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. 

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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.” 

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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

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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. 

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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.  

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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