Friday 30 December 2016

What the genius from Kashmir gave to Indian philosophy and thought - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Described as saakshaatdakshinaamurthi and kantheshaavataarah, Abhinavagupta, the towering Kashmiri genius and great acharya of Saiva darshan, whose contribution to Indian philosophy and thought in the areas of theatre, music, dance, and tantra is immeasurable, was a scholar with immense range. Like Shiva combining in himself the ascetic and the erotic, or to quote renowned scholar Navjivan Rastogi the prajna –purusa embodying features of Saraswati and Nataraja fused into one, Abhinavagupta’s intellectual capacities encompassed a diversity of disciplines from Tantra and renunciatory religious philosophy and metaphysics to aesthetics, not excluding historiography, literature and what have you. The three day seminar at IGNCA in this the thousandth year of Abhinavagupta, with reputed scholars and younger enthusiasts contributing papers, was an attempt to look at the totality of this encyclopaedic mind - the first in-depth analysis of this intellectual giant being the path breaking work in 1935 of Dr. K.C. Pandey (a scholar from Lucknow, joined later by K. C. Iyer). But for Abhinavagupta’s commentary Abhinava Bharati, deciphering Bharata’s Natya Sastra Karanas in depth would have been impossible. The seminar featured several papers on the acharya as the interpreter of the Trika system with his versicular commentary Malinivijaya Vartika on the Malinivijayottaratantra and his works like Paratrisika Vivarna, and his vision of non-dualism where “fullness, harmony and integrality” are but connotations of a changing universe built on one unified essence. 

Read more in the site

Thursday 29 December 2016

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Yoga and dance - Srimathy Gopalakrishnan

Perhaps the only all pervading truth is that everything has a beginning, a primordial source that causes Genesis. So it is with art forms, be it dance, yoga, or any other martial art. The 108 dance forms of Lord Shiva form the basis for both Yoga and Dance. Moreover, the ultimate purpose of both Dance and Yoga is the same- Union with the higher self, with the Supreme, The Divine. For both the Yogi, and the dancer, limitations of time are dissolved and they go beyond worldliness to transcend one’s individual self. To speak of Dance and Yoga in separate terms would thus be a trifle ignorant.

From a performance enhancing perspective, it is important to recognize that Yoga and Dance are complementary art forms. 

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Wednesday 28 December 2016

Everyone wants to perform - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar

As the year rolled by, what trended most? All over India, all just wished to perform. No matter what level of training or technique, as though nothing else mattered! Problem is, where is the opportunity for all to perform and who is even there in the hall to watch? There are too many performers and too few platforms. An average show doesn't even get attendance, leave alone audience.  Big festivals have less than fifty folks sitting in the hall, half of whom are the organisers themselves! Or family and friends. Then why is everyone so desperate to dance? Those very established or cultured, are not. A Valli or Malavika perform only once a year in city outside their own. Next generation of stars Geeta Chandran, Aditi Mangaldas, Sujata Mohapatra also seem satisfied. It is the twenty to thirty year olds, those with recent wings who wish to fly. Nothing wrong in that, just that after a show or two they think they have seriously arrived in the professional dance circle and then get airs.

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Tuesday 27 December 2016

Mothers by Daughters & Others - My mother, My dance - Jothi Raghavan

My mother… my dance… I can’t separate one from the other.  I dance because my mother wanted me to. I am living her dream.  As a child, I resented having to learn dance which ate into my playtime... Little did I know that this would be the greatest gift that she gave me.  Now, I cannot imagine my life without dance. Bittersweet indeed.

Born and brought up in Srirangam in a conservative family, my mother could not learn dance formally. But dance was her passion. She got married early and settled into the role of a wife and a mother before she was twenty, but her love for dance kept growing. She finally had the opportunity to learn dance from Guru Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai at the ripe old age of twenty-one! She performed her arangetram which was a great accomplishment for those days. Once I had my arangetram, we performed together as “a mother and daughter team.”

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Saturday 24 December 2016

Article - Sensuousness of the Arts - Chandra Anand

An art work or piece is a creative unit made by man, in which he abstracts a special moment from life experience and integrates a whole meaning to it, by which the spectator is able to experience that moment as valued by the artist. The art body bears a likeness to that instance of abstraction as viewed by the artist of the special moment. It embodies thoughts and values about an aspect of reality as experienced or intuited by the artist. The concept formed is given concrete shape through images like pictures, statues etc. This image of art stimulates the senses of the spectator and makes him aware of the idea implicit in art work. This image is at a perceptible level, and enables the spectators to comprehend the importance or experience a heightened sense of the reality of the presented abstractions. The dominant emotion in the art presentation pervades through spectators giving them a pleasurable experience. Since viewing and appraising art work is an act of perception and not cognition, all art works need to be sensuous to attract and hold the undivided attention of the spectator. Thus the importance of the sensuous element i.e. “intrinsic perception of sensation” as one of art’s most characteristic features has been acknowledged. Therefore, art piece is a sensuous embodiment i.e. a work of art is directly available to the senses.

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Wednesday 21 December 2016

Profile - Dr. Mamata Niyogi-Nakra: Recipient of the Medal of Honor by the National Assembly of Quebec

On November 27, 2016 Kala Bharati organized a meaningful event where many artists and promoters of the arts in the city gathered for brainstorming and contributing to an initiative Kala Bharati is undertaking called Building Bridges. It is a proposition made by Carole Poirier, MNA, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve in Montreal, under which various possibilities of twinning Kolkata and Montreal through sharing cultural exchanges are being explored.
Carole Poirier is the elected member of the official opposition in the Quebec National Assembly, from the very district in which Dr. Mamata Niyogi–Nakra and Dr. Harbans Nakra reside and Kala Bharati, the Bharatanatya center she founded is based.

The evening also gave an opportunity to celebrate a momentous occasion in Dr. Mamata’s presence on Quebec’s cultural scene. This was a perfect moment to recognize her receiving the Medal of Honor in March this year, awarded by the National Assembly of Quebec for “perseverance in sharing our cultures.” 

