Thursday 30 March 2017

Kala Prachara - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Dance needs discussing, even debate in today's clime of closed minds and doors. It needs dialogue, discourse and deliberations. Each city I go to (in a month, 3 on an average and this past month traversed Trivandrum, Pune, Delhi), makes me realize how badly dance needs catalysts so it cuts across binaries and boundaries.

Classical dancers are stuck in their mould. Modern dancers are unstuck because they don't have a mould! In between lies the thinking dance! That can think but not dance. Add the confusion in fusion and you have Bollywood as the only acceptable pan-Indian dance making a mark globally. No matter what classical or modern dance lobbies say most don't practice what they preach. I find myself uniquely placed between two worlds: old India and new; traditional and modern. Wah! What a palate. So I go like a wandering minstrel city to city doing kala prachar. Dancers do that too but they often are limited by their own form, bani, guru, gharana, labels, definitions.  

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Tuesday 28 March 2017

Article - Indian Dance in America began in 1880 - Rajika Puri

When Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham, (directors of From the Horse’s Mouth, a NY-based but pan-US dance institution) asked me to curate a special edition of their show to be entitled “Indian Dance in America”, I was delighted at this recognition of our US Indian dance community. Since the heart of the show consists of stories told by elder members of a particular dance community, I immediately began to think of those who first established Indian dance in this country – and realised that the story of ‘Indian dance in America’ actually begins in America; the early pioneers were all Americans! 

As early as 1906, Ruth St Denis had choreographed and performed a dance called ‘Radha’. This was even before she met Ted Shawn and they pioneered American dance itself, established the Denishawn School and company (1915) and, later, toured India with over a hundred performances (1926). I have always thought, thus, that 1906 was the beginning of ‘Indian Dance in America’, only after which came legendary dancers like Ragini Devi (mother of Indrani Rahman, born Esther Luella Sherman) and La Meri (Russell Meriwether Hughes) who invited Ram Gopal to New York to dance in her company (1930) and who, to complete the circle, started the School of Natya with Ruth St Denis in 1940!

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Sunday 26 March 2017

The Courtesan Extraordinaire - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

The early Buddhist literature, beginning with the ancient Jatakas, is replete with a surprising number of parables and legends. One such treasure trove is  Mahavastu Avadhan which, among others, narrates the didactic tale of the  court dancer Shyama and her sudden passion for the handsome stranger Vajrasen – caught on a false charge of theft – for whom she does not hesitate to sacrifice her young lover Uttiyo at the gallows. On the felony being revealed, she is summarily discarded by her ‘new’ lover Vajrasen. The two main protagonists, Shyama and Vajrasen, are surrounded by the king’s minions – headed by a crafty Kotwal -- entirely prompted by the power of lucre and the royal dancer’s companions acting as a ‘voice of conscience,’ a well-known ploy inherited by the Bengali folk theatre Jatra essayed by Vivek, literally meaning ‘conscience’. 

Shyama, Rabindranath Tagore’s delectable dance drama – presented recently in Kolkata by Jahnavi and Sutradhar – was based on the above story line. The 1938 play (preceded by an 1899 long poem by Tagore on the same theme) was set first in a public avenue, moving to Shyama’s private chambers, to the solitary prison cell, to the luxury yacht carrying the lover duo, to the forests on the river bank, and finally to the point of no return. The plot had amour propreplayed out between the lovers: now infatuated, now querulous and then desperately estranged. The point of view was entirely Shyama’s: besotted with passion and eager to elope, the admission of her felony, and her eventual desertion. The mood was of the urgency of the lovers’ union, only to fall apart. The tone was, for both lovers, psychologically resonated. The primary beauty of Shyama was the heaving rise and fall of its conflicts and their Spencerian tempo, almost like Western music’s overture, leading to the waxing and waning of the passage of ardour between the two principal contenders.

