Tuesday 28 February 2017

Think! - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Think what are dance aspirations of the marginalized, small town India? What facilities they have by way of halls, support systems and students. Small town India aka two tier aka smart cities are offering more culture than an over-fed metro. Look at the contrasts: in big cities audiences are sparse; one often bombards people with emails, telephone calls, WhatsApp then last minute reminders! After all this effort, max 100 turn up. Contrast this with smart cities aka small town India: Halls are full, audiences are eager because of many reasons: rarely outstation artistes come their way. Often on the same day, not much is taking place. More importantly, in small town India halls being very few, once booked others know there’s no venue left so they plan accordingly.  Add abundant audiences that come anyway hearing the name of known or unknown artiste or simply to be nice to the organizers, who must be known socially or professionally.

An email comes from one Radhika Shetty from Mangalore, asking: Sir, will you please attend our dance festival? I ask, not assuming I'm much known in moffusil India, “Who gave you my name or email id to invite?” She says, “I read you on narthaki and have most copies of attendance.” (In south India I've learnt to be polite so I can't ask, “Who are you?” Internet sometimes can give a clue nowadays but there are many similar sounding Radhika Shettys on the net!) So I ask instead for a list of who is dancing. 3 out of 6, I want to see (their progress in art, having seen them grow up) - Purvadhanashree, sincere student of Swapnasundari and daughter of Kamalini and Kuber Dutt of Delhi Doordarshan, and B.P. Sweekruth, Kathak talent from Bangalore. Add Dakshina, the dancing daughter of Rama Vaidyanathan, I have never seen before on stage.  Rama was Yamini Krishnamurthy's best student and now Saroja Vaidyanathan’s bahu. So I catch a train from Madras and reach Mangalore.

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Monday 27 February 2017

Mothers by Daughters & Others - Spontaneous, yet measured - Chitra Chandrasekhar Dasarathy

A favourite story that my mother likes to tell my children is when during a performance, I as a little girl fell asleep in the wings after dancing a Jatiswaram while she danced the Varnam! She came in and woke me up in time for the Tillana!
My mother Jaya Chandrasekhar, from the time I can remember, balanced her multiple roles and continues to amaze us with her energy for her varied interests. She went out to teach at The Vasanta College for Women at The Krishnamurthi Foundation, Banaras, in the mid-sixties in the last century.  She later also taught dance at the Banaras Hindu University. Among my circle of friends in a small town like Banaras, I soon realised that Amma was one of the few women who worked. She managed a home and family not to forget a steady stream of visitors who came to Kashi as pilgrims and she danced! She has always had a perspective which was large and inclusive, she probably inherited it from her father, whose interests ranged between astrology, Tamil classical literature and American politics (he worked for the USIS in New Delhi) and her mother who encouraged her to study and graduate in law, learn  to dance and sing! Amma   trained in Bharatanatyam and performed for long years. Her fluidity of movements in dance is something I cherish and describe to my students when I teach.

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Not just anyBODY - Poison-free nourishment - Nimmi Ittycheria John

Thirty years of telling people what to eat and how good it was for their
 bodies got me thinking…. Was I being too theoretical… Is a carrot 
really good for you? And what about the much talked about greens?

To my horror, after the time I have spent with farmers and their 
practices, I discovered that I was wrong all those years. Not because 
the vegetables have changed, but because our methods of cultivation 
spell slow death for all those who consume them. We often scoff at those
 who take their own lives with a swig of poison and the like. We have 
not given much thought to the fact that this is precisely what each us 
is indulging in everyday rather obliviously albeit in smaller doses.

Which led me to the question ‘are we just filling ourselves or are we 
nourishing ourselves?’ or worse, ‘are we poisoning ourselves?’
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Not just anyBODY - Health Recipes 10: Roasted Tomato and Capsicum Soup - Uma Pushpanathan

Serves: 4

Per serving: 418kJ

Preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes 


View the recipe in the site 

Twin yarns of empowered Eves - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