Read more in the site

Monday 19 December 2016

Interview - Mayuri Upadhya: I am passionate about every role of mine - Vijay Shankar

Bangalore based Bharatanatyam and contemporary dancer, choreographer and teacher, Mayuri Upadhya has been credited for the dance recreation of K. Asif’s classic Hindi film Mughal-e-Azam in the play format. Mayuri has also choreographed the dance sequences for the poetic rendering of Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s “Madhushala”. Mayuri reveals her varied experiences as a dancer, teacher and choreographer and much more

Read the interview in the site

Away from performance arena - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Captivated as one is by the razzmatazz of glaring footlights and glamour of the sinuous bodies of live dancers on the proscenium stages, how does one visualize the long lost legacy of a past master performer? Can one reconfigure -- from the mere paraphernalia left behind -- the magic of the dazzling shows that have vanished into oblivion?  One wonders.
Uday Shankar, whose 116th birth anniversary was celebrated recently by Udayan Kala Kendra from Kolkata, was such a luminary - both as a performer and as a showman – best remembered by all those who had witnessed even his late flowerings: either in the magnificent shadow play on the Buddha, or in the scintillating dance-drama on Tagore’s Samanya Kshati (The Negligible Loss), or in the superbly-imagined Shankarscope that amalgamated dance, drama and cinema,  all rolled into one seamless whole.

In the exhibition mounted by Udayan, the effort was not only to present the photographs, musical instruments and props used by the maestro, but also to enlighten people about the immense contribution of Uday Shankar in the field of performing arts in general and dance in particular. 

Read the article in the site

Saturday 17 December 2016

Stirrings and Stillness, Sounds and Silence - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Dance is a movement experience that takes us along a journey: with or without  words. As a unique physical discipline in which emotional, psychological, spiritual, intellectual and creative energies are unified and harmonised, dance allows our bodies to feel, think, speak, memorize, express and communicate effectively through movement. Dance also liberates people’s bodies and allows them to use unusual movement styles outside the limited restrictions of their daily lives. 

The recent workshop on Creative Movement Therapy, organised by Rhythmosaic from Kolkata and facilitated by Tripura Kashyap, co-founder of Creative Movement Therapy Association of India – and herself a noted choreographer, movement therapist and dance educator: groomed first in Kalakshetra and later in the USA - focussed on free-style movement techniques that unlock our body capacity to communicate and express better. The accent on movement was essentially non-judgmental and adapted itself to a wide variety of body types and personalities. It also helped participants to liberate from habitual movement patterns and to discover a new, dynamic body language.  

Read the
interview with the facilitator in the site

Thursday 15 December 2016

Konark Festival beckons again - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

With the magnificent tower of the historic 13th century temple of the Ganga King Narasingha Deva dedicated to the Sun God as backdrop, the elaborately decorated open air auditorium at Konark (with the road leading to it  showcasing the aesthetics of hand crafted lanterns, tomba-s and  colourful Pipli umbrellas hung upside down,  not to speak of the intricacy of the Rangoli patterns on the floor),  once again became the venue for showcasing group productions of Odissi along with other pan-Indian classical dance forms. The Odisha Tourism department has over the years added attractions like the Sand Art Festival at the nearby Chandrabhaga Beach and a Handloom and Handicrafts festival – all built round the main dance event, enhancing the tourist’s interest. Spacing for the audience has been neatly expanded. Another fine improvement was in the Sand Art arena with artists given independent slots near the sea with its rippling waves and plying boats, with the entire walk from exhibit to exhibit carpeted, and the visitor spared the cumbersome ploughing through mounds of sand. Given its glorious sunrise behind the sea, and attractions of hawkers selling their ware, Chandrabhaga beach was a daily crowd puller.

Read the review in the site

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Recall the then to plan the now of the Kalinga Indonesia Dialogue - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

How does a seminar on an interaction between two countries, relate to a dance event, one may well ask. It does, specially, when the regions involved are Indonesia and what was the then Kalinga Empire in India, which comprised much of present day Odisha. There was also the special relationship with Indonesia shared by late Chief Minister of Odisha, Biju Patnaik, whose significant interventions at a very important point in Indonesian history earned him recognition as ‘Bhumi Putra’. The Sadabha-s who set sail from ancient Kalinga, took with them their ideas too, to the countries they traded with. If Odisha events like ‘Boita Bandana’, the Ballad of “Taw-Poi” and Khudurukuni Osa and “A-Ka-Ma-Bai” in Odisha are a throwback of the past ties, the temples of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, the Javanese Prambanan, names like Sita Suleiman and Maulana Vishnu (mentioned in his talk by Prof. V. Suryanarayana specialising in South and South-East Asian studies), Buddhist monuments and flourishing Hinduism in Bali and pockets of other places like Java and Sumatra in Indonesia tell their own tales of the past interactions. Two highly populous nations, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural, India and Indonesia apart from shared values, have been linked by over two thousand year old cultural ties. Both won independence in mid-twentieth century, shaking off the shackles of years of colonial domination. 

Read the review in the site

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Stellar presentations at DIAF - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

The Capital was agog with a series of dance performances of dancers within India and abroad, as Delhi International Arts Festival filled up the various venues with mind boggling variety of performing arts. The open air Meghdoot Theatre of Sangeet Natak Akademi was one of the venues for classical Indian dances. With a tree at the back of the stage and sky as the canopy with full moon and stars shooting in all directions, the dancers performing there created magic.

Read the review in the site

Monday 5 December 2016

Interview - Rama Vaidyanathan: Some perspectives

Can you define your relationship with Bharatanatyam? How has your relationship with the dance form evolved over the years?
It is like an intense love affair that has grown, evolved and matured over the years. My understanding of the nuances of the dance form grows deeper with every passing day, and the constant dialogue I have with my dance enhances our relationship and makes it reach higher realms. 