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Nupur: 23rd Classical Dance Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

The 23rd edition of Nupur, the three-day classical dance festival was flagged off at Shree Mahalsa Sausthan, Mardol-Goa, by Sushant Khedekar, Vice Chairman of Kala Academy, Goa, with other dignitaries on the evening of 18th March 2017.

With the backdrop of the temple with deepa stambh and deepamala, the dance found a devotional ambience. At the very outset, I would like to congratulate the organizers for giving opportunity to young Goan dancers under the guidance of Shama Bhate of Pune in a group choreography of Kathak for four dancers under the scheme of workshop organized by the Directorate of Art and Culture. They included Varada Bedekar, Prerna Palekar, Arpita Shirodkar, Tejaswini Loundo. They did Shama Bhate proud with their neat and unhurried graceful Kathak which consisted of traditional numbers like thaat, aamad, paran, parmelu, bol baant ki tihai and footwork. All of them performed with clarity and confidence. Kajari by Dr. Prabha Atre for abhinaya dwelt upon abhisarika nayika. Music by vocalist Vikrant Naik, Amar Mopkar, and Swapnil Mandrekar (tabla), Prasad Gawas (harmonium), Sonik Velingkar (flute) and recitation by Guru Shama Bhate complimented the dance. 

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Mothers by Daughters & Others - To Mother, with love - Srinidhi Chidambaram

Behind every successful Bharatanatyam dancer, is her mother. This is something I can swear by. Of course, fathers, husbands and in-laws do play a hugely supportive role, but the role of the mother of a dancer is something else entirely! She performs the combined roles of a guru, companion, confidante, aesthetic guide, stage designer, make-up artiste, program consultant, costumer, nutritionist, fitness coach, and much more…

In my own case, I have been lucky to have had two such strong and nurturing women, my maternal grandmother and my mother, by my side throughout my dance career. My life as a dancer began at the age of three, when I started my training with Kamala. For the next ten years, it was really my grandmother who steered me through classes, school, homework, performances and travel. Until this day, most old timers from the Chennai Bharatanatyam scenario, remember her with affection. Following that, my mother has been the one nurturing and supporting me, for the last 45 plus years of my career as a Bharatanatyam performer.

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Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Health Recipes 11: Sake Steamed Chicken - Uma Pushpanathan

Serves: 2 
Per serving: 800 kJ
Preparation and Cooking Time: 40 minutes

View the recipe in the site

Friday 24 March 2017

Interview - Nilesh Singha: Dance is expression of the soul - Vijay Shankar

Acclaimed as one of the best male classical dancers of Mumbai, having won several accolades, Nilesh Singha is gaining recognition as a painstaking teacher and choreographer and his institute, Shivoham Institute of Performing Arts has successfully completed eleven glorious years, having produced students who have become professional dancers as well. Nilesh narrates his experience as a performer and teacher that spans more than two decades.

How did you get fascinated with dance?
Dancing has come naturally to me. When I was a kid I started dancing at the start of music on the radio or television. My parents observed my passion for dance and decided to put me into a dance class. Those days we used to live in Dombivali in Thane district. The class that I was enrolled in was for Kuchipudi and the teacher was the established exponent Guru Vijaya Prasad. After completing the course, I started participating in competitions and become a regular first ranker for more than ten years at the competition organized by Swar Sadhana Samiti at the national level.

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Wednesday 22 March 2017

The Spring Mood - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Mother Earth does seem to extend her best foot forward at the advent of spring every year. In land after land, post-winter, spring invites an unmatched floral kaleidoscope from nature. In the harsh northern clime, while Holland sees its expansive gardens swathed in breathtaking colours of flowers, Birmingham in England bursts all over into a colourful extravaganza with many-hued tulips. It is not without some pride (if not actual devotion) that Robert Browning sang: The year's at the spring, And day's at the morn, Morning's at seven, The hillside's dew-pearled, The lark's on the wing, The snail's on the thorn, God's in his heaven, All's right with the world!

