Thursday 30 June 2016

Teaching is trending this summer season but the emphasis is on learning more and more, from divergent sources. Gurus and gharanas don't matter much more; neither do banis or boons! Who, except a handful, really even know the difference? Gone are the days when a ward sat at the feet of a master to learn seriously for long - 10/20 years. Today 20 weeks seems like eternity!
Lack of REAL gurus has also led to this situation. What are REAL gurus? First and foremost they are NOT in the market. So, they are free of the money angle. Or ego. Or awards. They are not waiting to teach. Only if they feel convinced the seeker is genuine, capable and serious would they take on a ward.  Not like now, come-pay-your-way, learn-abhinaya in a weekend workshop! These gurus also knew EACH and EVERY aspect of dance, not just items. They knew music, they knew literature and they knew shastras. What are shastras? We use words loosely often in India. Shastras are basically four types: Shruti - the recited ones like the Vedas; Smruthi - the remembered ones like the epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata; Shloka - the ritual ones like Tantra and Mantras. Add the Puranas, the rites. 4 r's.

So, how many so-called gurus of today know even one ASPECT or one DEPT. fully or correctly? Not even ten in the whole country, 2 in each form if we are lucky and most of them are about 75, hence last remnants of another era. New gurus, who are basically teachers - acharyas - know only what little they acquired from their gurus and are today palming it off as knowledge or deep art. A case of some better than none?

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Mothers by Daughters & Others - She showed me the way - Vinay Kumar

Figuring out the definition of happiness can be a time consuming preoccupation for all of us in different stages of our life, though parameters for a happy existence can keep changing in time. But definitely we are bound to find an answer to this eternal question sometime in life, though how satisfactory the answer, is very subjective.

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Wednesday 29 June 2016

Obit / Tribute - Kavalam Narayana Panikkar (1928-2016) - Dr. Kanak Rele

On June 26, I lost a dear friend, Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, the renowned poet – dramatist of Kerala. But my association with him has been entirely in Mohiniattam. Some 35 years ago he came searching for me through a common friend. He had heard of my sustained efforts for reviving Mohiniattam which was facing extinction. 

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Tuesday 28 June 2016

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness column - Taking responsibility, staying accountable - Dr. Sheela Nambiar

I have seen too many women fall prey to clever marketing and advertising that promise the perfect body. That’s what sells. Of course, we contribute to this walk down fantasy lane too. We choose to take the easy way out and not question these miracle claims. We make excuses for ourselves and play the victim, thereby relinquishing control of our bodies and health.
I believe we need to be more proactive about choices that concern our bodies. We need to be more discerning about long-term health, not just short-term cosmetic results. We should protect ourselves from falling prey to societal pressure to ‘look’ a certain way. It is not always possible to get to a ‘certain size’. Much depends on genetics and environment, especially lifestyle, stress, work and so on. Comparing oneself with another who is perceived to be ‘beautiful’ or ‘slim’ is a futile exercise.

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Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Towards a new wellness ecology for performers - Health Recipes 3 URAP SAYUR - Uma Pushpanathan

Serves: 2
Preparation and Cooking Time: 30 min
Per Serving: 300 kj

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Thursday 16 June 2016

Article - Nayika: Search of philosophy behind its presentation - Swarada Dhekane

It is a proven fact that there is a direct effect of religion, philosophy, culture, social conditions of any country on the art forms that originate in that surrounding and Indian classical dance forms are not an exception. It is very important for every individual to have knowledge of such conditions or components while training in any art form. We need to know why we perform, instead of mechanically taking knowledge only on educational level.
The love between the nayak and nayika is one such aspect which is seen through the praises of gods and goddesses, their characters, short stories; it sometimes depicts Indian culture, philosophy and the relation between a man and woman. So what exactly does the philosophy signify?

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Friday 10 June 2016

Roses and Thorns - Navadisha 2016

The recently concluded historic South Asian dance conference in Birmingham NAVADISHA 2016, has elicited a wide range of opinions on social media. Some may have been fueled by my editorial message of June 2016 on the home page of this portal.
In the spirit of discourse, we are sharing the views of two writers.
Join the discussion.

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Wednesday 8 June 2016

Interview - Aruna Mohanty on Dhauli – Kalinga Mahotsav by Nita Vidyarthi

Acclaimed Odissi dancer, teacher and choreographer Guru Aruna Mohanty, Secretary and Creative Director of Orissa Dance Academy (ODA) keeps her guru’s torch ablaze by organizing the Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav as its Festival Director regularly at the foothills of the Vishwa Shanti Stupa.  A fantastic organizer, Mohanty gives the background and instillation of this annual event, which has a strong martial arts component  alongside the classical dance form. This clarifies to many why the Kalinga Martial Arts Festival, a brainchild of Dr. Ileana Citaristi,  merged with the Dhauli Festival started by her Guru Gangadhar Pradhan.

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Saturday 4 June 2016

Article - Kuchipudi: Resurgence or Funeral? - Amrita Lahiri

This may be a momentous period in the evolution of Kuchipudi. Rarely ever does this lesser-known, country-cousin of Bharatanatyam get as much attention as now. Some critics are despairing that it is in the ICU….predicting its demise…pointing fingers…questioning…looking back and asking what went wrong? Is it a time for resurgence? Or an impending funeral?
The spotlight recently fell on Kuchipudi when Sangeet Natak Akademi awarded two relatively unknown Kuchipudi dancers, sparking debates on transparency. Perhaps the more important question is what is the significance of this debate in the larger scheme of things? As far back as 500 BC, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "There is nothing permanent except change". Clearly some changes are good, while others are not. And what is good can be a matter of debate. Like the village with the same name, Kuchipudi dance is also under the pressure of change.

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Wednesday 1 June 2016

Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - June 2016

Anita says...June 2016

An entire month away from home, watching many varieties of dance, theatre and performance art forces me to spend more time and space than usual on a densely packed month of May.

There are movies every dancer must watch, books that are a must read and plays/shows that should not be missed. Broadway continues to be the testing ground for so many great and inventive choreographers. The unique demands of creating for “THE GREAT WHITE WAY” (a euphemism for the glittering lights of Broadway in NYC) has spawned some of the most exciting choreography in American modern dance history. Remember Jerome Robbins’ stunning dance designs for WEST SIDE STORY in 1957 which was later adapted to film in 1961? The opening scene on the basketball court that morphs seamlessly into a dance “battle” between the two rival teams, SHARKS vs JETS? Ballet, modern dance and sports images fused effortlessly like a champion dribbling the creative ball. On a recent visit to New York, I watched AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. The Gershwin lyrics, “I Got Rhythm", "S Wonderful” had me foot tapping in my seat. It was exhilaration from the moment the curtain rose. The male lead was performed by Garen Scribner, a former dancer at NDT1, the fabulous Netherlands contemporary dance company. The TRIPLE WHAMMY of dancing, singing and acting that Broadway exemplifies, always leaves me awestruck. Imagine 8 shows a week. Non stop. For months without end. I wonder how most Indian dancers would handle even a 6 performance week long “run”. Think of what Akram Khan has done for the past 15 years!  3 shows a week without stop. That, according to his manager Farookh Chaudhry!  Mind bogging!

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