Read the complete interview in the site

Thursday 1 December 2016

Anita says...December 2016

A year ago. The evening of December 1, 2016, two Tempo vans were floating in a sea of torrential rain water. The vans were carrying 10 dancers en route to the airport for a tour of Thailand. The passengers never reached their destination. After 2 hours of nerve wracking traffic and abandoned cars, the vehicles returned to my home filled with teary eyed, dejected dancers. It was ARANGHAM DANCE THEATRE’s South East Asia tour of Thailand and Cambodia - a tour that the #CHENNAIFLOODS ensured did not happen.

What followed in my city over the next 5 days is history.

The paralyzed state government was unable to handle the crisis of their own making. The rains did less damage than the opening of the reservoir pipes at midnight while we were asleep! What did emerge was the citizen’s call to action and the thrilling way in which strangers helped one another. The city of Bengaluru rushed - it seemed en masse - to help our marooned Chennaites! Artistes were homeless and many lost everything in those terrible, dark and gloomy days. The national and international call for aid was met with a spontaneous and generous outpouring of aid in so many forms besides cash - a heartwarming display of generosity and camaraderie.

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Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - December 2016

Wednesday 30 November 2016

New Benchmarks in Bharatanatyam and Orissi - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar

What makes a benchmark performance? Is it the content or the costumes, music or make up, script or students, aesthetics or artistry? Or all of above and more? 
In the month that was, 5 interesting BN performances, by 4 rising stars of the form, in 4 different cities can be assessed as trends in the form. Geeta Chandran in Delhi; Zakir Hussain, A. Lakshman (from Malaysia settled in Madras, so as not to be mistaken for the great Adyar Lakshman) and Roja Kannan of Chennai; Jyotsna Jagannathan in Bangalore and much junior in age and experience, Vaidehi Rele of Mumbai.

Read the review in the site

Sunday 27 November 2016

Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company perform in India - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

It was indeed a pleasant surprise during a crowded week to attend a dance performance of Dakshina Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya’s Sannidhi Auditorium in Delhi. I have met Daniel in Washington DC and attended a few performances during my visits. He has been doing excellent work. Dakshina is a dynamic and diverse dance company led by him. Daniel has chosen the name Dakshina, meaning “offering” in Sanskrit and in keeping with this spirit, Dakshina is offering artists and communities the unique opportunity to experience dance as a movement that links the arts, cultures and social causes.

Read the review in the site

Saturday 26 November 2016

Mothers by Daughters & Others - The journey continues - Malavika Sarukkai

When I think of my mother Saroja Kamakshi, I recall with deep fondness her passionate desire to live life creatively. This was her mantra. She was a person unsatisfied with the ordinary, the predictable, the clichéd.  For her, life meant being courageous and taking risks to follow one’s calling. And it is in this  spirit of faith and passion that I took up dance full time and later went on to create over the last 30 years, a large body of work shaped by my thinking.

Read the article in the site

Thursday 24 November 2016

Holding a legacy aloft - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

 The story goes that the virtuoso dancer Uday Shankar -- a debutante in London in the 1920s -- was presented, one evening, a Nataraja sculpture. Awestruck by the statuette and gazing intently upon the figure, he could not sleep the whole night. By the time the first sunrays struck the London mist, the insomniac artiste began getting the vibes into his dancer’s limbs: the body-dynamics that could possibly lead on to the divine stance and the aesthetic gestures that could flow out from it. The early Shankar was like that: a complete natural, honed more by Indian iconography and Rajput miniatures, and drawing sustenance from intuition and exposure, than ever groomed by a hard-core training regimen.

Sabari, a dance-drama premiered recently by Udayan Kala Kendra, the dance institution of Mamata Shankar Dance Company from Kolkata, was a handiwork that used the best of the Shankar ethos under the competent scripting, choreography, costumes and direction of his gifted daughter, Mamata Shankar. 

Amritasya Putra, presented by the same troupe on the following evening, was based on an abstract theme this time, while still using instrumental music. Again conceived and directed by Mamata Shankar in her father’s footsteps, the dance-drama was unfolded in a few stages.

Read the review in the site

Sunday 20 November 2016

Vanashree Rama Rao’s emergence as choreographer - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

The title of the performance at IIC Fountain Lawns, presented by India International Centre, supported by Takshila Education Society was ‘Timeless tales of Gods and Goddesses, Men and Demons, Love and Devotion’, conceived and choreographed by Kuchipudi dancer Vanashree Rama Rao. It was a compact and thoroughly well rehearsed presentation performed by professional dancers from three different streams of Indian classical dance - Mayurbhanj Chhau, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. The teamwork was exemplary with vocals by K. Venkatesh, Dr. S. Vasudevan, flute by Rajat Prasanna, violin by Master Raghavendra and percussion instruments by R. Keshavan who handled mridangam, tabla, pakhavaj, khol, and kanjira for dramatic effect. Nattuvangam was by Dr. S. Vasudevan. The music was recorded.

Read the review in the site

Saturday 19 November 2016

Re-imagining Tagore in style - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Bhowanipur Baikali Association presented recently in the packed, spacious Nazrul Manch a fascinating collage of those formative years, illumined by prose and poetry narratives by film and theatre luminaries; live music by an amazingly large band of 230-strong male and female singers; and scintillating choreography by some of Kolkata’s best-known dancers. Conceived and directed by the noted musician Pramita Mallick, and ably supported by a well-researched folio of still and video projections, the program gently led the spectators - one by one - into the times of the kid who would strut endlessly in the corridors of a closed mansion; the child who would furtively glance out of his school windows on the kites flying outside; the boy who would be given his first outing with the father to Bolpur meadows, Allahabad fort, Amritsar’s Golden Temple and  Dalhousie on the snow capped Himalayas, in that order; and finally, the youth who would be first taken to Ahmedabad and Bombay, and later – across the seven seas – to Brighton in England for studying law, but primarily for savouring the music and dance of an alien West.
In between, Tagore’s mind slowly opened up to the colours and cadenza of the outside world. 

