Again! We performed for designer Anju Modi’s collection presented at Delhi Couture Week. The collection labelled ‘Draupadi’ was all about the warrior princess look. Working on the theme for her collection we depicted three scenes from Mahabharata – SWAYAMVAR, GAME OF DICE and CHEERHARAN. The stories were well known but never explored by us in the Indian Contemporary Dance context.

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Saturday 7 September 2013

Seen & Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan - Striking a pose

In Bharatanatyam performances, audiences are treated to "poses" by dancers.  When I was a young girl learning dance, I used to attend performances of senior dancers every now and then and I noticed that some gurus had taught their students to give statuesque poses, while others eschewed them completely. For example, Guru Vazhuvur Ramaiah Pillai's students struck the Nataraja and other poses at frequent intervals in their shows, whilst the students of Pandanallur Chokkalingam Pillai were more reticent with poses.  I noticed also that Balasaraswathi never lifted her leg in the Nataraja pose. I assumed then that perhaps it was because of her age (then in her forties) or perhaps she was heavier in build as compared to many others whom I saw in performance. Later, I read Dr. Raghavan, her mentor. He was very disapproving of unnecessary poses and thought they were aberrations! He used phrases like "rasabhasa" meaning contrariness to Rasa, which said it all. I loved that brevity of expression.

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Health column - Strengthen your knee - Masoom Parmar

1. Stretch your IT Band

2. Strengthen your Quadriceps, Hamstrings and Gluteus

3. Yoga, swimming, brisk walking and cycling also help strengthen your knee

4. Change your eating habits

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Tuesday 3 September 2013

Tribute - Past Forward with Guruji and Amma - Mamata Niyogi Nakra

There are moments in one’s life when destiny smiles in the face of adversity. One such moment came in my life when I had an accident in1969, which left me with a permanent injury and brutally cut me off from performing Bharata Natya. Some of my well-wishers helped me to overcome the initial shock and despair by encouraging, to the point of coaxing and goading me, to teaching Bharata Natya in Montreal. “What a formidable task to undertake,” I thought at the time; but, as if by divine intervention, my gurus U.S. Krishna Rao and U.K. Chandrabhaga Devi (Guruji and Amma to me) appeared on the horizon just when I needed them most, to provide guidance and inspiration and above all, to help regenerate my passion for dance. 

The Rao couple was on a visit to North America in the spring of 1980 and accepted an invitation from me to come to Montreal. They gave a scintillating lecture demonstration on Bharata Natya, organized by the India Canada Association of Montreal, to a packed auditorium of over 500 captivated listeners. On that occasion, not only did they enlighten the Montrealers present on the intricacies and aesthetics of Bharata Natya, but also endorsed, with warmth and generosity of spirit, my humble efforts to start a dance school by agreeing to return to Montreal for an extended stay. It was a wonderful way to re-establish our contact and renew our ties which dated back to the late fifties when I had gone to Bangalore for advanced training in Bharata Natya after having earlier studied the art in Patna from one of their disciples, Guru Balakrishnan.

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Obit/Tribute - Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi (Aug 10, 1934 - Aug 25, 2013) - Compiled by Lalitha Venkat

Classical vocalist, composer and Odissi musicologist Pt Raghunath Panigrahi passed away in Bhubaneswar on Aug 25, 2013. He was born on 10 August 1934 in Gunpur of Koraput District in Orissa. Pt Raghunath Panigrahi learnt from his father Nilamani Panigrahi, the classical way of singing Gita Govinda as preserved in the temple of Jagannatha in Puri and is known for his lifetime contribution towards promoting, propagating and popularizing the life and works of Jayadeva in the Orissa style. 

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