Thursday 28 June 2018

Freud and Flashback - Glimpses into World Drama - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

The Bratyajan International Theatre Festival 2018 - bringing to the eastern metropolis the vignettes of experiments being carried in the domain of theatre in remote corners of the world - has now touched its seventh year. The brainchild of Bratya Basu, an accomplished theatre artist, playwright and director, the festival aims at evolving a theatre consciousness among the spectators in this part of the country about the varieties of productions that are metamorphosing the course of this art form everywhere and are pointers to new directions. Basu, who is reaching his own half century only next year, is already a formidable force to reckon with in the cultural milieu in the metropolis and with his inspiring guidance, the festival is scaling new horizons every year. 

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Tuesday 26 June 2018

Poem - From Kolusu to Salangai - Ashley

Dhalangu thaka dhiku thaka thadingina thom,
Thath Thei Tham, Dhith Thei Tham
Adavus are the stepping stones,
Dancing musically with each step
Ankle bracelets accenting every move,....

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Sunday 24 June 2018

Roses and Thorns - Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards 2017: Is the process mechanized? - Bhavanvitha Venkat


Sangeet Natak Akademi awards announced and congratulatory messages pouring in the social media is now the order of the day. During this time of the year it has also become essential to critically analyze the results. No doubt there are many complaints, some justified though. It has become a practice to ignore one classical dance art form, set more as an authoritarian assertion about prerogative of the body. There is no base for this. 

This time they did not consider Mohiniattam... "What's wrong with our dance?" exclaimed a Mohini! Is there logic? Yes, there is the mechanics of it coming to the fore. Previous year they omitted Odissi, remember?? The new phenomenon though is about self-promoting lobbies this year. The good thing about the lobbies is that they clearly put the selection committee to alert and the not so good thing is that their main objective is their very own benefit. Often you sense this informal and tacit understanding that they are ok with balance of mutual interests! 

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Saturday 23 June 2018

Obit/Tribute - Guru Thokchom Brindashabi Devi (1934-2018) - Sinam Basu Singh

Manipuri dancer and singer, Guru Thokchom Brindashabi Devi, daughter of (late) Th. Thaobi Singh and (late) Th. Atolshija Devi , born on 31st March 1934 at Thangmeiband Hijam Dewan Leikai, Imphal, passed away on June 10, 2018. 

At the age of 4 she started to learn Manipuri Opera (Gouranggalila, Sansenba, Udukhol etc.) from various gurus of Manipur.

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Friday 22 June 2018

Ravaged land, scarred psyche - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

KI-TA-RE-BA presented on 6 June in Kolkata by Sapphire Creations, was a tribute to the rich cultural mosaic of Sylhet in a filigree of dance, theatre, music and narrative. The title of the program came from Sylhet's customary term of addressing each other to mean 'How do you do?', especially for the youth, and had a strange resonance with 'Kitareba' that is used in distant Japan endearingly to mean: 'to arrive, to be forthcoming, to come'! The occasion was the launch of 'Subijoya Dance Foundation' in remembrance of the late parents - both belonging to Sylhet - - of Sapphire's director Sudarshan Chakravorty, who also conceived and choreographed the present program.

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Thursday 21 June 2018

Measuring the SPIC MACAY experience - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

How does one measure what Spic Macay has achieved by way of actually opening up young minds to the richness of India's art disciplines? Over the years having watched how youngsters respond to the annual International convention (the sixth this year) gives some idea into how successful or otherwise the efforts of this movement have been. This year's Convention venue at the IIT Kharagpur (June 3 - 9) was special in more senses than one. If the keen interest taken by the Director and his staff in this entire effort was unusual, it was also because of the very significant past connections when the father of Dr. Kiran Seth, the founder of this movement, taught at Kharagpur with little Kiran roaming and playing on the historic grounds of this institution located at the Hijli Detention Camp where those taking part in the non-cooperation movement against the British Raj had been detained - because no prison could accommodate them, with two unarmed detainees also being shot by the British police in 1931. Closed down in 1937 but reopened in 1940, it was in 1942 that the camp was closed down for good, with the IIT township established in 1951 over its 2100 acres. Organised with an undreamed of efficiency, the entire week's events were like a fairy tale. 

Apart from the main performances with over 300 artists giving off their best, for me the real involvement lay in the other events built round these main performances, through workshops, intensives, and the packed schedule with youngsters being woken up in the wee hours of 3.30pm every day. 

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Wednesday 20 June 2018

Article - Indian spirituality in Western modern dancing - Pallavi Verma

India is a land of ancient wisdom and spirituality. While the west is a golden gate to technology and prosperity, today, Yoga in the west is all over the place just like their fast food. It has 20 million practitioners in the U.S alone. The number of high profile people involved in yoga, their adapted trendy gypsy dresses, popular henna tattoos, the display on a magazine or album covers, the culture has taken a fancy to Indian spirituality and fashion, the hot pursuit of a body beautiful. This cross-culture fertilization between two cultures has been like a long distance affair, caught in their blush of infatuation. Yoga has thus been led to its watershed version. We can see some of the catalyst events in the past.