Read the review in the site

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Tremors from borderlands - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Rhythmosaic made recently in Kolkata a praiseworthy effort to touch upon a few such shibboleths with their trans-border implications and launched what could be termed a full-blooded attack and not just a surgical strike. The assault was spearheaded by Anita Ratnam – a perennial favourite on both sides of the Vindhyas -- with her new creation, Prism.  

Read the review in the site

Sunday 13 November 2016

Berlin Diary - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

 During one of my visits to Frankfurt for World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific Organization, I had met Rajyashree Ramesh, a Bharatanatyam dancer from Bangalore, settled in Berlin. At that time diplomat Mr. Malay Mishra was in Berlin. He had come across my articles on dance, in particular, on Odissi and had found them interesting. Being an Odiya, his interest was naturally in revival of Odissi, but he also appreciated other forms like Kathak and Bharatanatyam.

During my visit to Berlin, he invited me to an evening of classical dance performances. From Essen, Birju Maharaj’s disciple Durga Arya had come to perform Kathak and Rajyashree was to perform Bharatanatyam. Both of them are versatile dancers in their chosen idioms. On that evening, however Durga Arya was in great form and overshadowed Bharatanatyam with breathtaking chakkars, pirouettes, and footwork. I had known Durga Arya in Delhi performing Kathak under supervision of Birju Maharaj and she is an excellent Kathak dancer. Even when she migrated to Essen, Kathak biradari, community, remembers her well for her outstanding quality of Kathak.  Rajyashree was a little upset for scheduling Kathak earlier than Bharatanatyam.

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Thursday 10 November 2016

Anekanta provides exhilarating Bharatanatyam experience - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Woven round Jain philosophy of truth manifesting through  multiple realities, Natya Vriksha’s twenty-fifth anniversary, given founder Geeta Chandran’s explorative creativity,  became an exhilarating experience, for artists and audience - the performance at the packed Kamani auditorium in Delhi showcasing in a way, the elasticity of the Bharatanatyam technique in expressing off beat themes. What impressed was the overall package with the organisational details worked out meticulously. Inspired by the research of author Sudhamahi Regunathan, the two evenings could not have asked for a more fitting curtain-raiser than the scholar’s own superb enunciation on the theme of Anekanta - of truth being relative, its entirety realised only by one who has attained that final state of consciousness (‘Kaivalya’). Now more than ever perhaps the world needs to understand the wisdom enshrined in the philosophy that apparent contradictions are but manifestations of one ultimate harmony and that polarities can co-exist in perfect amity.

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Wednesday 9 November 2016

Poem - Dancing to reach the statue of liberty - Bhavanvitha Venkat

They all danced beautifully,
and the corporates rewarded him
with applause in heart they felt rich
returned journeys in the sleeper unreserved
he flew in the sky disturbed...

Read the poem in the site

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Roses and Thorns - In defense of the white male critic - Bruno Kavanagh

Every dancer wishes for ONE GREAT REVIEW in the New York Times which for the United States has been the arbiter of dance taste and values. British critic and American transplant Alastair Macaulay has been in love with classical Indian dance for decades and his continued Orientalism is constantly overlooked for the prestige of the masthead he writes for. Here is a recent example of his retro "take" on his favourite group NRITYAGRAM of Bangalore. The article
And here is a response to Macaulay's review from Bruno Kavanagh, no stranger to the expressive arts, and spouse of dancer Preeti Vasudevan.
- Anita Ratnam

On November 3rd, the New York Times carried what can only be described as a rave review of an Odissi presentation by Nrityagram, who’d performed at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre in Manhattan the previous night.

“[Nrityagram’s performers are] among the world’s greatest dancers” oozed the NYT’s most senior dance critic Alastair Macaulay, “I have sometimes found Odissi the single most beautiful dance-form I’ve experienced.” This is high praise indeed from Macaulay - a man not shy of wielding the hatchet when he feels it’s  merited.

I sent the review to an Indian friend, based in the US (a member of the “Indian classical dance community” if such a thing can be said to exist—which I think it can.). I thought she’d be pleased that an Indian classical form was getting such positive attention from the senior critic of the most influential paper in the United States.

Read the article in the site 

Saturday 5 November 2016

Book Review - My Beautiful Journey - Kashmir to Kanyakumari - Prabal Gupta

Dr. C.K. Gariyali’s My Beautiful Journey - Kashmir to Kanyakumari published by Authors Upfront with foreword by N. Ram – the chairman and the publisher of The Hindu Group of Newspapers, is a lovely story of a young woman turned to a bureaucrat. The book delineates the author’s journey as Chander Kanta – a young girl from downtown Srinagar where she was born to Old Delhi. The story then takes us to her career front at the National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie where she was trained, met her fiancée Dr. Raj Kumar  and then to Tamil Nadu where she spent her entire working life and then later settled down in Chennai.

Read the review in the site

Friday 4 November 2016

Young dancers put their best foot forward - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

It was heartening to see the young generation of dancers putting their best foot forward in a three-day (Oct 18-20, 2016) dance and music festival organized by Raza Foundation. Uttaradhikar, conceived by Kathak dancer Prerana Shrimali, under the series of Guru Shishya Parampara, the disciples of senior dancers of Raza Foundation Awardees for dance and music were presented at Habitat Centre, Delhi. Also leading art historians and academic scholars were invited to give a brief history of tradition of Guru Shishya Parampara.

Read the review in the site

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - November 2016

Anita says...November 2016

You are reading this while I am in sunny southern California - SoCal for short. Presenting an important paper for CORD/SDHS at Pomona College, I am joined with the empathetic and astute academic Dr. Ketu Katrak of the University of California, Irvine. Together we have created a template that documents and shares my journey over the past 22 years in reviving and restaging the 15th century ritual KAISIKA NATAKAM that is performed annually at my ancestral village temple in Tirukurungudi, Tamilnadu. Wherever we have made this presentation - Stockholm, Santiago, Barcelona and now in Pomona, erudite audiences have watched and listened in rapt attention. Granted, some find the layered braiding of religion, performance, festival, celebration and social gathering a tad too "enthusiastic" for their austere faith beliefs, but it is this very "quilting" that makes performance traditions so rich and intense in a society like India. 