In the far away land of the Rising Sun, the country waits with bated breath for its first warm winds at the winter's thaw. And when that happens, all the cherry trees everywhere suddenly sprout blossoms: unbelievably all together and entire communities - from schools and colleges, offices and factories - come out in the wide open to observe holiday and witness the wonderful spectacle. It is Ohanami festival, the aesthetic nation's only unchartered holiday on the calendar. If in Myanmar, it is the water sprinkling festivity, in India, it is sharing gulal and crimson-coloured water, and shouting Holi hai in unison.

Eons ago, Kalidasa composed his unique ode to nature, Ritu Samharam, creating metaphor after exquisite metaphor for seasons. If it was Ashadasya prathama divase megham ashlishta sanum... for the rains, it was a beautiful damsel striking with her left heel the Ashoka tree to let it bloom; and it was for a bashful bride to pluck at the mango grove, allowing it to spread fragrant offshoots. Kalidasa was emphatic: then and only then it would be spring, not otherwise.

A millennium had to elapse before a worthy successor would arrive to pen his tender thoughts on India's all six seasons. In an outpouring of 293 songs on nature as many as 96 were on spring, written by Tagore. Unfailingly in Vasanta Utsav every spring, his dream scion Santiniketan erupts into a flurry of dancers' and singers' processions of colourfully attired youth and the old - meandering through roads and meadows - carrying red abir and singing, Come out, you domestic denizens, it's spring on waters and earth, in the wood's cool corridors...

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Margam is ever new - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

One of the highlights of a superbly mounted, third consecutive annual two-day Sindhu Festival in Pune by 'Sankhya' headed by Bharatanatyam artist Vaibhav Arekar, with its thematic accent this year on the Margam, was the dancer's own solo presentation - premiering a centerpiece comprising Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar's Varnam strung in raga Vasantha and tala misra jhampa. “Dani korikenu niraverchutakide tagina samayamu, raa tamarasaksha,” pleads the sakhi with Lord Vishnu conveying to him her friend's message, entreating that he hurry to her to assuage her pangs of love, for the time is ripe for their union. “Dayadoochi dani,” she begs for his compassion to answer her friend's call forthwith. Supported by an excellent team of musicians led by nattuvangam by Kaliswaran Pillai (son of Kadirvel Pillai), melodious vocalist in G. Srikanth, taut mridangam accompaniment by Satish Krishnamurthy and impactful interventions on the violin by Narayana Parthasarathy, Vaibhav treated the audience to the grandeur of Bharatanatyam nritta and interpretative dance at its best. The theme is as old as the varnam though its translation in Vaibhav's myriad danced images was anything but hackneyed. 

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Saturday 18 March 2017

Rani Jayalakshmi Nachiyar, The dancer Pandanallur Jayalakshmi (1930-2017) - Seen and Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan

With the passing away of this renowned dancer this month, the world of Bharatanatyam has lost a legendary artist who blazed an unforgettable trail in her youth.
The name of Pandanallur, a temple town near Kumbakonam is synonymous with the most renowned Guru Meenakshisundaram Pillai. Equally famous in her time and remembered as the darling of Pandanallur is the dancer JAYALAKSHMI who became a legend in the short time that she danced. A star at a young age when most dancers were in fact young girls, she gained a reputation unmatched in the history of Bharatanatyam. In her own words: "It all happened so fast that even I never imagined that I would be so famous and so popular." It was a dream run for the young girl, her talent shining with each performance, so much so that long after she stopped performing she was talked about as one who was "born to dance" and was blessed to bring fame and name to both her guru and her homestead....the village of Pandanallur. Today the temple of Pasupatheeswara stands tall. When she was an eight year old, Jayalakshmi had her arangetram on an auspicious day in this temple. The house of Guru Meenakshisundaram Pillai is still there in its modified form. So is the house of Jayalakshmi, with the walls adorned with portraits of her and the Rajah of Ramnad, her husband. A bygone era lingers only in memories. A visit to the temple and its beautiful precincts presided by Shiva the Lord of the dance makes us believers sensitive to a lost history.

