Thursday 27 July 2017

Varsha Ritu draws showers of appreciation - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Varsha Ritu, the annual Monsoon festival mounted by the IIC (July 19 & 20), designed by late cultural activist Manna Srinivasan in 2010, has over the years, judging by the handsome audience response,  evolved into an event on the cultural calendar of the International Centre, that members look forward to. Mainly built round budding young dancers of different dance forms, the one hour performance slots incorporating at least one specially composed thematic item woven round the Monsoon season, have exuded freshness, creating a growing sense of expectancy in the viewers – often captivated while watching less publicised talents.

Providing the curtain raiser, Kathak dancers Leena Malakar Vij and Purnima Roy Chaudhury, disciples of Jaipur gharana specialist Nandini Singh, performed with an infectious sense of joy. The recital held together by the finely controlled mellifluous vocal support of Shoab Hassan with Babar Lateef on the tabla, in the opening invocation Pratham sumeer Sri Ganesh in Desh set to Chautal, (bearing the still un-erased signature of late Pandit Durga Lal)  brought back stirring nostalgic memories for those in the audience who had seen the Kathak master in action. Also from Durga’s repertoire was the finale of Tarana in Bageshwari set to jhaptal. While the two dancers combined well, the more contained dancer was Poornima Roy with a sedately still torso. Leena Malakar, given her involvement and swaying grace of movement, could perhaps control her exaggerated torso genuflexions – to preserve the Kathak angik profile. 

Read the review in the site

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Article - A transformative journey through the Nine Emotions - Shereen Saif

Renowned Kutiyattam exponent, scholar and founder of Natana Kairali, Venu G. elaborates: “The Natyashastra is the greatest work on theatre and stagecraft in the world. This was written when theatre development was at its peak in India. In 6,000 verses what Bharata essentially talks about is how an actor should prepare for stage, fully supported by a practical, living tradition of theatre. With the decline of theatre, quite naturally the application of Navarasa-s got watered down from its full potency to such an extent that today, in some representations it is reduced to the enactment of emotions with mere contortions of the face.” 

Read the article in the site

Sunday 23 July 2017

Book Review - Contemporary Dance in India - Dr Sunil Kothari

Marg volume 68 # 4, June –September 2017
Edited by Astad Deboo and Ketu H Katrak
Marg Foundation, Mumbai 400001
Price Rs. 350 / $14 (plus postage)

After the publication of New Directions in Indian Dance (Marg vol. 55 No. 2, December 2003 and its reprint in 2005, edited by Dr Sunil Kothari), the major important work on the subject was published by Prof Ketu H Katrak of Irvine University, California: Contemporary Indian Dance, New Creative Choreography in India and the Diaspora (Palgrave Macmilan, UK). It has covered in depth the subject with interviews of major dancers who have been creating contemporary dance within India and Indian Diaspora abroad. Another welcome addition to the writings on Contemporary Dance in India is the critical thinking in: Tilt Pause Shift: Dance Ecologies in India edited by Anita E. Cherian published in November 2016 by the Gati Dance Forum in association with Tulika Books, New Delhi. 

Read the review in the site

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Interview - Dr. Nandkishore Kapote: I want to take Kathak to new heights - Vijay Shanker

One of the senior most Kathak exponents based in Pune, whose enriching contribution spans more than three decades, Dr. Nandkishore Kapote is the disciple of Pandit Birju Maharaj. He has established the Nandkishore Cultural Society and the Sitara Devi Art Museum. He is known for his charismatic performances and as a choreographer for thought provoking and social dance dramas. He has won several prestigious awards and is a senior fellow of the Ministry of Culture. Nandkishore reveals his journey and his aspirations in this candid interview.

What drew you to dance?
I was inclined towards dance since my childhood and I recall my family members telling me that at the age of three I started dancing. I stayed with my grandparents in my childhood; my grandfather who was working as Commissioner in the Revenue Dept got transferred frequently and hence I had to change my school every time he got transferred. We were at Tilaknagar near Shrirampur where my talent was first recognized in the school. I performed for songs "Madhuban mein Radhika nache re...," "Laaga chunri mein daag" which I myself set and performed and this was highly appreciated by my teacher who advised my grandmother to impart dance training to me through a proper guru so that I can perform better.

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Tuesday 18 July 2017

Discourse on dance - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Dance discourse is undergoing a slow but steady make over. Wherever one goes, one sees added energy to dance presentations. The commentary has improved greatly. Introductions, punctuality, program notes, contextualization. Dance Discourse. 