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Sunday 30 October 2016

In the Kingdom of Banasura and 6th edition of Nritya Kalpa Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

In Gujarat we have akhyan, long poem by poet Premananda who has written Okha Haran, the   kidnapping of Okha (Usha), daughter of the demon Banasura. In Andhra in Kuchipudi also there is a dance-drama Usha Parinayam on the same theme. In Assamese language, Tez stands for rudhir, blood and Tezpur derives its name from the river of blood that flooded the city when war took place between Hari and Hara. Shonit is another name for blood and Banasura’s kingdom, city was named as Shonitpur. It is a fascinating story and well known to Assamese people, and Gujaratis. Banasura had a varadan, blessing from Lord Shiva after severe penance that he will be invincible with his thousand arms, till his arms are broken by some superior divinity. There was also akashvani that the grandson of Lord Krishna would marry his daughter Usha and kill him.

Read the review in the site

Friday 28 October 2016

Ideate, Instill, Inspire - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar

AA: Not the Automobile Association or Alcoholics Anonymous but Annette & Anuj. Both from as vast spaces as Paris and Pari-war (family feud) Lucknow; Kathakali and Kathak. By now my comment in my many columns long ago has gone viral. The comment was that one Indian dance writer - a clueless dance writer/ from foreign service, hence almost a foreigner! (most live outside India half their lives, so can be clueless about Indian culture) - who had 3 columns going around on dance in Delhi, 3 decades ago asked me, “When did Ali get added to Kathak? (to become Kathakali?)” has gone viral and in every seminar and city I speak in now, with my films on dance history and heritage, someone in the audience pops up this question seeking identity of this great late writer. I say let dead remain dead. No ghost writing here!

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Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness column - Dancing is NOT aerobic exercise! - Dr. Madhu Thottappilli

Last month a lady came to me for a consultation with regard to her daughter, all of about 14 or 15 years old for some elbow related issue. While in the course of discussion I noticed that the young girl was slightly obese. Just out of concern, I generally quizzed her on what sports she was into, her mother cut in and said she was into classical dancing and that was taking up her extra time and hence she had no time for sports or any other forms of fitness activity.  She also went on to convey that since her daughter was getting the needed exercise from dancing, she didn’t need anything extra. 

This got me thinking about the numerous times I have had this conversation with professional and amateur dancers who are very complacent in the thought that their dancing and the practice that went into their performances were adequate exercise. ‘Dancing is not aerobic exercise’ was the take away that I read from a recent article in an international journal of Sports and Exercise medicine.

Read the article in the site

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness column - Health Recipes 7: Crispy Fish with a Citrus Dressing - Uma Pushpanathan

Serves: 4
Per serving: 1.4Kj
Preparation and Cooking Time: 45 minutes

View the recipe in the site

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Article - The elements of margam - Chandra Anand

Margam is the presentation format of the Bharatanatyam dance form. Through the presentation it imparts the knowledge of the interminable truth – “All human beings are the limited manifestation of the Ultimate Being” [1] and suggests that the goal of every single being in the world is “reunion of the soul with the Absolute Soul” [2]. The margam suggests a spiritual path.
Through “the elements of margam”, the theme of evolution of the self/spirit on the spiritual path is put forth. In truly “epical style” [3], the theme is carried forward. At the outset, the truth of the human life (allaripu) is put forward, then the zenith that a human being has the possibilities to reach (varnam) and then the realities of life (padams and javalis) and ends expressing the hope to attain or regain the epitome of life (shloka).

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Sunday 23 October 2016

Akademi awardees prove mettle - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

With such cataclysmic changes in the entire Sangeet Natak Akademi hierarchy, one did not know what to expect of the annual awards festival, after the conferring of the awards at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by the President of India. But I guess certain things do not change, and so it was this year too. For what has become, over the years, an increasingly in-house event, attracting a small interested niche audience, the intimate spaces of the Meghdoot I and II and III theatres provide just the right venue.
To start on a favourable note, SNA’s fellowship awarded to Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar was a laudable choice and a decision the Akademi can be proud of. And this 81 year old gave a performance that will not be easily forgotten. To choose a varnam like Papanasam Sivan’s Nattakuranji composition “Saami naan undan adimai enru ulagamellam ariyume” and present it without compromising on the araimandi stance or on the daunting double speed in the charanam part, is a very demanding proposition for even a young dancer – and in the case of an artist so senior, clichéd words of praise describing the performance seem inadequate. Starting with the famous hymn in praise of Nataraja, every aspect like the twinkling arudi-s executed to perfection, the excellent jati-s with ‘sarukkai’ movements done with such finish, and the image of the dancing Lord with the devotee’s thirst for a glimpse of the same and ecstasy at being able to feast his eyes on Him in the garbhagriha, were all brought out with Sudha Raghuraman providing deeply felt, tuneful vocal support, adding up to a never to be forgotten experience. The seasoned accompanists Jaya Chandrasekhar (nattuvangam), G. Raghuraman (flute) and M.V. Chandrasekhar (mridangam) added to the totality.

Read the review in the site

Saturday 22 October 2016

Mothers by Daughters & Others - Oh, how I miss you! - Ananda Shankar Jayant

My mother Subhashini Shankar bequeathed to us three sisters, great wealth – of searing honesty, a commitment to fight for justice, positive attitude, and a bouquet of charming stories, sayings and anecdotes for every occasion and event! Born into a large family, she grew up in Chennai learning music and later violin from TN Krishnan, and also Sanskrit. With marriage bringing her to Secunderabad, she adapted to Telugu, and Urdu, even as she nearly bought – heaven forbid! - prawns from the roadside vendor, thinking it sounded like Vendakkai (Okhra) in Tamil! Blasphemy or what to a vegetarianTam Brahm!
Contrary to popular choice and wishes for a male heir, during pregnancy, she prayed for a daughter, who she would train to be an artiste – maybe to fulfil her own dreams. And so, her first child was introduced to dance at the age of 4. Yes, that was me - as she found my first Guru Sharada Keshava Rao, at the Subrahmanyaswami temple. A gold medal at a national competition, followed by a summer holiday in hot Chennai, a visit to Kalakshetra, a blessing from the great Rukmini Devi Arundale herself,  saw a teary eyed 11 year old daughter bid farewell at the hostel gates of Kalakshetra to an equally teary eyed mother, as I was enrolled as a full time dance student

Friday 21 October 2016

Nitya Nritya Dance Festival 2016 - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Dr. Lalitha Srinivasan has been holding annually under the aegis of Nupura, her dance institution in Bangalore, Nitya Nritya dance festival for the past 30 years. There was a break for few years, but for past 7 years she has resumed the annual dance festival with seminars.