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Sunday 17 June 2018

Portrait of a tortured artist - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Taray Taray presented on May 29 by Swapna Sandhani – on their 26th anniversary – was a wonderfully vivid filigree of the Van Gogh saga encapsulated at multiple levels. At one level, it is young Ritwik (essayed very well by Riddhi Sen) suffering from hallucinations that he is the torch-bearer of the past legacy of Van Gogh. Lovingly looked after by wife Sharmila (Surangama), he is undergoing treatment by a psychiatrist Ruksana (donned most competently by Reshmi Sen).  In recapitulating Holland and France as the artistic milieus of the 19th century, Van Gogh is seen as the suffering, struggling painter – remarkably brought alive by the brooding acting style of the thespian Anjan Dutta – with whom Ritwik’s life is entwined as his younger brother, Theo, who has a love-hate relationship with sibling Vincent, while supporting him financially all through his years of gnawing penury. 

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Monday 11 June 2018

Interview - Aditi Mangaldas on 10 x 10 - Shveta Arora

Kathak exponent and guru Aditi Mangaldas recently had younger dancers of her Drishtikon Repertory Company, present short thematic pieces as part of a production called Ten By Ten. Aditi Mangaldas elaborates on how a theme becomes several different concepts and pieces and how it all goes from idea to staging.

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Saturday 9 June 2018

Fantasy: The Ominous and the Hilarious - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

The proscenium stage in the eastern metropolis saw recently two significant forays into the worlds of hallucination: the one of a perilous all-encompassing autocracy and the other a boisterous rock-and-roll comedy, enveloped by a darling ghost who recites sonorously from Kalidasa's Meghadootam at eleven o'clock every night! 

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Thursday 7 June 2018

Why Kumudini Lakhia’s Kathak stands out for its presentation - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

When Kumudini returned from London after performing with Ram Gopal and settled in Ahmedabad after her marriage with musician Rajani Lakhia, she was already an internationally renowned dancer. Her exposure to world dances, ballets, costumes, lighting and showmanship helped her a lot to improve the presentation aspects of Kathak.

She received scholarship from Govt. of India to study Kathak under Lucknow Gharana maestro Shambhu Maharaj in Delhi in late 50s. She had studied Kathak under Radhelal Mishra of Jaipur gharana and dancer Ashique Hussain Khan. However, with her innate sense of aesthetics she was not happy with the way Kathak was presented in those years. She was aware that the art she was learning was from the traditional gurus who were supported by a feudal system. And that is the first thing she planned to do away with, to free Kathak from feudal system. During the Mughal rule Kathak in courts was presented to please the rulers and the salutations were de rigour, to the ruling Nawabs.  

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Tuesday 5 June 2018

Unexpected Odissi bonuses - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Considerable time has passed since one saw Jyoti Srivastava in a full- fledged solo Odissi performance, which is why her recital devoted purely to abhinaya, at SNA’s Meghdoot III theatre for an event featuring one senior and one junior dancer, was pleasantly surprising! Always known for her abhinaya, her centre-piece of interpretation of the eight nayikas, all strung to Oriya lyrics, was a welcome change from the routine recitals.  After the Mangalacharan with Krishna Stuti, came the Ashta-nayikas, the lyrics comprising music by Ramhari Das with rhythmic punctuations conceived by Dhaneswar Swain. The sensitively conceived dance composition was by Guru Durgacharan Ranbir. In the typical Debaprasad Das approach to Odissi, the dance was bereft of an overdose of elaborations or sancharis. But the less embroidered version, when performed with intensity, was very persuasive..... 

Seeing the glossy printed pamphlet on Swapna Rani Sinha, one wondered how a dancer who is mentioned as having achieved so much is not even known in Delhi. This disciple of Durga Charan Ranbir, sitting in Odisha’s Angul, the district headquarters, has been running a school Nrutya Nilaya, apart from organising a festival Satkosia Mahotsav at Angul, since the last six years.  But what emerged as a major surprise were the slim, well turned out, proficient dancers of her group performing at Habitat’s Stein auditorium. Swapna Rani’s own choreography of the Shiva Shatakshara Stotram set to raga Madhyamadi by  composer/singer Ramhari Das with rhythmic inputs by Guru Dhaneswar Swain in  Ata and Jati talas , saw a well coordinated group perform. In the Durgacharan Ranbir  fashion, movement is punctuated by powerful frozen moments (interpreting ideas like Shiva with the snake garlanding his neck - vasuki  kantha  bhooshanam -  or the blue throated Neelakantha lord) designed for the entire group with the well balanced dancers very still, heralding each of the syllables Na Ma Shi Va Ya ....

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Monday 4 June 2018

Book Review - Indian Dance under Gender Radar - Dr. Utpal K Banerjee

The Moving Space: Women in Dance
Ed. By Urmimala Sarkar Munsi & Aishika Chakraborty
Primus Books, Delhi, 2018
ISBN: 978-93-86552-50-1, Rs. 1395

As the book introduces itself, it highlights the idea of the 'space' created, occupied and negotiated by women in Indian dance. It initiates a dialogue between dance scholarship and women's studies, and brings together scholars from a multidisciplinary background, emphasizing the cardinal point that research and practice have roots in both these areas. The book takes dance as a critical starting point, and endeavours to create an inclusive discourse around the female dancer and the historic, gendered and contested 'spaces' that accommodate, or are created by her. 

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Friday 1 June 2018

Anita says...June 2018

"We should consider a day lost in which we don’t dance at least once."
- Friedrich Nietzsche (Philosopher)

May is a month of heat, holidays and hiatus.

It used to be that dancers would take a break from the searing heat to rest, recoup and reflect.
No longer. 
Too many dancers - too many platforms - too little money. The conundrum continues…

With such low expectations, dancers are content to zip their mouths and accept performance opportunities without any remuneration - in India.

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Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - June 2018