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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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Wednesday 7 September 2016

Article - The ethics of making dancers pay to perform - Sumangala V Varun

Today, art and culture are gaining popularity with the masses. Every nook and cranny has a dance or music school. Some dance students give up after few years (due to various reasons), but some eager and dedicated ones continue their lessons. After rigorous training comes the question of getting on the stage.
One of the common trends these days is to make the dancers pay to perform. In the guise of providing and creating opportunities for young and upcoming dancers, organizations and individuals are collecting payment. Some might say that the organization of a program is an expensive affair – there is the hall, the sound and lighting, a certificate or memento, seating etc. to be paid for. But how is it that some organizations with limited means are able to promote upcoming artists without collecting money from them?

Where does a budding dancer go? In order to build a profile and to work on some performance experience, most are ending up having to pay for these opportunities. No one expects to amass a fortune as a performing artist. Most don’t even expect any sort of payment as a dancer. However, to make them pay money to perform is unfair.

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Tuesday 6 September 2016

Creatrix of universe - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr. Utpal K Banerjee

In Samvet, a scintillating Kathak solo, the young dancer Gauri Diwakar visualised confluence of the five elements to form the whole, coalescing in complete harmony. According to her, "This balanced coming together awakens our senses and brings to us a sense of perfect equilibrium, instilling in our heart, mind, body and soul the feeling of everlasting bliss." 

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Monday 5 September 2016

On being one’s own dancer - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

The year was 1964. Whenever one entered the office of the then Director of the Ashok Hotel Cultural Wing, late A.J. Jaspal, what arrested the visitor were three oversized photographs, dwarfing everything else in the area, of Yamini Krishnamurty, Sonal Mansingh and Uma Sharma  – the three “prima donnas of Indian classical dance” as Jaspal described them. I was witness to Uma Sharma, at the time evolving as a sophisticated Kathak dancer for the proscenium, her artistry in abhinaya giving her an edge over other Kathak performers. I still recollect her performing to Surdas verses, describing the first meeting of young Krishna and Radha in Brindavan –“Bhoojat Sham, ‘Kaun tu Gori?’”  (“Who are you fair one?” asked Krishna). Thundering applause greeted the dancer’s presentation of the item.

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Sunday 4 September 2016

Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari - Nrityagram: Homage to Protima Gauri on her death anniversary

Since last four years Nrityagram artists pay homage to Protima Gauri (Bedi) on her death anniversary on 18th August. In order to share with public the various activities and training programs at Nrityagram near Hessaraghatta, some 30 km away from Bangalore, Nrityagram dancers present performances in Bangalore city. Last year was the 25th year of establishment of Nrityagram.
Over the years Nrityagram, with Surupa Sen as the choreographer, has been choreographing several dance works, with single minded devotion and dedication. Surupa Sen, Bijayini Satpathy and Pavithra Reddy have won acclaim world over for their performances as classical Odissi dancers. By fortuitous circumstances, I was spending a week at Kula, the special residency block Nrityagram has built, where residencies are held through the year. I was privileged to attend rehearsals for the performances scheduled for 18th August.  They were conducted at Odissi Gurukul and Amphitheatre to live music, supervised by Surupa Sen.

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Thursday 1 September 2016

Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - September 2016

Anita says...September 2016

"When the whole world says "MOVE"
You plant your feet firmly like a tree
And say

Lines from the film CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

These thoughts come to you from a month of watching, absorbing and reflecting on a variety of performances, venues, cities and people I have met and interacted with.

I started this editorial on the flight to Colombo, continued it in Singapore and completed it in Kuala Lumpur. In all three cities/countries, I was starkly reminded of the fascinating history and achievements of the Tamil communities. Their long struggle under colonial rule through generations of oppression and marginalisation forced them to find cultural moorings for their own psyche. The answer for many lay in music and dance. It was not just in the building of temples and shrines, but in their steadfast loyalty to the Tamizh tongue via the cultural conduit of Bharatanatyam, ritual hymns and of course, movies that buoyed the millions of diaspora immigrants through their dark and brutal early years. Today, dance and music lives on in the homes and lives of the Tamil people around the world, the Sri Lankan Tamils being among the most faithful and active.

However, it was not Bharatanatyam that I watched in the month of August. In fact, there was not a single performance of BN that I attended, although festivals and premieres were occurring almost every single day somewhere on the planet and in my home town of Madras/Chennai.

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