In Puranic annals, there are two epochal encounters that are clear triumphs of the feminist among our ancient story-tellers. The first is the encounter between the deva-guru’s son Kach and the demon-guru’s daughter Devayani: when Kach, at the behest of his father Brahaspati, comes to learn from Sukra -- the preceptor of demons – the mritasanjivani stotra (magical hymn of resurrecting from the dead), which the war weary gods are in dire need of. Besmirched by the beauteous Devayani, Kach manages to captivate her blossoming love, responding to his earnest pleadings of passion. This goes on till the resentful demons kill the aspiring Kach. Egged on by Devayani, Kach is revived from death-bed by Sukra through an application of the very same hymn and an instant learner, Kach attempts to escape to the gods, armed with his new knowledge. Heaven knows no fury like the woman scorned and Devayani pulls herself to her full height, roundly condemning Kach to remain forever a mere carrier of knowledge, but never able to use it in practice.
The second encounter was the one between Arjuna, the middle Pandava -- during his years of remaining in penance as a mendicant recluse – and Chitrangada, the strapping young princess of Manipur, brought up as a fighter-warrior son-in-disguise by her doting father. Suddenly, taken in by the surging emotions of a damsel, she is aroused by Arjuna at the first sight of his immaculate masculinity. And equally suddenly, she finds herself grossly inadequate, facing rejection by the indifferent male, citing a vow of celibacy. A diffident Chitrangada moves the high heavens to secure Cupid’s blessings for donning a transient seductive role. Arjuna succumbs, but after a year of consummate ardour, is inquisitive enough to seek the “real” Chitrangada. They agree to marry, but now on equal terms.

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Saturday 25 February 2017

Interview - Ananda Shankar Jayant on Natyarambha

“Our future will be technology driven... we will need to embrace it,” said PM Modi recently.
Inspired by the digital dream of our Prime Minister, dancer, choreographer, and scholar Ananda Shankar Jayant, conceived and produced Natyarambha that was launched on 22nd January 2017 in Hyderabad, by celebrated dancer Dr. Sonal Mansingh and BVR Mohan Reddy,  Executive Chairman, Cyient. 

Ananda Shankar Jayant talks about Natyarambha (www.natyarambha.com)

Congratulations on launching Natyarambha.  What is it all about?   
Natyarambha is Shankarananda Kalakshetra’s digital arts education initiative. It is a web based application to help in the practice of Bharatanatyam adavus  -  a detailed and interactive Bharatanatyam practice app that enables practitioners and students, practice the basics of Bharatanatyam, a digital connect  between the guru and the shishya, the teacher and the student, thereby bridging classroom training under a teacher and personal home rehearsals.

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Thursday 23 February 2017

Dhauli-Kalinga Festival epitomises peace and unity amidst diversity - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Watching audiences of over two thousand strong, comprising a large percentage of youngsters, enthusiastically applaud a performing art event makes for a heartening experience, particularly at a time when dance events in the auditoriums are facing dwindling audiences. What was initially started thirteen years ago in the Peace Pagoda atop Dhauli as the Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav featuring only martial art forms, has expanded in scope, bringing under its sponsoring umbrella classical, folk and martial art forms. What better venue than one watered by the river Daya, which centuries ago ran red with the blood of slain soldiers in the Kalinga war (the carnage converting conqueror Ashoka into Dharma Ashoka) to spread the message of peace? The festival now mounted at the foothill of Dhauli, is inaugurated with the symbolic act of six to seven chief guests on the dais with backs to audience, facing the lighted Peace Pagoda and the adjacent Shiva temple atop the hill, each raising the burning torch held in the hand paying obeisance, as an oath to peace. Today the Mahotsav (Feb 6-8) sponsored by Odisha Tourism is organised by Orissa Dance Academy in association with Art Vision, the original organisers of the purely martial arts version.

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Sunday 19 February 2017

Article - Perini Sivatandavam - Sudha Sridhar

To understand one of the ancient Aradhana nrityas, Perini Sivatandavam, one needs to first go to or know about Ramappa Temple, the text Nritta Ratnavali by Jayapa Senani and Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna, who revived the art in 20th century.

Perini Sivatandavam is said to have been in practice / performed for over 1000 years and the peak of it can be traced to the golden period of Kakatiya dynasty (11th century) who are also credited to have brought Telugu speaking people under one aegis while laying emphasis on dance and culture.