I have attended in early 80s and participated in seminars. With Aloka Kanungo I had given an illustrated talk with slides of Odisha temple sculptures to which Aloka had performed various poses as created by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. In earlier years I was fortunate to witness abhinaya by legendary Venkatalakshamma from Mysore. Ah, what a treat it was! As a matter of fact it all started with Lalitha’s wish to visit temples in Odisha, Tanjore, see Rasalila in Imphal, Manipur. Late BVK Sastry, a friend of Lalitha and Srinivasan suggested why not organize a conference in Bangalore and invite great gurus and dancers, hold seminars and performances, so that dance lovers of Bangalore also can witness their great art.

Read the review in the site

Sunday 16 October 2016

Vienna Diary: Natya Mandir and Radha Anjali - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Vienna University (Universitat Wien) confirmed my lecture and screenings of the excerpts of films on Uday Shankar, Ram Gopal and Mrinalini Sarabhai on June 16, 2016, well in advance, therefore the last leg of my Europe tour was finalized and I had a glorious week in Vienna, the beautiful capital of Austria. The lecture was held at the seminar room of The Institute for South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies. By a happy coincidence, celebrated Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan with her husband Herbert Traxl, former Ambassador to India, was also in town. After retirement, Traxl also gives lectures in the same university.
Radha Anjali, a disciple of Kamadev, Adyar K. Lakshman and Kalanidhi Narayanan runs her institution Natya Mandir in Vienna for past 30 years. Thanks to Kamadev, we had met many   years ago when I had visited Vienna with Kamadev. They were to perform Seraikella Chhau dances in Vienna. I was instrumental in introducing Kamadev to Seraikella Chhau in 1968 when we met In London. I had taken with me few copies of special issue of Marg edited by me on Chhau Dances of India (Dec1968).

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Saturday 15 October 2016

Book Review - The liberating dance - Natya Tantra- S.V. Indu

‘The liberating dance - Natya Tantra’ is an erudite exposition on the subject of Natyam as a meticulously designed tool that enables its practitioner to be truly spiritual. Appropriate illustrations and a rich bibliography at the end make this profound subject a comfortable read and conducive even for non-dancers. The author Dr. Padmaja Suresh (Director, Aatmalaya Academy, Bangalore), places an overview of Tantra and Natya in the beginning chapter. It explores the fundamental principle of Tantra Sastra through the works of Dattatreya and the essence of other Tantric treaties like Anukaranasabdasastram, Chitrakarma, Sivaswarodayam etc. apart from also understanding the significance of Natya as a consecration process.  

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Thursday 13 October 2016

Reviving Kuchipudi Yakshagana demands more than showcasing - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

To bring back the glory of Kuchipudi Yakshagana is what every lover of dance would welcome. And this would seem to be the aim of the new effort which has been named International Dance Research and Training Centre at Kuchipudi, the village where the entire story of this dance began centuries ago.  Abu Hassan Tanisha, the Nawab of Golkonda (1672-1687 A.D), on a visit to Machilipatnam where he was treated to an impressive performance by a Nataka group (harnessing music, dance and the spoken word in a total theatre form) gifted land in appreciation to the actors, for establishing a dance village. But today’s sleepy Kuchipudi village, with hardly any survivors from the halcyon past of the Yakshagana tradition, lives largely on memories.  

Read the article in the site

Sunday 9 October 2016

2nd edition of ‘Nrityabritti Batayan’ festival at Durgapur - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Durgapur is ‘a steel city,’ by road three hours away from Kolkata. It does not boast of any major cultural events except as happens in Bengal, the biggest event is Durga Puja. Therefore when I received the invitation from Nrityabritti Batayan’s director Kalamandalam Swarnadeepa, a Mohiniattam and Bharatanatyam dancer, I was quite surprised. The line up of dancers for the two day festival was quite varied, consisting of several dance forms including Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Kathak, Yakshagana and Bharatanatyam jugalbandi. The music component consisted of renowned Bengali musician Sourendra Malik and Soumyajit Das from Kolkata, Sutanu Sarkar from Santinketan and Inamee Chakravarty and Saurabh Gangauly.

The celebrated senior dancers were Sujata Mohapatra (Odissi) from Bhubaneswar, 
Vyjayanthi Kashi and her daughter Prateeksha Kashi (Kuchipudi) from Bangalore. The child prodigy Shreenika with her mother Sonalka (Odissi) from Bangalore, Sandip Malik (Kathak) and his troupe from Kolkata, Swaranadeepa and her troupe from Durgapur, Surojit Deb Barman from Agartala and S. Yogandan Singh (Manipuri) from Imphal, both trained at Shantiniketan, Dipjyoti and Dipankar, Sattriya dancers from Guwahati, Ullal brothers from Mangalore (Yakshagana and Bharatanatyam jugalbandi) and dancers of Saurabh group (Bharatanatyam) from Kolkata. Kalamandalam Gautam from Kolkata was to perform Kathakali but since he was involved with back stage assistance, he dropped the idea of performing traditional Kathakali with elaborate make up and aharya.

