Saturday 30 July 2016

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness column - Strength training for dancers - Jyotsna John

The human body thrives on movement. Well-planned, purposeful movement is the foundation to a healthy body and restrictions in movement can hinder our ability to fully experience life.
Dance is one of the more complex forms of movement. It is performed as a sequence but consists mostly of random movement. Random, in that it does not have a well-defined scientific structure to it and any move performed gracefully and to a beat can constitute dance.

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Tuesday 26 July 2016

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness column - Health Recipes 4: Quinoa stir fry wrap - Uma Pushpanathan

Serves: 2
Per Serving: 500kj
Cooking and Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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Mother and daughter or daughter and mother? - Aniruddha Knight

Mother, daughter, guru, disciple, friend, caretaker - a vast complex web that defined the enigma of a relationship between Balasaraswati and Lakshmi. In Balamma’s youth, her mother Jayammal played the role of manager, accompanist, mother, and guru. Through a very rocky relationship, they were the two pillars that defined what we call “dance music” (the actual method of singing for dance) today. In Balamma’s latter part of her career, particularly from the early 1960s, Lakshmi played the essential role of maintaining and pushing Balamma’s career. From ensuring the financial stability of the family to redesigning of her costume, Lakshmi was pivotal in making sure Balamma’s career moved forward in a world that was unfamiliar and unappealing to Balamma. Until Balamma’s last breath, Lakshmi was her caretaker. Balamma’s battles with cancer, diabetes, rheumatic fever and heart disease were battles that were equally fought by my mother as her own. As Balamma aged, the line between who was mother and who was daughter had blurred even further. Even 15 years after Balamma’s passing, my mother got so used to cooking and eating without salt (Balamma’s heart disease) that she would constantly forget to add salt in our meals at home!

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Thursday 21 July 2016

Journeying into woman dancer’s inner world - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

An uncharacteristic evening in more ways than one sponsored by Aim for Seva, as part of its fund raising efforts, ‘Antar Yatra’, conceived by Odissi artist Sharmila Biswas, was premiered in Chennai at the Music Academy auditorium on July 16. Woven round three dance forms of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi from contiguous regions of the Indian Coast of the Coromandel, Antar Yatra is in the nature of a journey delving into the inner recesses of the woman dancer’s landscape of mind and thoughts. 

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Wednesday 20 July 2016

Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari - Aishwarya Nityananda’s Bharatanatyam recital was visual poetry

Disciple of Guru Radha Sridar, Aishwarya Nityananda from Bangalore performed at the Habitat Centre in New Delhi. She choreographed a special thematic program ‘Leela Mohana Krishna’ centring round Krishna’s multiple personalities – as a god child, prankster, a model lover, hero and Supreme Being. Krishna’s various leelas were portrayed through compositions soaked in love and devotion.

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Tuesday 19 July 2016

Bharatanatyam duo at California’s Chinmaya Mission - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

It was for me intriguingly unlike the usual run of programmes watching a recital titled ‘After Arangetram’ in California’s Irvine district - for it was after more than a decade that I was witnessing Bharatanatyam in the States, by dancers from Arpana, an established school in Irvine, run by Ramya Harishankar. It was that unmistakable Indo-American ambiance at the Los Angeles Chinmaya Centre auditorium, notwithstanding saree-clad volunteers ushering in ticket holders (unlike the Indian situation where most programmes are for an invited audience. 

Of the two disciples of Ramya Harishankar featured in the programme, Kanthi Atreya and Visalini Sundaram, Visalini had had her arangetram a couple of years ago, while Kanthi the partner, studying medicine, was described as regarding Bharatanatyam as an ‘oxymoron’ giving her freedom of expression within a prescribed grammar. Suffice it to say that much like such events elsewhere, the performance clearly showed an enthusiastic duo with a joy in rendering the dance. While Visalini whose dance has the ground work, is sure to evolve with time and experience, Kanthi Atreya’s dance which has a certain flair, showed the need for more internalized emotion and less of the exuberant torso and neck deflections, tending to smudge the Bharatanatyam body line.  

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Sunday 17 July 2016

Tribute - Kavalam: Guru non-pareil - Methil Devika

It was yet another sleepy day at a national seminar on Mohiniyattam two decades ago. I remember the newspapers, for that extra punch, even carried a picture of me dozing while a scholar presented his paper.
During one such mid-day snooze at the 10-day seminar, something caught my attention. It was not the usual history or sampradayas that we had been mercilessly subjected to in the preceding days. Neither did the speaker throw up borrowed words of some author or scholar. On the contrary, what I heard was something so pragmatic, rustic, yet greatly appealing. I woke up to Kavalam Narayana Panikkar and to Mohiniyattam.

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Friday 15 July 2016

Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari - Devadasi, Apsara and Chali Nritya seminar at Guwahati

Prateesha Suresh, an exponent of Sattriya dance, under the aegis of her Pratishruti Foundation arranged a one day seminar and lecture demonstration / performance at Rabindra Bhawan, Guwahati on 4th July 2016. The seminar on ‘Tradition of Classical Dance and Music in Assam’ focused on Devadasi Nritya, Apsara Nritya, Chali Nritya and Classicism in Sattra singing.