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Wednesday 15 February 2017

Tantu needs more than hype and hurry - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

It was called ‘Tantu,’ a “unique concept premiering a programme of Gurus Sharon Lowen, Madhavi Mudgal and the performer of the evening Madhur Gupta, framed by classics by the major architect of Odissi, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.”
Hype has become the tenor of this generation and young Madhur Gupta, true to this age, seems a man in a hurry. No matter what type of stringing together of items one designs, the ultimate test lies in the dancer’s competence and here the dancer performing at the IIC auditorium, Delhi, left something to be desired.  Right as he made an entry, his profiled body with head, neck, and back were not held in an erect line, the first requirement in a dancer. Apart from not holding the body straight, the shoulders and chest would not open out giving movement a spread. Whether it was the square geometrical motif of the chowk, or a diagonal walk with one leg weaving a circle in the air and being placed at the back of the other in a crossed foot swastika, Madhur’s movements, all executed close to the body gave his Odissi a very constricted feel taking away from the nature of the form, which along with the extreme grace of the tribhanga also has the strong posture of the chowk. Madhur has a flexible torso which is a plus point and he seems to revel in the tribhanga position. But he must first bring to his movements the full range with the contrasts of grace and tandav which are so central to this dance form – learn to walk correctly before trying to run so to speak. In fact one did wonder at a person starting training under Madhavi Mudgal for a short time, as claimed (which Madhavi when contacted denied) having such inadequate anga shuddha

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Monday 13 February 2017

Profile - Sangita Gosain - Tapati Chowdurie

Dr. Sangita Gosain who is an Associate Professor in Utkal University of Culture and is a renowned scholar and vocalist was born into music and has always been associated with music. She has another prestigious feather in her cap. Recently she has been given the added responsibility of chairing the very important post of the Chief Executive of ‘Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre’ in Bhubaneswar - its name was Odissi Research Centre. At one point, this rechristened institution had a plethora of famous gurus in its faculty. Name an institution which can boast of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Mahadev Rout, Sangeet Sudhakar Balakrishna Das, Pt. Bhubaneswar Misra, Deepak Kumar Bose, Kumkum Mohanty and Durgacharan Ranbir in its rolls; not to be forgotten names were that of Guru Pankaj Charan Das and Guru Debaprasad Das.

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26th Nishagandhi Dance Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

The 26th Nishagandhi Dance Festival at Thiruvananthapuram (20-27 January 2017) was flagged off by the Governor H.E Justice (Retired) P. Sathasivam, by lighting the lamps held by some ten dancers in a semi circle and more than 30 dancers providing backdrop and few standing on either side, choreographed by senior Guru Girija Chandran. The dignitaries including the Minister for Tourism, MLA, Mayor, Director of Tourism, dancer Bharati Sivaji,  followed the Governor when he went on lighting the lamps. Music was played to which the dancers demonstrated the hastas. Colourful and spectacular, it was an impressive ceremony. The Nishagandhi Puraskar for 2017 was given to Mohiniattam dancer Bharati Shivaji from Delhi. From this year it was decided to have a separate exclusive dance festival and one more category of Contemporary dance was also introduced. The Governor suggested that Kerala Tourism Development Corporation could arrange a separate Music Festival. 

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Friday 10 February 2017

Unique tribute to a maverick musical genius - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Murali Samarpanam held at the India International Centre auditorium as an evening of tribute to the "inimitable Gandharva Vaagyekara" Dr. M.Balamurali Krishna, designed and organised by Usha R.K, proved to be a riveting event, featuring six Bharatanatyam dancers from Delhi. Visualising the entire event round Balamurali's Thillana compositions was well thought out - for the maestro's compositions in this genre of Carnatic music, apart from exploring his limitless creative energies in manifold areas of raga and tala intricacies also provided space for his poetic sensibility in the dedicatory passages-all of which have made them an excellent base for Bharatanatyam dancers.
Holding the evening together with her own very informative introductions (very much needed for a predominantly north Indian audience) was R.K. Usha for whom this was obviously an emotional journey down memory lane - her several interactions with Dr. M. Balamurali having begun, well over 36 years ago when the master bowled over the barely twenty year old, who on her maiden endeavour at organising a very significant event had timidly approached the already established musician inviting him to sing for the occasion and without the slightest hesitation at a green horn being in charge of this event, the maestro had agreed on the spot. A genius who was adept at playing the violin, the viola, the mridangam and of course singing, and a poet with a great feel for the Telugu language, greatness sat lightly on his shoulders. The arithmetical combinations of rhythm in his compositions could perplex even well known mridangam accompanists with a composition set in a cycle of 17 ½ beats! Natural as they come, for him music was a way of life, flowing effortlessly.