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Saturday 1 October 2016

Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - October 2016

Anita says...October 2016

- American President Harry Truman

As war clouds collect across our national borders, the festival season has also descended.
It is a surreal time. Streets and shops are filled to bursting with merchandise and buyers are everywhere loosening purse strings.
Armed guards stand vigilant at all public monuments and temples.
Airports and train stations have doubled security personnel as men and women in brightly festive clothes stream onto the streets.
The immediate future looks filled with storm clouds waiting to burst.


Read the message in the site

Thursday 29 September 2016

Sastra, Shishya, Shah - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar

In dance world, we often hear the word sastra or shastras. NATYA being most known and cited, forget the fact very few dancers in the country (except perhaps Padma Subrahmanyam who knows Sanskrit and its in-depth meaning and follows its tenets to a T, or the Dhananjayans) maintain its core essence, in form and use; in shape or size as NATYAshastra describes!

So to see eager students graduating from Sastra University of Tanjore, at a special ceremony, was interesting. I must confess had I not been invited as one of main guests, I wouldn’t be privy to the proceedings because it was not a public event. Just parents, pandits of arts and President of the Music Academy N. Murali for the degree conferment of BFA and MFA students of Bharatanatyam of  Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy= Sastra University! Its Harvard returned Dean, S. Vaidhyasubramaniam looked humble despite high credentials but then this is Tamil culture. High thinking, simple living.  Not much show just substance. Mahati Kannan, with bright shining eyes (shows tejaswa) sang in praise of Madurai Meenakshi by way of an invocation, followed by a short dance presentation by senior dancer Vasanthalakshmi Narasimhachari, MFA degree recipient and winner of this year's DIRECTOR SUBRAHMAYAM  ENDOWMENT AWARD. All this, under the benevolent but stern watchful eyes of other Meenakshi-eyed of Madras, the one and only truly academically inclined star senior dancer-guru-scholar of India -- Dr. Padma Subrahmayam.  

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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Experienced nayikas attract large turnout - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

It was a strangely warming sight at the Habitat watching helpless organisers turning away throngs of people waiting outside, because of no vacant seat in the packed Stein auditorium! And this, wonder of wonders, for Lalit Arpan, the annual  classical dance festival hosted by Kathak artist/teacher Shovana Narayan’s institution! With a different theme each year, avoiding a feel of predictability, this event has allowed itself sufficient elasticity to respond to varying impulses. This year’s choice of the Ashta Nayika theme based on Vidyapati’s poetry, featuring senior, ‘Padmashri awardees’ only (made very clear in the introductions) certainly attracted a large turnout, particularly on the opening evening. Rasa as an intellectual perception calls for a deep mental culture an artist develops through years spent in the art form. So the selection of seniors was dictated by wisdom, and Vidyapati’s poetry given its Jayadeva like bold sensuality in describing the sringar of the Radha/Krishna relationship, is hardly for the less mature performer though the Radha of Vidyapati, a parakeeya like Jayadeva’s, is less brazen about her relationship with Krishna.

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Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Health Recipes 6: Miso Soup - Uma Pushpanathan

Health Recipes 6: Miso Soup
- Uma Pushpanathan

Serves 4
Per Serving: 360kJ
Preparation and Cooking Time: 15 minutes

View the recipe in the site

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness column - Balance of life - the goldilocks effect - Jayashree Gopal

Everything in our body is balanced perfectly. Not too high or too fast, not too low or too slow. All things – just right. Imagine the perfect aramandi. An experienced dancer knows the exact angle at which to sit – too much and the symmetry is lost, and too little, it is not an aramandi. It is just right.
I am always struck by the parallels in our physiology. Take for example sugar – it has to be maintained between 70 – 120 mg/dl, and our body does this very elegantly. When we eat or are under stress, our blood sugar levels start to rise, and the signal immediately goes to the pancreas, which secretes hormones including insulin, and glucagon, which go into the blood stream, and exert their effects, so that the blood sugar almost immediately comes back into the normal range. Now imagine this happening EVERY single second of our life. It is a wonder that more of us do not develop diabetes, considering the abuse we throw at our pancreas right from birth.  We all know the problems that occur from having too high blood sugars – it affects the heart, the kidney, the eyes, the nerves, the brain – everything in our body works less effectively when blood sugars are too high.

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Mothers by Daughters & Others - I’m also coming! - Rama Vaidyanathan

She was nine months pregnant with her fourth child and was an ardent dance lover. Never learnt it formally, but over the years had developed a deep understanding of the dance form as well as its content. She went to watch the prima donna Yamini Krishnamurthy perform at the College of Military Engineering, Pune, where her Army officer husband was posted. So overwhelmed was she by the dance that the infant inside her womb started kicking with great vigour. To top it all, much to the chagrin of the people around her she with her huge belly stood up on a chair to get a better view of the dancer’s feet dancing the Tarangam! “This child inside me has to learn dance from this dancer!”she declared to herself. 

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Sunday 25 September 2016

Interface 2016: Festival of international choreographic works - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

The 8th edition of the international dance biennale Interface 2016 was staged in Delhi at Habitat Centre, followed by its performances in Kolkata at Satyajit Ray Auditorium and Kala Mandir on 9, 10 and 11 September. Interface festival for cotemporary expressions covers dance, music, installations, paintings, fashion, theatre and cinema. This was the 25th year of Sapphire Creations established by Sudarshan Chakravorty, Artistic Director, dancer, choreographer and director of Interface along with co-director and director of Artsforward, Paramita Saha. They have been carrying on with grit and determination and deserve congratulations for their sustained efforts.

Read the review in the site

Saturday 24 September 2016

Article - Dance: An integral part of human existence - Sudha Sridhar

(This article was published in a special edition 2015 book released by Nrityanjali Cultural Organisation, Hyderabad, on the occasion of World Dance Day, ‘Nrityanjali - A Tribute to Dance.’ Reproduced here with permission.)

Dance and music has always been an integral part of existence of human life right from time immemorial, probably suggesting that it has descended along with human beings right from the source itself.

