Wednesday 25 March 2015

Base Notes - “Sastric Tradition in Indian Classical Dances” - Shanta Serbjeet Singh

Chetna Jyotishi Beohar is a Kathak dancer, an aesthete, an administrator of the arts and an avid scholar.  Her new book Sastric Tradition in Indian Classical Dances published by Agam Kala Prakashan, deserves notice for all  these reasons as well as  the singular one that she is well versed in both classical dance Kathak,  as well as Sanskrit.
Dance studies suffer from two factors—limited pedagogical knowledge of the tools of research coupled with little or no proficiency in different languages. The dance scholar who has knowledge, say of Kathak, as well as of Persian and Urdu, besides Sanskrit, Hindi and English can definitely contribute original insights into the impact of political forces such as the changes in cultural history that accompanied the advent of the Moguls in the medieval period. Chetna Beohar has research and publication of many books on Kathak to her credit.  Add to it proficiency in Sanskrit and you have the right foundation for some original insights.

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Wednesday 18 March 2015

Article - Education in spiritual values through Bharatanatyam: Part VI Bharatanatyam and Yoga - Chandra Anand

Indian classical dance has been equated to yoga. The practice of Indian classical dances and other classical arts is said to be akin to meditation. The spiritual, mental and physical discipline required for complete harmony of mind and body is found in yoga philosophy. “Yoga is adeptness or efficiency in any activity undertaken by the individual: this is the karmasu  kausalam of the Bhagavad Gita. Yoga is the power of withdrawal of mental energy from all activity not directed towards the single end in view; it is also perspicacity of vision which enables one to see the underlying unity of everything”.[1]
Similarity in Yoga and Indian classical dance
During meditation, one concentrates on the chakras particularly agnya chakra. The common factor in the practice of yoga and Bharatanatyam, is the fact that both need to concentrate on the chakras (the psycho-physical centers) of the body. The chakras together form “the thought body of the trans-migratory soul.”[2] The chakras lie on the central line of the body that demarcates the left and the right parts of the body (bilateral symmetry). 

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Sunday 15 March 2015

Book Review - The spiritual dimension of Indian classical dance - Padma Jayaraj

The Yoga of Indian Dance authored by Mandakini Trivedi is a booklet primarily on the spiritual aspect of Indian classical dance forms. The cover, done in linear drawing, carries the picture of Shiva, the archetypal dancer.  Quite human in proportions, Shiva carries his damaru and fire in two hands while the other two display dance mudras. The book is dedicated to her spiritual mentor, “Silent Master, the very form of Shiva Dakshinamoorthy.” We move on to the next page to see the profile of her guru superimposed on the figure of the artist in dance costume, with a footnote, ‘The Inspiration.’ The pictures speak in volumes. The words that flow in the following chapters are an enunciation of the illustration.
The Yoga of Indian Dance explores the aesthetic, the symbolic and the spiritual dimensions of classical dance forms of India. While the aesthetic and the symbolic are fairly known both to the artists and to the rasikas, the spiritual aspect that lends loftiness to art is highlighted in the book. Under four headings the essence of classical arts is distilled for the students and the lovers of art.

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Wednesday 11 March 2015

TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar - Collaborations

Collaborations, that's what's trending. Collaborations between forms, dancers, organizations, cities, universities, institutions. 
February was fulsome, to say the least. TREND and TRENDING is learning! Our universities are woefully inadequate with dance history and heritage teaching as they have little or no evidence of historical materials in possession, to illustrate dance heritage. Just talking about a subject without visual or literary evidence is dull, especially in a visually rich art form like dance. One exception to this trend is Pune University’s Dance department. Last year, they had a seminar and focus on dance writing and assessment and this February a two-day focus on choreography under CREATING AWARENESS series. Pune University's Lalit Kala (Music and Dance Dept), Maharashtra Cultural Centre and Nad Roop made me address over 100 students of MA and PhD in what are trends in choreography today and dance history. To meet and talk with over 100 enthusiastic and evolved Puneites was an eye-opener. Among the most artistic lot in western India, Pune is to Hindustani music and theatre and films, what Madras is to Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam and films. It is a gardd (adda / epic-centre). With hours of rare film footage, culled and collected from various sources, including making my own short films from Mohan Khokar Dance Collection materials, I could bring alive the various facets of our dance heritage and history. The students were all grown up mostly and keen to learn and some had very good questions. They asked about Natya Shastra and its relevance to modern dance (!); they asked about where to practice in Mumbai (as though I owned Bombay!) and they asked why such materials had not been ever seen before. 

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Friday 6 March 2015

Article - The Natyanjali circuit - P Praveen Kumar

Come Shivaratri, it’s a celebration time for many dancers. As dance and devotion are intermingled with each other, so it is with dancers and Shivaratri.  Artists from all over the world head to different temple venues to share their dance experience in front of their favorite dancing deity Nataraja. Yes, when I mean artists from all over, I see, read and hear of people from across the country fly down to be a part of this dance festival, no matter where it is.
Natyanjali festival, which is very popular now, takes place at many temples all over Tamilnadu. This festival attended by well known artists and rasikas have brought in a new set of audiences in and around these temple towns.

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Seen & Heard by Lakshmi Viswanathan - Performing Gurus

In the olden days there were no performing Gurus. At least not in Bharatanatyam. As early as the Silappadikaram, there are references to male dancers. They were known by different names... like Koottan, Chakkai Koottan etc. In those centuries, diverse dance forms existed and each mode required different participants. Going by descriptions we know that what we call folk forms today were part of the list of dances prevalent. I don’t wish to go into Margi and Desi definitions. Each age had its own attitude to dance and we today can only conjecture what experts of those times thought about various modes. There seems to have been no divisions like classical, and folk. The skill for each mode was respected, recognized and honoured. This is my surmise after reading many texts. 

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