Mumbai first: For a city where many felt in this century (2001 onwards) classical dance almost was on its last legs as patronage had declined and most veterans were past performing actively, an over-bearing presence of films and TV - loosely called Bollywood – didn’t help and also dominated. Now there is a sense of revival and survival of the fittest. After the veterans had had their performing careers for 50 years from post-independence to last decade, there was a lull and slowing down of classical dance eco systems. Organizers were few; only some dancers survived and by and large, those waiting in the wings didn’t get a chance. Only 2 or 3 established institutions even produced dance or students.

NCPA has done yeoman service to promotion of dance in the last few years. Their calendar is fulsome. Nalanda does its own in-house talents, a large pool of students and teachers. The generation (in the age group 50 to 60+) that has now come of age professionally are Daksha Mashruwala, Uma Dogra, Uma Rele, Sandhya Purecha, Jhelum Paranjape, Sunanda Nair and Vaibhav Arekar. These are the happening classical dancers of amchi Mumbai today, who are active, visible nationally and committed. All are keeping the flame alive and taking a tradition forward. 

Read on in the site

Sunday 16 July 2017

Sparkle of Kathak-Gharana or Otherwise - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Indian classical music especially in the north India, with its hoary beginnings, came quickly into a Gharana system in recent times. Venerable gurus, since the last century onwards, established their own preferences in ragas, modes of melodic elaborations and nuances in improvisations. Over next two or three generations, their disciples took their gurus’ styles forward and established what came to be recognized as ‘Gharanas’.

Indian classical dances, comparatively a late starter, did not get time enough to entirely freeze with their gurus for a few generations, though distinctive characteristics emerged. Only Bharatanatyam did evince variations between Pandanallur style and Vazhuvoor style, besides a Kalakshetra style. Odissi developed, for instance mellifluous manifestations associated with guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and tantric overtones with guru Debaprasad Das. Kathakali had its distinct genre of Kerala Kalamandalam, as did Mohiniattam with gurus in Mumbai, Delhi and Kerala. Kuchipudi – moving out of Kuchipudi village -- varied somewhat between Chennai and Hyderabad, if not Delhi. Manipuri from the far-east remained fairly homogeneous in character though gurus from Kolkata and Delhi did occasionally differ from Imphal. Sattriya‘s entry into the scene was much too recent. But -- barring Bharatanatyam to an extent – no other form had anything remotely resembling Gharanas: except perhaps Kathak.

Very briefly, the spectacular entry of Darbari Kathak into the Indian dance scene from Lucknow in the mid-19th century, with its dazzling emphasis on sattvikand angik abhinaya, led by the illustrious Bindadin Maharaj’s family and so many others, became known as Lucknow Gharana, followed at the turn of that century, by bold rhythmic  syllables of kavit, acrobatic spinning and strong powerful footwork of Jaipur Gharana under Sunder Prasad and a galaxy of other gurus. A late amalgam of Kathak dance under Sukhdev Maharaj and Gopikrishna led to Banaras Gharana, while the king and his conclave of gurus at Raigarh brought up Raigarh Gharana. They all are deservedly called Gharanas, although it so happens that the bulk of gurus and trained Kathak dancers –seen performing -- belong to Lucknow Gharana today, with gurus from the other three Gharanas getting unwittingly a short shrift. The legitimate question voiced by many -- especially those from what could pardonably be called “minority segment” – is whether this is entirely fair, or, whether there can be one single Gharana for Kathak.

An all-India survey was undertaken by this humble critic to elicit brief answers from among the country’s cognoscente belonging to the Kathak fraternity – especially from among the legendary masters; from renowned gurus and top dancers; and from some brilliant youngsters. The survey obviously could not be exhaustive in a limited time and the views expressed were from the dance exponents themselves. This critic is immensely grateful to the Kathak celebrities who took their time off and framed their thoughtful replies.

Read the responses received in the site

Saturday 15 July 2017

Brave effort in Delhi by Bangalore based dancers - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Steadfastly refusing to be dampened by the sapping heat of summer or the Azad Bhavan auditorium of the ICCR as venue - too far from the art hub of the city to attract a large viewer clientele - not to speak of the scant interest from the scattered city students of dance, Bangalore's Abhivyakti Dance Centre with Manasi Pandya Raghunandan as Director of the festival, mounted what was called the National Dance festival in association with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

The first half of the event in the form of a seminar featured senior dancer Geetanjali Lal, Ranjana Gauhar, Bharati Shivaji and Prathibha Prahlad, along with Guru B.K. Shyam Prakash, Founder Director of Sanskruthi Bhavan Keshava College of Music and Dance, Bangalore, Dr. Uma Rele, Principal Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya, Mumbai, and this writer. Cautioning against the craving in dance aspirants for catapulting to stage performances even before gaining proficiency in the art form was Geetanjali Lal's narration of the lambasting she received from her Guru Roshan Kumari for having succumbed as a child student to performing in a event. That learning a dance form entailed much larger effort involving study of other disciplines beyond only body movement and that the process of the learner's inner growth could not be hurried was a point stressed by this writer also in the opening talk. 

