Thursday 28 January 2016

Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman - Nupur steps into its third decade

For ankle bells which have sounded for over two decades, Goa’s annual Nupur festival spread over three days, marking its 21st consecutive celebration this year, had a modest audience gathering each evening. Carrying a certain aura pervading its performance site, in the precincts of Shree Mahalsa temple at Mardol in Goa, this festival mounted by Kala Academy Goa in association with the West Zone Cultural Centre, was conceived as a means of initiating, what popular perception sees as, a very western oriented people of Goa into the classical dance heritage of India. The event is now perhaps in need of a venue like the Kala Academy’s own aesthetic premises by the sea, frequented by a cosmopolitan clientele. Also the travails of having to travel twenty odd kilometers from Panjam to Mardol for a festival which starting at about 7 o clock ends at nearly 11pm each evening, belies the purpose of the endeavour to reach out to the larger population. The temple grounds with the lit Dnyandeep in the rear bounded on by the temple (very distinctive architecture unlike any other region in India, sporting exquisite chandeliers hanging from the ceiling in the main entrance hall leading to the garbagriha) on one side and living premises for priests and visitors on the other, arguably makes for an attractive setting, the sound of  puja bells and the drums heralding the evening haarti, suiting the ambiance of ‘temple dances.’

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Saturday 23 January 2016

Obit/Tribute - Mrinalini Sarabhai (May 11, 1918 - Jan 21, 2016) - Ashish Mohan Khokar

Born to the most illustrious family of Ammu Swaminathan, Mrinalini Sarabhai was most low key about her high pedigree and station in life.
It was Santiniketan that shaped her interest in art (Indira Gandhi was her hostel mate!) and she then learnt Bharatanatyam properly from two greats - Guru Muthukumara Pillai of Kattumannarkoil, Chidambaram and Guru Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai of Pandanallur. She partnered Ram Gopal and won world acclaim before marrying eminent scientist Vikram Sarabhai, from whom she has two children Kartikeya and Mallika Sarabhai.

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Monday 18 January 2016

A tribute to my Guru Padmini Ramachandran (1944-2016) - Shilpa Nanjappa

Guru Padmini Ramachandran was born in Kerala's Mavallikkara on September 8, 1944. She was   brought up in Chennai and started learning Bharatanatyam under Pandanallur Chokkalingam Pillai. She went on to learn under Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai and performed her arangetram with his guidance. She sprung to popularity and was scouted by several directors which led to her flamboyant yet brief stint with cinema. Her most noteworthy works were Narthanasala opposite N.T. Rama Rao, Iruvar Ullam opposite Sivaji Ganesan and opposite Raj Kapoor in Dil Hi To Hai where she danced in the popular song "Laaga chunari mein daag." Many more opportunities beckoned her into acting but she gave it all up to pursue her true passion - dance.

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Saturday 16 January 2016

Article - Nayika: The modern woman - Shruti Patki

It is a well known fact that literature has always been the wealth of our country. Indian classical arts and literature go hand in hand.  Many dance treatises have been written by ancient Indian authors (not dancers) that are popular even today as handbooks and encyclopaedias. One such piece of literature is Bharata Muni’s Natyashastra. It is believed to be one of the oldest treatises and the one which talks about all Indian arts combined; viz  dance, drama and music. It contains information as well as courses of action so as to help artists design their performance. The Natyashastra talks about how an ideal auditorium should be, and also gives detailed information about the various kinds of plays that can be performed. With dance in mind, Bharata lays down certain guidelines regarding use of hand gestures (mudras), eye movements (drishti bheda), movements and positions of feet (pada bheda and charis), postures arising due to combination of the above (karanas) etc.
In the layman’s terms, “Nayika” means a heroine; the principal subject of any storyline. But does Bharata Muni have the same conception in mind while he describes the Nayikas? I think the answer is negative; the obvious reason being that the text was written sometime between 200 BC and 400 AD, and with the then status of women in mind.

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Friday 8 January 2016

Profile - Veteran mentor Guru Ganesh Hiralal Hasal - Vijay Shankar

Seventy six year old Guru Ganesh Hiralal Hasal is one of the foremost and senior most exponents of the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak dance. He belongs to the seventh generation of classical dancers and musicians, whose contribution towards the propagation and enrichment towards the classical arts spans generations. Although his contribution is immense, he maintains a low profile as he feels that it is the art that has to speak for itself and the artist is only the representative of the art form. The veteran mentor talks about his experiences for more than six decades.

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Friday 1 January 2016

Roving Eye by Anita Ratnam - January 2016

Anita says - January 2016

I am knitting blue wings into my dress
Sewing sparrows in my sleeves

Azadi is the name of my unborn daughter
and perfume of love in my poem’s dress

If I fail to tell my stories of struggle
I will lose myself

- Afghan poet PARI

On the first month of the New Year, I share these lines with the hope that the coming year will not carry scars of violence, savagery and cruelty that 2015 has witnessed. The largest number of displaced peoples in a century, the worst heat and floods in a century, rising fear and hate mongering … 2015 is best behind us.

My own New Year has been marked by the ritual visit to my favorite Chennai temple - Parthasarathy Kovil in Triplicane. As I waited in the long lines at 4 am, the memories of how the entire community bonded during the flood crisis returned. Muslims, Hindus and Christians took refuge inside the temple, and in the aftermath of the chaotic disaster, the Muslim community in Triplicane helped clean the temple before the auspicious month of Margazhi began on December 16th.
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