Friday 23 October 2015

Obit/Tribute - Pt. Arjun Mishra - Ashish Mohan Khokar

Senior Kathak guru and performer Pt. Arjun Mishra passed away on October 22, 2015 on the auspicious Dussera day in a nursing home in Lucknow. He has been seriously ill with bone cancer and related issues.
Pt. Arjun Mishra was an ace disciple of Kathak samrat Birju Maharaj

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Thursday 15 October 2015

Interview - Gayatri Sriram: Samarpana Festival in Singapore - Tapati Chowdurie

Gayatri Sriram, artistic director of Sruti Laya, recently celebrated Samarpana - The Asian Festival of Classical Dance in Singapore at the prestigious Esplanade Theatre. Samarpana has taken long strides in a very short time. In the very fourth year of its existence, Samarpana has been helped by Jyoti Ramesh of Jade Group International, Singapore and supported by National Arts Council Singapore. 
Though she hails from a family of bankers, “My father's side was artistically inclined. My  paternal grandfather, though a lawyer was a wonderful mridangist. I was introduced to Bharatanatyam at the age of five and Hindustani classical music as well. I think in a certain way my mother wanted to dance through me. I think it is her vision of me as a Bharatanatyam dancer that set the stage in some way. I also learnt the veena for several years. My interest in dance for the first few years were mostly driven by my mother’s push," she said exuberantly, in an informal get-together. 

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Obit/Tribute - Sudarshan Dheer - Dr. Sunil Kothari

Kathak dancer Sudarshan Dheer hailed from Punjab and settled in Mumbai and later in the UK, teaching in far off places like London, Slough and Glasgow. He took lessons in Kathak from Ashiq Hussain in Benaras Gharana and also from Hazarilal, husband of Sunayana Hazarilal, who taught Kathak at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mumbai. He also worked with Gopi Krishna for a while in Mumbai.

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Wednesday 14 October 2015

Article - Education in spiritual values through Bharatanatyam - Part XII Varnam - Chandra Anand

The content in arts pertains to the aspects of life. They are portrayed in artistic work through the medium of the expression of thoughts and feelings of the spirit of man.  A work of art expresses the feeling and thought of a single moment, by which, the viewer is made deeply aware of the intense emotions of that moment. Development of the idea for expressing the moment is based on the empirical experiences of human beings.
The content in varnam:
Similarly, in the varnam, one aspect of life is showcased. Varnam is the main item of a traditional Bharatanatyam repertoire. It is about the relationship between man and woman. The content highlights a romantic moment. It showcases the state of being, at the moment, when feelings of yearning for union with the beloved take over the mind of man.

The story line:
Naturally, the dancer portrays a lovelorn heroine (nayika), pining for union with the hero (nayaka). With fervor, she conveys her love and devotion to him by speaking about his goodness and greatness that attracts her to him. Visibly, she considers him as the epitome of perfection. Furthermore, she pleads with her friend (sakhi) to help her. 

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Tuesday 6 October 2015

Seen and Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan - Memory recall - Papanasam Sivan

His name was familiar to me even in my childhood. Years before I was born, he had established links with my parents and uncle Director K. Subrahmanyam who cast him in the role of Shambu Sastri, Baby Saroja's grandfather in the iconic film Tyaga Bhoomi based on a story written by Kalki Krishnamurthy. In fact, he was kind of re-christened at that time, with the prefix PAPANASAM, the place where my father and uncle grew up as children of a famous advocate - C.S. Krishnaswamy Iyer of Kumbakonam. Sivan lived there for a while, conducted Margazhi month bhajans, and became a friend of the family. Almost all the pioneering directors of cinema needed composers of music, and Sivan was in great demand. His compositions for cinema are remembered to this day.

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Thursday 1 October 2015

Roving Eye by Anita Ratnam - October 2015

Anita says - October 2015

A breathless month, filled with so many viewings of dance and theatre. Thirty days of almost nonstop watching and also performing, teaching and listening. So far, this has been my stellar 4 weeks of the year - as a rasika, an artiste and a dance explorer.
So here goes...

September began with a moving and sentimental tribute to the Sanskritist and scholar sans pareil, S. Sarada of Kalakshetra. It was a beautiful and heartfelt evening of dance, speeches and gently nudged memories through scenes from iconic Kalakshetra productions. When the four stalwarts, VP Dhananjayan, CV Chandrasekhar, Balagopal and Janardhanan entered the stage to share the collective responsibility for the varnam ROOPAMU JOOCHI, the audience burst into a spontaneous applause. When VPD and wife Shanta posed as Rama and Sita for the final Tillana/Daru scene, it made many senior alumni wipe their eyes in nostalgia. The packed Rukmini Arangam was heartfelt in its standing ovation to the confluence of experience and art.  I did, surprisingly, fall in love with the elegant and intelligent framing of the ‘teernamans’ and ‘sancharis’ of ROOPAMU JOOCHI, forgetting how this one ‘varnam’ almost damaged my knees and lower back with Sarada Hoffman's insistence on deep, deeper, deepest ‘araimandi’ and strong footwork. Today, this varnam represents the essence of Rukmini Devi's vision of modern  Bharatanatyam as well as the gender neutral choreography that has become the global  signifier of "clean technique." A memorable evening.

I missed the memorial to guru Narasimhachari a few days later which was also very well attended. The passing of another creative spirit, along with a host of invaluable seniors over the past 9 months has surely diminished the creative landscape of dance and music. Perhaps it is now time to do a special issue marking the contributions of these creative dance and music makers.  A volume of 100 names who have revolutionized the tapestry of modern Indian dance in the 20th century. I use the word ‘modern’ consciously. We tend to forget that classical dance, as we know it today, is really a modern form - reconstituted for the urban elite post India’s independence and made attractive for larger consumption. It is a far cry from the art of the "sadir" and the artistes that made dance and music their entire life!. 

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