Thursday 23 January 2014

Mukteswar Dance Festival (January 14 - 16, 2014) - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Hot on the heels of ‘The Hindu Lit for Life’ festival on literature in Chennai (11 to 13th January) commenced the Mukteswar Dance Festival in Bhubaneswar in a specially constructed open air auditorium with the backdrop of the 10th century Odishan architectural marvel of Mukteswar Temple. With the winter chill, the mystic ambience and surrounding small temples created a visual treat. There is something magical about this temple complex. It was Sankaranti and a rare combination of full moon night, Purnima. The moon shining in the sky atop the tall shikhara of the adjoining shrine, the stars shooting in all directions and the gentle breeze carrying the slightly audible notes of music prior to the performance transported the large gathering into a mood for receiving the unfolding of the dance performances.
Since the presiding deity at Mukteswara is Lord Shiva, the artists invariably commence by paying homage to Lord Nataraja. Organized by Odisha Tourism in association with Odisha Tourism Development Corporation Ltd and Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi, the format for the past few years has been kept the same.  It must be mentioned that the festival which under the personal supervision and guidance of the dynamic former Director of Tourism Mr. Ashok Tripathy took shape and placed with several other dance and music festivals including the Konark Festival, has maintained the ambience and clockwork regularity, starting sharp on the dot at 6pm and the time limit offered to dancers was strictly observed. About half a kilometre of the approach road leading to the venue was lit up with colourful little lights creating a festive mood. The entrance, the display boards, the arrangements for photographers, the high pedestal on the right of the stage for simultaneous direct telecast by DD, were well organized. It seems the successors to Tripathy have decided to continue the tradition so well established.

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Wednesday 22 January 2014

Profile - Guru Pankaj Charan Das: A Life - Timeless and Boundless - Sutapa Patnaik

The role of Guru Pankaj Charan Das in the reawakening of Odisha’s ancient dance tradition is both fundamental and dominant. Although he garnered uncontested recognition for his contribution to the art world, a lesser known fact of this avant-garde guru is his effort to bring about a transformation in the social attitude towards dance and dancers. Guru Pankaj rose valiantly from the ashes of the sacred convention – of offering music and dance as a service to the Almighty – that had been incinerated by its own effulgence; and he became the first among the earliest of those that helped revive Odissi in the 20th century. Standing tall in his own merit, he constantly lent himself to various interpretations of resurrection, from artistic impulses to social awareness.

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Thursday 16 January 2014

Article - Odissi: a flower without the fragrance? - Ileana Citaristi

I was talking to an old devadasi of the temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri. She told me that all the people who were now proclaiming to have been the ‘first’ just took of the Odissi dance what they saw, understood, experienced or absorbed and went away to sell it to the world. But that was like to pick up a flower and think to possess its fragrance too, or to copy the recipe of prasada in the temple; it would not have the taste of the original one. In this way, they may have taken away the outward structure of the dance but not the core. This belonged to the temple dancers and would die with the last of them.
We have come a long way since the time when Odissi dance was a matter of lifelong training and dedication of a few girls, secluded from the rest of society and fully oriented towards giving pleasure to their Lord residing in the temple. The dance performances of today are totally intermingled with mundane values like ambition, competition, politics, money, showmanship, individual prestige and so on.

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Wednesday 15 January 2014

Roses & Thorns - How grateful should we be to sponsors who support the arts - especially Dance? - Anita Ratnam

The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is openly wooing NRI investment and closer to home, the august Music Academy has had the benefit of Sreedhar Potarazu’s generosity over the past 8 years. He is the CEO of VitalSpring Technologies based in Washington DC. The annual January Dance Festival has seen VS as the title Sponsor of the event. This year, on January 3, 2014 on opening day of the festival, Mr. Potarazu delivered his annual speech. Except this time he seemed a man on a mission. And nobody knew what it was. Adopting a belligerent, mutinous look, he took to the microphone and spoke about the media and critics as being ungrateful of his munificence???? Really??? Thank you, Mr. Potarazu, for your continued support of dance. We know your daughter Deepika, the Kuchipudi dancer who is trying to make her mark on the Chennai scene, no doubt fueled by your paternal love and resources!

However, have you ever thought of THANKING the artistes who perform at the festivals that you sponsor? In fact, does any sponsor actually thank the ARTISTE for the chance to be associated with the arts? NO. It is the other way around. We dancers, scrape, prostrate, kneel, kiss hands, backsides and brown nose ourselves to the point of humiliation.

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Friday 10 January 2014

Interview - In conversation with Avinash Pasricha - Sudha Sridhar

Avinash Pasricha needs no introduction to the Art world as he is one of the pioneers when it comes to dance photography. He has the unique distinction and honour of photographing almost all the eminent musicians and dancers of his time. His rich contribution to the world of art in the form of collaborative work with dancers, scholars, critics showcasing the splendor and depth of our art form to the world at large through the lens is well appreciated and admired. Avinash is himself a subject of great interest what with an enviable collection of close to a staggering three lakh images of the performing artists of India in his repertoire and not to forget his unmatched experience of covering the art world from close quarters at its best for more than five decades.
Avinash patiently answers a few questions and shares in abundance his enthusiasm for the subject of art in general and dance in particular.

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Thursday 9 January 2014

Purush: Male Moves through the century - Ashish Mohan Khokar

Fast forward to 2013. A woman called Anita Ratnam and a man called Hari Krishnan curate and mount PURUSH to bring together disparate and desperate elements together.  Disparate as the canvas is so vast and desperate because opportunities (for performance) are so few.  Add to the polarity.  There is the old Madras and a new Chennai; the old Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and a new hall in making. Old in the new Mylapore. There are the have-beens, the could-have-beens and the wannabes. Slimmest and fattest of so-called dance critics who are essentially dance PR folks.  There are also those in the evening of their lives - spent forces, trying to hold on to the last light on stage - and be relevant or read. The university types drone on while the wise ones remain short and sweet. Self styled leaders of the dance industry (industry?) seeking space in front row rubbing shoulders with stars, while others muse from afar. This, then, is the palate. The place: Madras, oops, Chennai.

Read the review in the site