Read more in the site

Thursday 13 July 2017

Gods through syncretic prism - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Odissi Parampara, presented by the petite Muslim dancer Arnaaz Zaman, all of 22 years old, on the occasion of Rathayatra in Kolkata, was a perfect illustration of the deep cultural amity that the likes of Raskhan and Salabega have established and sustained in this country. Beautifully groomed by the Odissi stalwart Kavita Dwibedi, Arnaaz followed the usual margam of Odissi. Beginning her program with a Mangalacharan following the Jagannath Ashtakam, she went over to an elaborate Saveri Pallavi which was well delineated. Switching over to an ashtapadi from Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda, she rendered soulfully the song “Sakhi he keshi mathana mudaram…” in raga Pahadi. Although less than a year old on the stage from her Rangapravesh last year, she showed commendable dexterity in depicting child Krishna’s Kaliya Damana, but Govardhan Dharana should have been paid a little more attention. This was followed by yet another ashtapadi “Srita Kamala…” in raga Misra Khamaj. In a short recital, her concluding item was a delightful Moksha in the scintillating raga Bhairavi.

Read more in the site

Wednesday 12 July 2017

To smile or not to smile.... - Seen and Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan

The prince of Denmark (Hamlet - in Shakespeare's classic, in case you are an ignorant dancer), in his famous soliloquy says with rather deep introspection "To be or not to be." For him and his country it was a very serious question.....

For us now, it is a matter of aesthetic concern....a dancer should think: smile or not to smile. 

Dear dancers, I can see you already smiling or laughing at this unusual proposition. Believe me, I am serious.

Read the article in the site

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Performing Arts and Yoga - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Yoga as a means of stilling the mind and bringing about unity of mind and body is no doubt an invaluable discipline. While one can rejoice in its spread to several corners of the globe today, one wonders if the hype being associated with Yoga is not sometimes erring by losing sight of its real merits in the glamorising.  With the top political dispensation having such faith in Yoga, the way artistes hailing from different art forms, are passionately trying to display the closeness of their art to Yoga, is a kind of politicisation of both Yoga and art that one needs to be wary of. A Yoga spirit accommodating undiluted concentration of mind /body in the search for one’s self through whatever discipline one is seeking is what is recommended in our performing arts – which are also different pathways to self realisation. Art disciplines need to be pursued with a yogic spirit for Arts as ‘sadhana’ in the ultimate state can achieve that complete harmony (samarasya) and sense of total release resulting in ananda - a state of oneness abolishing all forms of duality. This karmasu kaus’alam as the Gita says of concentrating all energy in pursuit of the journey one embarks on demanding the offering of the best one has to the best one seeks, is a yagna or sacrifice demanded of the seeker. What is implied in the Indian context of inter relatedness amongst disciplines,  is not being sought to be articulated in peculiar ways.

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Saturday 1 July 2017

Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - July 2017

Anita says...July 2017

"Dancing is a sweat job
The higher up you go
The more mistakes you are allowed
Right at the top, if you make enough of them
It is considered to be your style."
- American dancer Fred Astaire

I begin my thoughts in the midst of a long overdue retreat with the four fabulous women who have journeyed with me for the past 2 decades and more. Lalitha, Vidhya, Raksha and Akhila are on a well deserved holiday in Sri Lanka where we are brain storming, feasting, meeting creative artistes, taking long walks, and sharing a combined gratitude for our lives! None of the four are dancers! Thank you, ladies, for trusting me with this roller coaster ride we are all on! And Sumathi - our silent puppeteer and webmaster - we miss you! 

On June 21st, the entire world seemed to be poised in a collective INHALE-EXHALE mode.
While many iconic public spaces around the world were filled with yoga mats and convoluted bodies, it was only in my home state of Tamilnadu that there was not a murmur. In my daily morning yoga class with guru Radha Sridhar, we spoke about how it was in Tamilnadu that the "banyan tree" of global yoga started. Guru Krishnamachariar was the source for both BKS Iyengar (Iyengar Yoga) and Jois Pattabhi (Ashtanga Yoga). His son, the late Desikachari, continued the global phenomenon and today even health and fitness professionals confess that unless they add the word YOGA to any new physio or fitness routine, the students do not come!

While a scattered few students were photographed doing yoga in a swimming pool to combat the intense heat, the day was hardly marked in any significant way. 

Read in the site