It is quite true for all life forms too, namely a bird chirping in the woods, a peacock dancing, the nimble footed movements of some of the animals akin to rhythmic dance, the swaying of the plants and trees to the breeze, the perennial splashing of the waves of the seas, sound of river flowing, the thunder and the accompanying rains are all but a small simile of the endless dimensions through which nature expresses itself in sound and motion in a captivating manner.

Influenced both by the surroundings and also responding to the natural instinct, it is all but natural that the human being who is supposed to be pinnacle of nature’s creation in this planet called Earth too have found dance, music or together more often as an automatic choice for expression of joy in particular and the varied myriad emotions that humans are capable of emoting like happiness, pain, grief, fear, hope, etc. It is often heard and seen that dance and music is not limited to any particular creed or strata, it moves both the mass and class of the society in its own way since it is basically an expression born out of the inner core of one’s existence. 

View the article in the site

Thursday 22 September 2016

Roses & Thorns - Public notice to Sangeet Natak Akademi

Announcement in The Indian Express dated Sept 21, 2016 about dispute regarding Karnataka nominee. 

View the announcement in the site

Sangam: Innovations in Odissi - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Ileana Citaristi, the celebrated Odissi dancer and choreographer, explores new themes in Odissi. The latest is ‘Akshara’ that she choreographed for her 12th annual Sangam festival. It was presented on 13th September at Ravindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar.

By a happy coincidence, during my recent visit to Bhubaneswar, I had an opportunity to watch the rehearsal of this latest choreography. She has been receiving excellent support by the noted poet Devdas Chhotray, former Vice Chancellor of Ravenshaw University. For Ileana, he has scripted ‘Kaal’ (Time) and ‘Karuna’ for her homage to Mother Teresa.  Another collaboration is in terms of music. Laxmikant Palit, the renowned musician of Odisha, has set the music appropriate to the theme.

Read the article in the site

Monday 19 September 2016

Remembering Manjusri Chaki Sircar - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Dancers’Guild arranged a memorial lecture and presentation of one of the choreographic works Chitrangada, of late Manjusri Chaki Sircar, a dancer, choreographer, educationist, thinker and believer in extending the boundaries of dance, at Satyajit Ray Auditorium on the premises of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Kolkata, on 4th September.
Holding a PhD in Anthropology on the topic Women of Manipur, Manjusri, with MA from Presidency College in Bengal, went for further studies to Columbia University, USA. In 1945 she was one of the leading dancers in a team of progressive artists who believed in performing Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s poems to the singing and compositions of Tagore’s songs by George Da, Debabrata Biswas. They were all radical artists. Women dancers dared performing with men on equal terms and along with them. Manjusri held many radical views which found felicitous expressions in her later works on her return to Kolkata after a career as dancer and Professor in Anthropology at New Paltz University near New York.

Tall, attractive, articulate and with a strong stage presence, Manjusri was influenced by Tagore’s ideas of Modernism. It was not blindly following the West and following the traditional and classical dance forms without changing them or experimenting with them. They were resources which Tagore insisted upon exploring. Also to look at South East Asia, to the dance heritage of Java, Bali and also Sri Lanka. His daughter-in-law Pratima Devi had visited Europe with him and studied Modern dance from Mary Wigman of Germany.

Read the article in the site

Sunday 18 September 2016

From diets to lifestyle changes: Being in the driver’s seat - Sathya Nagaraj - Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness column

I’ve recently embarked on a journey of taking back control of my body, and the results have been rewarding. I’m here to share some of those secrets, tips and recipes with you, so like me, you can begin to see the advantages of a change in lifestyle, rather than a new fad diet. Many of us women have tried at least some of the trendy diets, such as the Israeli army diet, Cabbage soup diet, Atkins diet, the 5:2 diet and so on and so forth. But our body is mostly in the yo yo mode and a very small percentage of us have succeeded in shedding any weight at all and, more  importantly, keeping it off......

Without further adieu, here is introducing the Go Green Smoothie!
Go Green Smoothie

Saturday 17 September 2016

Keeping legacy alive while forging new directions - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

“After Kelucharan, what?” was the question on every Odissi lover’s mind. That Srjan, the Guru’s institution carries forward the rich legacy of the master was the expectation of every Odissi aficionado - the Guru having left behind son Ratikant, with years spent under his baton in understanding the dance and mastering the technique of mardal playing, and daughter-in-law Sujatha who in performance epitomised the Guru’s ideals of Odissi lyricism and grace. 

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Wednesday 14 September 2016

Traipsing into light - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

After Dark presented by Damansara Performing Arts Centre from Malaysia -- as the inaugural event of INTERFACE 2016 in Kolkata organized by Sapphire Creations under the able guidance of Sudarshan Chakravorty -- was spun around dreams. According to Wong Jyh Shyong (JS), the artistic director, “Dream is the metaphor of reality. In a dream or in reality, we keep waking up and falling asleep. There are moments when we are trying to stay awake and sometimes we would rather sleep. There are moments when we see nothing but hear everything. Thus, the more we can't see in the darkness, the more we dream…”  

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Sunday 11 September 2016

Tribute - Dinanath Pathy: a Sutra tribute to a Beacon of Art - Ramli Ibrahim

The news of Dr Dinanath Pathy’s demise on the morning of 29 August 2016 came as a double-whammy shock during my breakfast in Bali, literally minutes after I had learnt of the death of another icon, the Australian-Balinese architect, Made Vijaya. I had just spoken of Pathy’s article in Quintessential Sutra during its Bali book release, just the previous day.  I had alluded to Pathy’s connection with Bali - how he was the visualiser of the Kalinga-Bali Yatra (1992) mooted by the former Chief Minister of Odisha, the late Biju Patnaik. My speech had emphasised the continuity of Malaysia-Bali-Odisha connection till the present day. Pathy, who had not been to Bali since, together with artist Lekhasri Samantsinghar and her husband Bijay, had once again travelled to Bali in August 2013, with me as guide. We had a splendid time. Many anecdotes of that landmark Bali-Odisha cultural mission were recounted by Pathy and many jig-saw pieces put in perspective. 

Read the tribute in the site