Friday 23 June 2017

Fragrance of Fifty Roses - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Kalamandalam in Kolkata – a bit of Kerala transplanted into fertile Bengal – was, in the beginning, far less an institution and more like a dream for its founder-guru Govindan Kuttty. Armed with a thorough grounding in Kathakali from Kerala Kalamandalam and accompanied by an 18-year-old Thankamani – with her own exposure to dance for four years at Kalamandalam and an extra year on mridangam -- as his consort, the duo landed in the eastern metropolis in 1958. The language barrier was gradually overcome and the classical dance trainings by the Kuttys went on in right earnest, while the epithet “Kalamandalam” stuck in the meantime! Also, because of his immense talent as a Kathakali hero, Govindan was much sought after by Kolkata’s Gita Bitan and other institutions, mostly for Tagore’s dance-dramas. Govindan’s sudden passing away in 2007 was decidedly a major blow. Yet, 50 years and some 15,000 trained students later, Kalamandalam Calcutta has come to stay rooted in the city’s culturescape and today -- with its spread-eagled seven centres and nearly 2,000 students at any given moment – it is a major force for classical arts to reckon with.

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Tuesday 20 June 2017

Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Delicious snack packs that do your waistline justice - Sathya Nagaraj

Hi, Foodies!

Hope you have seen some slow and steady improvements to your health and wellbeing following the last couple blogs. If you are diligent with the morning smoothie and lunch recommendations, you should be feeling a real difference by now. The simple truth is when your body goes into ketosis, the fat has no option but to melt, and you will invariably end up feeling lighter. Track your progress and you will motivate yourself to remain committed to your lifestyle changes. 

Please remember not to exceed 50 grams of Carbs a day until you see real results.

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Wednesday 14 June 2017

Takeaways from SPIC MACAY’s annual convention - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Given the galaxy of names from a variety of art disciplines, dotting the programme calendar of SPIC MACAY’s 5th international convention held at this year’s venue of the IIT campus, New Delhi, I would like to ponder on the variety of impressions one came away with from the week-long celebration (June 5 – 11, 2017). From maestros representing different genres of music and dance from morning 9am to 12 noon Intensives in the lecture halls with established names in each field conducting classes, craft workshops presided over by top craftsmen, interactive talks with art makers from different fields like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Anjalie Ila Menon, Dadi Padamjee and Raghu Rai- all topped by early morning sessions from 4 - 7 am mostly held in open spaces  spanning over ten forms of Yoga, it encapsulated mini India in all its diversity.  

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Sunday 11 June 2017

Interview - Dr. Priyambada Mohanty Hejmadi - Tapati Chowdurie

In a chat with SNA awardee Dr. Priyambada Mohanty Hejmadi (dancer/art writer/biologist and a former Vice-Chancellor of Sambalpur University) at ICCR Kolkata, the scientist cum dance aficionado shared and revealed a lot of the Odissi story which roused the interest of this reviewer. She has been awarded the Padma Shri for her biological research studies by the government of India.

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Saturday 10 June 2017

A life like no other - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Giving title to books is not easy. Especially biographical ones.  How to come up with something original and nice? How to convey and CONTEXTUALISE life in dance in a few words? How to relate to these times while recapturing old, bygone days? How to be truthful, yet not state all? How to avoid controversies while getting eyeballs? How to reach out differently? How to, how to...

Having written / produced/ edited more than 40 books out of which 7 are biographies, I can say with some authority that it is ultimately a gift. Saraswati truly has to bless, else it’s not doable. A Life like No, not mine but title and teeth (substance) of Sonal Mansingh’s biography written by a civil servant named Sujata Prasad is an unputdownable read. Sujata not knowing much about the dance field is actually a plus: Few biases, fewer prejudices. No camps or camouflaging. It’s an AS TOLD TO type of bio. 

And what a bio! Dancers act shy, coy, wishy-washy on surface. Under the surface, most are survivors, often cunning and occasionally smart. Some are truly talented too!  But bold (and beautiful), not many. Sonal Mansingh is.

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Tuesday 6 June 2017

Article - Bollywood Kathak - Shama Bhate

I always have wondered and thought about this newly coined phrase ‘Bollywood Kathak’. What exactly does that indicate or denote or even describe? Does Bollywood Kathak have its own characteristics or a framework or codification - rules, principles and thereby a specific aesthetics to it? To my understanding, when Kathak dancers choose songs from Bollywood films for dance compositions, it is called Bollywood Kathak and nothing beyond this! By the same virtue, if somebody were to dance Kathak to Bengali film songs, would it be ‘Bengali Kathak’? Or to Marathi film songs, would it be called ‘Marathi Kathak’? To me, people choose Bollywood songs because these songs are immensely popular and already have their impact on the public mind. A dancer therefore takes advantage by taking a populist approach because it clearly is an easy way to directly reach the common audiences. In brief, it is a short cut to get instant popularity with minimum amount of study, training, toil and hard work! Period!

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Monday 5 June 2017

Interview - Success is never final to Sanjukta and failure never fatal - Dr. S.D. Desai

Sanjukta Sinha of Kumudini Lakhia’s Kadamb Centre for Dance and Music in Ahmedabad has been selected for Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in the Kathak dance category this year by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, in appreciation of her noteworthy work in the form and the promise she holds out. 

I guess on being selected for the 2017 Bismillah Khan award, you had an immediate connect with your guru mentally.  What’s so special about Guru Kumudini Lakhia?
My Guru Kumudini Lakhia is like a blessing to me from god. We share a very special bond and relationship according to guru shishya parampara. She is my guru, my mentor, my inspiration, my strength, my friend and like my family ... She is an epitome of knowledge, wisdom, grace and discipline. She has not only groomed me as a dancer but also as a person. I left my parents and home at a very young age to be with Kumiben and she accepted me as not just a student but like her own child. She is an extremely powerful person and at the same time fun-loving ... I have never seen such an active person at the age of 87. She is unique and special and I see her evolve and grow every day even now, which pushes me to be a hardworking student, a fearless performer and an efficient teacher.

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Thursday 1 June 2017

Anita says...June 2017

"Between lies and the truth lies the truth."
- Controversial British artist Damien Hirst 

Acceptance and acknowledgment need to come to every creative person. It is best if it comes at the right time, when the artiste is not yet past her/his prime. But better late than never!

The news of my selection to receive the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi honour for my contribution to the field of contemporary dance in India could not have come at a more surprising moment. I was gazing at the calm waters of the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Dubrovnik in Croatia when my phone lit up with several text and direct messages. The terse words just said “CONGRATULATIONS!" Another said "FINALLY!" Disconnected and on my own since May 22nd, I could not comprehend the intent of these messages until a dance colleague said it in a complete sentence! And what followed was a tsunami of emojis!

I did emit a silent exhale. It has been a long and mostly lonely road. For many, my dance-bio seemed a mottled and confused trajectory. Was I sprouting too many heads? I was not only performing but also organizing, speaking, writing, mentoring, travelling, curating... too many "distractions" or "lack of focus" to excel or shine in one particular field was the criticism I was often hearing. At a SRUTI magazine meeting presided over by founder N Pattabhiraman 18 years ago, I was roundly accused by senior gurus of encouraging young classical dancers to experiment and create on their own. 

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Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - June 2017