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Friday 17 March 2017

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) lunches: Desi style - Sathya Nagaraj

Hope you have enjoyed the “Go Green Smoothie” and have incorporated it as your main breakfast food. I have become so used to it, that I can’t think of any other breakfast now for the past 8 months. Leaving our idli, dosa, pongal, upma is a big step, but remember this is a lifestyle change and not a diet. As you make the Green Smoothie a habit, you will realize it is an energetic start for the day! If you are comfortable with your change in your breakfast, you are ready for the changes for your lunch.
A bowl of cooked vegetables and a bowl of lean meat for non-vegetarians, or a bowl of cooked vegetables and a bowl of salads for vegetarians is an ideal lunch. I did it for a week or two, but missed my sambar rice, curd rice etc, and this is when I found a recipe on cauliflower rice. It was a treasure, I tried different variations and it suited the lunch menu perfectly.

We are so used to rice, sambar, rasam, curd, veggies, meat etc for regular meals… So, I incorporated that in a slightly different way. My meal will be Cauliflower Vegetable Biriyani or Cauliflower Vegetable Pulao or Cauliflower Bagala Bhath in place of our rice, this helped me most in sticking to my lifestyle change. So, you have a rice, vegs and salad…. It is so filling that you will not be hungry till 6-7pm.

View the recipes for Cauliflower Vegetable Biriyani & Thai Veg Tofu Curry in the site

Thursday 16 March 2017

Article - 20 rare facts about King Serfoji II in the field of dance and music - Prince Pratap Sinha Raje Bhosle

King Serfoji II devoted his life, interest and wealth for the cultural uplift in spheres of literature, medicine, music, dance, drama and other fine arts which paved the way for an upheaval in art, literary and cultural fields.
Swati Thirunal, Maharaja of Travancore, kept contact with King Serfoji II ((Maharaja of Thanjavur from 1798 to 1832) even before he came to the throne and exchanged scholars, musicians and even their personal compositions. Saint Tyagaraja, Syama Sastrigal, Muthuswami Dikshitar - the musical trinity - were the contemporaries of Rajah Serfoji II. Eminent dance masters like Gangaimuthu, Salapathy, Subbarayan, Mahadana Annachi, Tanjore Quartet and Sundari were patronised by Serfoji. 

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Tuesday 14 March 2017

Kathak Mahotsav’s re-look at old traditions and compositions - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

In a three day event based on traditional teacher to disciple lines, with their stylistic identities and signature compositions, this year’s Kathak Kendra Mahotsav featured solo recitals, duets and group presentations, in that order each day. With her winsome stage presence, Nandita Puri, a prime disciple of Roshan Kumari, presented the uncompromisingly erect-bodied Kathak, with straight hand stretches, unrelieved by   needless filigree-like minimal gestures of fingers or torso, in the severe style of her guru. Starting somewhat timidly with the “Shantakaram Bhujagashayanam” chant, the occasional missed chakkars and footwork in nritta, unable to articulate all the mnemonic syllables impeccably, revealed a lack of ‘riyaz’. But after that she warmed up somewhat to compositions like the Chakradhar Paran, the 9 syllabic Chhand, the idiosyncratic grouping of syllables in “Makadi ki jaal” (spider’s web) like travelling on a bumpy road, and the Kaliyamardan Kavit “Jamuna ki tat par.” “Aavat mori galiyan me Giridhari”, the abhinaya projection even with its simple word/gesture translation would have had more impact if the loud singer Vaibhav Mankar had been more in sur. The “moramukut manohar sohe” concluding in chakkars with two layers of the kurta unfurling like an inverted open parasol, made a fine visual picture.