It is a welcome initiative offering insights into these dance and music traditions. In spite of the fact that Sattriya dances received recognition in the year 2000 as the 8th classical dance form, a lot still needs to be brought to the attention of scholars, performers, gurus, organizers and both connoisseurs and lay public alike.

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Wednesday 13 July 2016

Interview - Sharmila Biswas: Antar Yatra has helped me to evolve - Kathakali Jana

Choreographer Sharmila Biswas’s latest work, Antar Yatra, is the tentative journey of a thinking artiste and her process of creating her magical world.
Three classical dance forms, songs sung in six languages, multiple voices of the narrator and a tour of seven cities, Antar Yatra is a travel through time, space and eternity. 

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Tuesday 12 July 2016

Interview - Rajashri Praharaj: Story of an upcoming Odissi dancer - Tapati Chowdurie

Rajashri Praharaj is the recipient of Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar this year. She is an upcoming Odissi dancer of Guru Kelucharan style of Odissi. Trained extensively by Guru Ratikant Mohapatra at Srjan, this young dancer was taken by surprise, on hearing the news of her being selected for the Bismillah Khan award.
Recently she was in Kolkata, and regaled the audience with Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra's famous choreographic work 'Sita Haran' with inputs from Guru Ratikant Mohapatra. She presented a jaw-dropping performance and fitted easily into the many roles in the piece involving high drama, which she performed solo. She was at her best. This lead dancer of Srjan's team, was again in Kolkata soon after her performance at Rabindranath Tagore centre of ICCR, to help Ratikant Mohapatra to conduct an intensive Odissi workshop with senior dancers. I took this opportunity to get her to answer a few questions at the venue of the workshop. I was curious to know what inspired and interested her to take to dancing. 

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Wednesday 6 July 2016

Of Nattuvanars, Chinna Melam and the past to the present - Seen and Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan

One of the finest developments of 21st century in Bharatanatyam is the entry of the daughters, sons, and granddaughters of hereditary dancers and Nattuvanars into the field as performers and teachers. I would call this the latest Renaissance. It began in the late 20th century in small instances when the last gurus passed away, leaving sons and daughters who knew the art in practice, but did not quite have the courage to make dance a vocation gradually tested the waters. They eventually made the bold decision to treat their artistic inheritance seriously. With almost all the teachers of dance belonging to the non hereditary community steadily attracting more and more students, and thus earning sizable wealth, prestige and power, the young inheritors from families of gurus woke up to try their hand at teaching and also performing. Today they are making their mark!

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Article - Understanding Sattvika abhinaya - Dr. Gauri Ponkshe

The ancient Indian idea of 'drama' varied from the present-day perception of the same. As per the ancient concept, drama did not consist of speech alone but also included mime, song and body movements including dance. And 'nāṭya', as it was termed, was, meant to evoke rasa - the divine aesthetic pleasure in the spectator. Rasa, being, the relish of human emotions happens only if the artiste's performance effectively engrosses the spectator's mind away from mundane things to a world of aesthetic beauty and bliss. According to Bharata in his Nāṭyasāstra, the 'birth of rasa' is said to be the ultimate aim of the nāṭya. This is to be achieved by the artiste by conveying intended emotions with the tool of abhinaya and other important constituents of drama. The Sanskrit word 'abhinaya' is made up of the prefix abhi 'towards' and the root ni 'to carry'. It can be understood as "disclosing the various aspects of the theme to the spectator by means of words, gestures, costumes etc." It is a suggestive imitation of the various psychological states of characters in the theme. 

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Friday 1 July 2016

Anita says...July 2016

"I can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee
I am the greatest. The boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skillfullest."
- American boxing and cultural icon Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

"Time is the curtain, a walled city with doors that let you in and not out."
- Opening lines of THE RAMAYANA, written and directed by Gopal Sharman, writer, poet, musician, culture catalyst and co-founder of AKSHARA THEATRE, New Delhi (1935 - 2016).
As we mourn two very different individuals, we also mark the power of creativity and conviction. Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali became more than a sporting legend. He was the conscience keeper of the USA, sparring with his government and delivering the knockout punch when he refused to enroll in the army to fight the Vietnam war.
Gopal Sharman was not a sporting icon or a politician. He was the quintessential free spirit - creating, dreaming and manifesting his passion in the arts through the charming Akshara Theatre in the nation's capital. A generous host, many remember his warmth and bonhomie during the numerous plays that were staged or nurtured at Akshara.

Three more giant trees fell late last month. Aruna Sundarlal, the music patron and iconic Bengaluru cultural figure, breathed her last. Nearby, in Kerala, the giant savant Kavalam Narayana Panikker bid farewell in a peaceful final transition in his home. Another renowned artiste, noted Hindustani classical musician Veena Sahasrabuddhe, made the final transition. Odisha lost Odissi guru Kanduri Charan Behera. They are going. Fast. Quickly. Quietly. Our cultural landscape is looking sparse. Retilling the soil is becoming more and more urgent. 

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Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - July 2016