Sunday 26 July 2015

Article - Do we need the revival? - Ranee Kumar

Surfing the television on a sultry Sunday afternoon, Sringaram caught my eye and the first ten minutes through, I got engrossed in the movie, which triggered off my dormant thought process once again and here we go into this journey about Devadasis and their art. Being a dyed-in-the –wool newspaper journo for decades, I wouldn’t like to linger on historical happenings and the fall out but come straight to the point.
Coming across a section of dance veterans/gurus who have gone hammer and tongs to delve into  the Devadasi dance and that era of ‘divine’ romanticism verbatim,  recreate it on the public platform and propagate it under the banner of an individualised art form.  Their peg: the Devadasi dance is the fountainhead of all the present day classical dances, urgently in need of resurrection.

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Saturday 25 July 2015

Obit / Tribute - Gracious Guru Jayalakshmi Alva - Ashish Mohan Khokar

In the passing away of Guru Jayalakshmi Alva on July 21, 2015, the era of gracious gurus comes to an end, almost. In her persona, the very quintessence of what a real guru ought to be, rested. Never one for limelight or attention, she carried on teaching Bharatanatyam till her end.

Read the tribute in the site

Thursday 16 July 2015

Interview - Sundara Swaminathan: 25 years of Kala Vandana - Poornima Ramaprasad

Sundara Swaminathan, the founder and artistic director of Kala Vandana Dance Company is a well known exponent of Bharatanatyam. A graduate of Kalakshetra, Chennai, she was fortunate to be trained under Guru Rukmini Devi and other eminent teachers at Kalakshetra.

Sundara's expressive eyes, graceful movements and precise footwork have gained acclaim for her both in India and in the USA. Besides being an excellent dancer, Sundara is an expert choreographer and a dedicated teacher who has influenced many of her students with her dance training and life lessons. She has presented many excellent productions to the Bay Area audience over the years - Shraddhanjali, A Child's world, Return to Tradition, Lord of Dance, Dasavataram, Glory of Muruga, Tales of Temple Dance and Gopika Krishna to name a few. She has done several fundraising events for notable causes as well.

Here are excerpts from an exclusive one on one with Sundara Swaminathan.

What were your inspirations and aspirations that brought you to where you are today?
When I started Kala Vandana Dance Center, I wanted to establish an institute that taught dance as a life education, and not just as a form of performing arts. I wanted every student to understand the meaning of hard work and discipline, to know the power of their potential and realize that there is no limit to what they can accomplish, that they could achieve and excel without competing. It brings tears of joy when I hear from alumni when they share with me how Kala Vandana has shaped their life beyond dance and the stage.

Read  the interview in the site

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Obit / Tribute - To my teacher Shyamala, with love - Ashwini Karthikeyan

The passing of my dear teacher of classical dance, Shyamala Mohanraj (1941-2015) on July 14, leaves a large vacuum in my being. I met her for the first time two years ago, and it was love at first sight! Her curious, soft eyes and her gentle, kind smile melted all hard edges within. Before I found her, I had been learning with gifted teachers, yet a restlessness burned inside of me.

Read the tribute in the site

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Article - Education in Spiritual Values through Bharatanatyam - Part X Epic Grandeur of the Tanjore Quartet margam (TQM) - Chandra Anand

The Tanjore Quartet margam is the codified formula of presentation that a Bharatanatyam artiste follows to display her/his art. The concept of the jivatma yearning for the paramatma is the main theme in the repertoire of TQM which denotes the quest for self-realization as explained in Hindu philosophy. This kind of serious theme requires an elevated style of presentation. Therefore the Tanjore Brothers have made use of the epic style which is known for its grandeur. Thus we analyze the TQM features with the characteristics of the epic style of writing.

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Friday 10 July 2015

TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar - Whither Dance Education?

Is anyone interested in dance education in India? Not learning dance alone, or items. But dance education. Its history and heritage. Its nuanced feel, its layered approach. Is anyone interested in learning anything academic? Most dancers or dance teachers today (under 30/35) have no sense of history or heritage, save their own guru/bani/gharana/style or region/city/caste! When they are not politicking (talking ill of their immediate competition), they are busy on next performance and trip to here, there and everywhere. They have no interest in art or books, only Facebook! One Bangalore teacher (having 500 students) came to buy attendance, the yearbook, and wanted student discount (half price) and left paying the same. Such is our lot.

Youngsters are asking how to earn not learn. Earlier dance learning was an ideal state of mind, not for earning or performing alone - that happened by chance and was at best, a by-product. Now, a student or parent is more concerned about returns. Earlier, a guru saw potential and taught accordingly. Now, gurus are factories teaching all. Should they be called gurus? Or teachers? Our basic definitions are not in place, no standardization in teaching and thus we are making half-baked dancers. These dancers have no real devotion to dance, just themselves. That’s why one sees dancers having 400 students! They cut each other out in charging least fee to get maximum students. The laws of diminishing returns have set in.

Read the article in the site

Sunday 5 July 2015

Seen & Heard by Lakshmi Viswanathan - Yagnaraman - a tribute to the proverbial Sabha Secretary, a cultural phenomenon of our city

At the inauguration of the Yagnaraman July Fest in Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, I was invited to speak about the pioneer of dance festivals who had served the sabha for fifty one years.
YAGNARAMAN... the name denotes one who does a Yagam. He indeed has done Yagam for dance and music. A man of vision and fine taste. One can find many things to say about someone like him. Some people may think I am exaggerating. I follow what Rukmini Devi used to say. Do not find faults in greatness..... great people are also human... appreciate the good things and learn from their example.

I have to begin with my personal association with Yagnaraman. 

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Wednesday 1 July 2015

Roving Eye by Anita Ratnam - July 2015

Anita says - July 2015 message

It's a stage, an arena, a crucible, a cauldron, a theatre, a temple..."
Words in a documentary describing Wimbledon's Centre Court.

As I spend most of my precious free time watching my favourite sport, memories of a recent holiday in Greece cling to me. For years – no, five decades - I have longed to visit. Raised on the twin mythologies of India and Greece by my grandmother who would tell these fabulous bedtime stories of the Gods and Goddesses, the soaring pillars of the Parthenon, the magical acoustics of the Acropolis and the glistening waters of the islands were never far from my mind. When a dance conference beckoned, I answered. Although ticket booking snafus ensured that I was only able to attend the event for a few hours, the country seemed like a coming home for my spirit. Everything about Greece seemed familiar.  The chaos of Athens, the view of the Acropolis from almost every   hotel restaurant in the city, the abandoned theatres of Dionysus, the splendour of history and battle speaking through the vast ruins and magnificent museums, the creativity of design in textile and jewellery, the amazing food (oh that yogurt with honey, olive oil, black salt and fresh bread!), the smile of the Greek people, their pride holding amidst the crumbling economy and grim future - it all seemed so familiar and comfortable. I conducted a parallel narrative to the tour guide's description of the heroics and follies of the male Gods with our own stories of antics and mishaps from Indian lore. My family was repeatedly embarrassed with my continued enthusiasm and poked fun with my impromptu singing inside the Acropolis and dancing in the vast theatre at Delphi. It was MY moment. Unapologetic. Unforgettable. I am returning. 

Read the message in the site