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Roses and Thorns - Kuchipudi - Formation of a global association is the way forward - Sudha Sridhar

It is indeed sad to come across the news item that the State Government of Andhra Pradesh on Women’s Day 2017 has nominated a novice as Youth Ambassador for ‘Classical Kuchipudi art form with fusion’ without any sort of consensus, in a right manner to a deserving person befitting the onerous responsibility of being a role model of the classical art form to the world at large with State grants and orders.
This has understandably irked a large section of the Kuchipudi fraternity stirring quite a few to take refuge to social media protesting with emotions running high, painting the pictures of Kuchipudi seer Siddhendra Yogi, doyens Vempati Chinna Satyam and Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma blindfolded. Further some artists, organisers, art lovers are imploring the social media users to post their protest by way of status message seeking for the revocation of the orders and so on. We are more emotional than most countries and the art world thrives on emotions so to say and the reactions were on expected lines.

However, this is not a black day for Kuchipudi art form as much as it is a black day for the present day stake holders of Kuchipudi, who have failed in taking adequate timely action together when noticing proceedings going awry. Instead all that was shown was indifference looking away from the main problem and thus the stakeholders should wear black or more preferably close their eyes and repent looking deep into their hearts to answer the seer, the legends if and when we have to meet them in heaven.

This is not the first time that Kuchipudi classical art form has been misrepresented and misunderstood for one has seen umpteen number of articles, references in movies in derogatory way the female personification role portrayed in Kuchipudi Yakshaganam to the extent of misquoting and distorting one such specialist Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma’s views and linking to performance of stree vesham being one of the social problems leading to AIDs by a reputed journalist in a national level daily.

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Sunday 12 March 2017

Astad Deboo’s Rhythm Divine II: River Runs Deep - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Ever seeking new challenges and scaling artistic heights, contemporary dancer Astad Deboo choreographed Rhythm Divine II- River Runs Deep, with traditional drummers from Imphal, Manipur, in collaboration with Shree Shree Govindaji Natsankirtan headed by Guru Seityaban Singh. Presented by Astad Deboo Dance Foundation and Raza Foundation on March 3 at Kamani Auditorium, Delhi, the show was a runaway success from the word go.
Astad has been working with Manipuri martial artists and drummers for the past 16 years. Ten years ago, the young, vigorous, steeped in their own cultural traditions Pung Cholom drummers performing in a comforting cycle of familiar security, and he started working together. Astad interacted with them with help of Guru Seityaban Singh, and planned   contemporary work, exploring the tradition of Pung Cholom with eight drummers drawing inspiration from their movements, extracting the essential movements minus drums, resorting to abstraction, choreographing sections which reflected, as Astad explained in his program notes, more open articulation of old fears through bold, new creative with music and movement, a brasher engagement with restlessness and frustration.

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Thursday 9 March 2017

Shruti Mandal heralds half a century of service to Indian Arts - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

I recollect how in 1964, eyes shining with fiery plans for spreading art knowhow in Rajasthan, particularly Jaipur, Kaushal Bhargav had in a private conversation told me about how he had started Shruti Mandal in Jaipur with the patronage of a prosperous local business magnate - late Prakash Chand Surana who shared his love for the arts. For Kaushal Bhargav, a bachelor who spent all his life’s efforts in the cause of creating and spreading art, any production on the theme of Rajasthan, the land, the tableaux, getting group dance scenes of dances of Rajasthan, presenting classical dances before the general population, exchanging ideas with Jaspal Singh who headed the cultural unit of Ashok Hotel, was forever engaged in myriad art spreading activities.
He started the Uday Shankar festival in Jaipur and one remembers the early instances when a variety of dances were featured in different venues. Going through the fifty year activities documented in their publication ‘Adi sadi ka sunahara safar’ is like going through a who’s who of the Indian performing arts world. It is replete with photographs of archival value - a very youthful Yamini Krishnamurti, Sonal Mansingh, Uma Sharma, or a young Basavarajaguru or Sharan Rani Mathur, or a boyish Vijay Kichlu -all in the starting years of their career looking at you in these pages. There were, I remember, in Jaipur of those days, the odd few art scholars like Komal Kothari who were engaged in doing very detailed, sophisticated research while providing patronage and working with Rajasthan’s (what have now become) world famous musical families - the Manganiyars and the Langas.  Kaushal Bhargav’s efforts were more for the general public and his contribution to Rajasthan’s art encouragement is highly valued today. Shruti Mandal, now celebrating fifty years of work in promoting art, remembers with a deep sense of gratitude the pioneering zeal and guidance provided to their organization by the founder, Kaushal Bhargav.  