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Wednesday 8 February 2017

Remembering Rohini Bhate - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

I clearly remember Rohini Bhate and I sitting together at the historic All India Dance Seminar  convened by Sangeet Natak Akademi from 31st March till 7th April 1958, at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. I was an up and coming dance scholar and was deeply involved in dance, having learnt a little Kathak at Deodhar’s classes of music and dance near Opera House, Mumbai. Later on, I studied Bharatanatyam under Guru Kalyanasundaram Pillai at Raja Rajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir at Matunga. 
Rohini and I used to meet in Mumbai when she was staying near Wilson School at Girgam.  She used to visit Mumbai regularly from Pune.  My painter friend Prabha Vithal had given me autobiography Mazi Nrita Sadhana written by Rohini in Marathi. It was a fascinating account of her discovery of and deep interest in dance. She was trained in classical Hindustani vocal music and used to sing for All India Radio, which I remember having listened to.  I was much impressed by her multiple talents. As a Kathak dancer her training had led her to study the theory also.  She had translated Abhinaya Darpana and Isadora Duncan’s biography. Her deep interest in aesthetics and literature were praiseworthy. 

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Article - Munaam Attakkari - Shruthi KP

Sitting in the brightest part of the room, all were applauding her; the nattuvan would not stop praising her performance. She had done complete justice to his choreography and his teachings. On stage, though he is singing and impressing the audience with his beat and dancers…he is a cautious dog, fully aware of how his troupe is performing. To him, she can never make mistakes and we, the other attakkari and I, can never succeed in achieving appreciation. She is beautiful, as they say smooth wheat skin, beetled mouth, voluptuous is her voice, mind and body. Sensuality oozing out, at appropriate times, like the grace in her dance and a purpose to impress as strong as the beat of her feet.
Sitting in the darkest corner of the room, I folded her clothes smelling the chandanam that had submerged with sweat on to her white veil. I know anyone could have done what she did if given the chance but who gets that chance these days?

“Meenakshiye! Here, you go, one pound rice and few annas,” the nattuvanar dropped it into my hands. My remuneration this time is bigger than before as the landlord for whom we danced is extremely happy with her performance of Mukkutti.

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Friday 3 February 2017

The non-traditional Traditionalist - Padmini Ravi

Summer of 65. My father had just died. I was 9 years old, scared and sad. I joined Sarasalaya mainly to overcome my sadness. Thus started my journey with Teacher, K.J Sarasa.
 She made me perform Kedaram Tillana in a production just 6 months after I had joined. I did my Arangetram in just 2 years. I wonder how!!! More than the tangible element called Dance, what is still etched in my memory is the intangibles. I grew up as an essential part of her family. I was too young to understand the importance and implications of her style of teaching and life. While I was aware that all the leading film stars were her students and with some of whom I had also performed, I never realized that my mind was being influenced, till much later. 

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Wednesday 1 February 2017

Roving Eye - A section of impressions, images and inspirations - Curated by Anita Ratnam - February 2017

Anita says...February 2017

There is only one word that springs to my mind as I write this.
FAUDA… it means CHAOS in Arabic

On the sand of Chennai’s Marina Beach where students thumped chests and demanded the reinstatement of the traditional Tamizh bull racing sport of JALLIKATTU - FAUDA

On the streets of global capitals awash with women in pink hats protesting President Trump’s misogynist policies - FAUDA

In airports across the USA enraged immigrants demonstrating against the travel ban from 7 Muslim nations - FAUDA

The tragic farce of dancer Lakshmi Viswanathan first listed and then suddenly UNLISTED as a PADMA AWARD recipient on January 25th - on the eve of India’s 69th Republic Day - FAUDA on social media

And the cream of the crop
The Culture Department- Government of India celebrating the 250th birth anniversary of Carnatic music saint Tyagaraja as a FOLK and TRIBAL FESTIVAL in Maharashtra. With no link or connection to the place or spirit of the genius composer - WTF- FAUDA.

And you want me to write about DANCE.
So you think there was no FAUDA on many stages across India???

Read on…