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Wednesday 8 March 2017

Male messengers of the muse - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Are our classical dances, especially in the manifestation of Bharatanatyam – revived and revitalized around Independence – already tending to become somewhat gender specific? Do the viewers, especially in north India and among the vast Indian diaspora, show any special preference for the female dancer with ‘prettification’ ruling the roost and gaudier, the better? In a land where dance as a performative art draws its genesis as well as entire inspiration from Lord Shiva as Nataraja and Lord Krishna as Natabara – both revered as dancers nonpareil -- would a trend such as this not appear to be anachronistic?
There is another germane issue about the male dance teachers who nourished and nurtured the muse, giving it ‘a local habitation and a name,’ beginning from the legendary Thanjavur Quartet, who shaped the early Pandanallur form, followed by a string of illustrious gurus who honed Bharatanatyam in its various manifestations, including Meenakshisundaram Pillai who aided Rukmini Devi Arundale in conceiving the Kalakshetra style. Then there were Bhagavatars and masters from Andhra and Chennai who moulded Kuchipudi; Kalamandalam products, International Centre for Kathakali and others who guided the Kathakali dance-theatre to achieve its present pattern; stalwarts from the ‘Jayantika’ conclave who conceived the modern day Odissi; the Bindadin family and a host of others in Lucknow, Jaipur, Banaras and Raipur gharanas who showed Kathak the way forward from being mere storytellers; Manipuri Sankirtan and Raas Lila leaders who lovingly brought Manipuri to the open; and, by the turn of the twentieth century, the Sattra adhipatis who brought the male Sattriya dance to the fore. While, no doubt, the female dancers joined wholeheartedly in this exciting fray, it appeared for a long while that the male of the species was the dominant dancer-scholar-choreographer-conductor in the performance arena. Is this scene now in for an almost irrevocable change? 

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Tuesday 7 March 2017

Festival of Festivals: 43rd year of Khajuraho Dance Festival-Part 2 - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

I missed the Kathak solo by Rasmani Raghuvanshi, but saw Manjiri Kiran Mahajani's solo Kathak. Trained by Rohini Bhate, Manjiri has grasped her guru's Kathak style faithfully. Since it was the day of Mahashivaratri, most of the dancers concentrated on Shiva theme. Manjiri also chose story of Daksha Yagna, written by Rohini Bhate as kavit Kathak form. To the recitation of the story through abhinaya she described the humiliation of Sati, and Lord Shiva's Tandava, Lord Vishnu appearing and requesting Lord Shiva to regain peace. Full of natya element it was a memorable number. Another noteworthy presentation was Tirvat in Bihagda. Few dancers present this number which has melodious musical element. Munnalal Bhar (vocal), Nissar Hussain (tabla), Praveen Arya (pakhavaj) and Amala Shekhar for padhant, gave Manjiri musical support with customary finesse.

 Bharatanatyam exponent Rukmini Vijayakumar from Bangalore, disciple of Padmini Ravi, late Guru Narmada and late Guru Sundari Santhanam from whom she received training in karanas, gave a scintillating performance with her commendable technique and natural gifts. Of the two numbers, she presented Swaraguchha in talamalika, a string of swaras, rhythmic phrases. Rageswaravali was composed by Raghuram and jati composition by Gurumurty. 

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Saturday 4 March 2017

Festival of Festivals: 43rd year of Khajuraho Dance Festival 1 - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

I know of no other dance festival in India which has continuously lasted for more than forty two years. This is the forty third year of Khajuraho Dance Festival (Feb 20-26) with extended art activities transforming the venue into a multi-art event, engaging cross section of visitors to Khajuraho, be they tourists from within India and abroad, performing artists, painters, sculptors, litterateurs, film buffs, photographers, musicians, event managers, bureaucrats, dance critics, or common men who out of sheer curiosity walk into the grounds where for seven days from ten in the morning till ten in the night there is  enough for each one to savour, relish.

From among the organizers, it often happens that someone is bitten by the bug, as they say and bring his vision to fruition with likeminded persons, who are willing to stick their necks out, work tirelessly against all odds and difficulties, surmounting them and creating opportunities to expose those who visit Khajuraho to various expressions of culture besides classical Indian dance forms.

Having been associated with the festival from early years, I see its growth from mere presentation of the dance forms to dialogues with dancers, art historians, critics, thinkers, film makers, theatre workers, painters, photographers and from this year beginning a new series of interacting with neighbouring countries, beyond borders, drawing attention to interconnectedness, sharing common traditions, that transcend gender, caste, religion and bring to one an awareness of human quality but also universal truth, offer space to reflect and elevate one through art to a higher level not only of enjoyment but also to involve and care and concern for people.

I have been attending the festival again since last three years and am delighted to share with readers the magic spell the festival is casting with these added activities. I have shared with a team of people and in particular Rahul Rastogiji, along with Chinmayji, their vision which with Rahulji’s natural leadership quality and ability to galvanize his colleagues and convince the government officers to raise the bar of the festival.

Right from turning the ground in to a festival area, where workshops with crafts people, who mould shapes from earth into objects of art, earthen wares, the weavers that weave magic with warp and weft, their looms, the boundless variety of handloom, handicraft, textiles from different parts of the country, the exhibition Art Mart of painters mainly from Madhya Pradesh, sculptors, venue for Kalavarta, also sharing in the afternoon screening of documentary films not generally seen, but carefully selected, involving actor Raja Bundela,  and at a special enclosure Nepathya where each year focusing on a particular state and its dance heritage with exhibition of costumes, masks, objects of rituals, floor paintings, designs, and performances between 6 and 7pm and then leading audiences to main event of dance with the backdrop of Chitragupta temple metamorphosing the ambience  transporting onlookers to a dream world. Stars shooting in all directions, crescent moon resting like ardha Chandra on jata of Lord Shiva, appearing in sky above, resting on shikhara of the temple prepare the audience to relish the classical dance forms with enchanting music.

To weave around the main event of dance, all that I have mentioned above is fascinating. And when the dancer appears in solo from the side to strains of music its appeal visually is stunning. The temple provides a context, a setting for unfolding of mythological stories, which dancer enacts, stringing the chords and evoking archetypal memories. Be it a prayer to Sun God, or Ganesha or Lord Shiva, the audience gets ready to receive it in moments of bliss. What the rhetoricians call Rasa, the relish is experienced with this god given setting of Khajuraho temples.

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Wednesday 1 March 2017

Anita says...March 2017

How much dance can one watch in a month?
For yours truly, it becomes difficult to attend shows more than 4 times a week, since feelings and images blur and bleed into one another and the distinct memories and architecture of each performance dissolves to leave one large incomprehensible stain. February was one such month. So much dancing, rehearsals, touring, watching.... the year's shortest month flew by.

February also gave me the opportunity to be a part of a dramatically diverse swathe of dance experiences. Erotica, arangetrams, doom as personal diary, the evergreen Krishna as protagonist, an outdoor performance in an open maidan, day long immersion seminars, clueless university professors - I was thrown into the thick of them all!

Read the message in the site

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