Sunday 29 July 2018

Golden Jubilee celebrations of Sangeet Sattra - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Raseswar Saikia Barbayan, the legendary Sattriya guru, established Sangeet Sattra in 1968, after he returned from Kamalabari Sattra to Guwahati. He got married and started teaching young maidens Sattriya dances. This was a revolutionary step as the celibate monks of Sattras performed in the Sattras and women were not allowed to either enter Sattras, or dance. However, realizing that there need not be any gender bias and women are equal devotees with a right to perform, his earlier students included Indira PP Bora, Sharodi Saikia and his own two daughters Ranjumoni and Rinjumoni.... 

This being the Golden Jubilee of Sangeet Sattra, Ranjumoni as the principal organizer had planned to present a large number of students to showcase their training....

Read more in the site

Wednesday 25 July 2018

The many contra facts and fractals of dance scholarship - Soch: Column by Dr. Arshiya Sethi

This is my first of the monthly column I hope to write for Narthaki for a long time to come. I have titled it ‘Soch’ as each column will have one idea that I will explore, exfoliate and excavate. I debated about calling it some of the more resonant synonyms of soch, like ‘khayal’ and ‘chintan’ because of their more ponderous meaning, but soch is a sufficiently significant starting point for a flight of imagination, light as a bird and ever on wing! 

I would also like to honour the place where Narthaki founder Dr. Anita Ratnam offered me this column - Malta, by locating the perch of the first Soch in this magical Mediterranean island embedded in the embrace of azure waters.  Nestled between southern Italy and northern Africa, Malta’s beautiful shores, baroque architecture, ancient monuments, to say nothing of its mouth-watering cuisine, make it a highly sought after tourist destination.

Read more in the site

Monday 23 July 2018

Venkateswara of Seven Hills and Panduranga Vitthala of Pandharpur - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Never-say-die art consultant Usha RK has come up with another dance production of divya kshetras, Tirupati and Pandharpur.Roping in bright young dancers Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel for Tirupati and Arundhati Patwardhan for Pandharpur, Usha led the audience to these two pilgrimage places in an engaging manner. Both the artists have in their mothers, seasoned dancers, and both the daughters have done their mothers proud.

Usha's commentary on Tirumala Devasthanam was well researched with excellent Annamacharyakirtanas to go with dancing. Ditto for Pandharpur and Tukaram's abhangas and ovis, vachanas, with vachikabhinaya. They evoked bhakti rasa and in terms of music, whereas Dr. S.Vasudevan and other accompanists offered melodious music highlighting Annamacharya kirtanas, Arundhati's Pune based musicians brought a whiff of fresh air with Marathi abhangas to which audience clapped and tapped with their feet. The joyous mood lingered on and both the dancers kept us in thrall with their dancing.

Read more in the site

Damnation to Redemption - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (1894-1950) was one of the leading writers of modern Bengali literature. Examples of his highly diverse literary genres are: Pather Panchali (autographical ‘saga on the road’ transferred memorably on the celluloid by the cineaste Satyajit Ray); Aranyak (nature’s saga on a forest trail with all its mysterious intimacy); Chander Pahad (a travel saga of adventures in the then unknown world of Africa); and Devjan (the esoteric saga of the after-life of its hero). A lesser known genre, verging almost on ‘morality’ play was his Athai Jal penned in 1947, where he explored the epic saga of a perfectly normal man’s encounter with the so-called ‘degenerate’ world of the early 19th century Bengal, his plunge into its passion driven turmoil, heart and soul, and eventual resuscitation back into the familiar normalcy. 

Read more in the site

Saturday 21 July 2018

'Her Say' by women theatre directors - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

It is heartening that The Raza Foundation's Art Matters series, which so far has been largely concerned with music, dance and painting has finally begun to look at theatre too - perhaps the most dynamic of art expressions along with painting, in terms of being largely engaged with contemporary situations reflecting the thirst and fire of life as lived now. 

The evening at IIC's Kamaladevi complex termed Her Theatre comprised a panel discussion by well known women theatre directors - Neelam Mansingh, Kirti Jain and Maya Rao. Are women directors different from male directors? Does Her Theatre have gender leanings? Do female directors have a heightened feel for democratization? Has the entry of women directors led to more humanized or more civilized theatre? These are some of the points that Ashok Vajpeyi raised in his introduction.

Read more in the site

Thursday 19 July 2018

Awards on an arbitrary criteria - Madhavi Puranam

The Sangeet Natak journal of the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), the premier body for arts in the country is languishing without an editor and with no regular issues coming out. In a country with a population of more than 130 crores, there is no serious academic journal on dance. Much has been spoken about the SNA and the culture departments and the bureaucrats and how they have failed to deliver. 

But what about the dance community? Impeccably dressed to kill, they light up any party or gathering. Scratch the surface and there is a vicious streak of jealousy and self centred vanity and even intolerance. Standards of dance are not getting any better. The best in most cases is just mediocre. Spouting a few slokas here and there with the torso bent with humility which can vanish to expose claws and fangs at the slightest review of their work by able critics, the dancers (there are exceptions to the scenario) make for a scary world.

Read more in the site

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Opulent Odissi - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Kolkata, the eastern metropolis, is lucky to be rich in its number of well-groomed Odissi dancers. Thanks to several visits, residency programmes and extended workshops that legendary guru Kelucharan Mohapatra conducted in this part when he was alive, a number of his illustrious disciples today perform and run disciplined centers of training and performance here. Sharmila Biswas and Sutapa Talukdar have been foremost among them and now the young Subikash Mukherjee has joined the rank. Bahana and Ravash were two of the most recent works of the last two choreographers. 

Read more in the site

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Enterprise and talent keep Sutra afloat - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Odissi on High, the latest of Ramli Ibrahim's concepts, presented by Malaysia's Sutra Foundation at Kuala Lumpur's Experimental Theatre, Universiti Malaya, had audiences exclaiming over the verve and vivacity and excellence of the presentation. But one was more taken up with the manner in which Odissi as an art form has acquired such a strong permanent presence in a region outside of Odisha or even India. Even more mind boggling was the fact of the same ticketed programme presented over four evenings consecutively, attracting good audiences every evening. Try as one would, the comparison with India just could not be wished away, and I was unable to erase the image of our spoilt public wanting invitations, with even friends and so called well wishers having to be cajoled into attending dance events.

How does Ramli Ibrahim, settled in an area which cannot provide him with the allied disciplines needed for Odissi like mardal percussion, Odissi music, Odiya poetry for thematic material, present a block buster festival every year? From where does he get the resources?

Read more in the site

Thursday 12 July 2018

Folk divas from Bangladesh drama - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Theatre - - in all its manifestations - - forms the lifeline and blood sinews of the culturally conscious people of Bangladesh. Jatra and other folk variants are favorites and, come winter, the whole countryside goes agog especially with Jatras, mythological or historical or even socially nuanced ones, often running through entire nights. The rich literary heritage of Bengali lingo does not preclude adaptations from Sophocles and Shakespeare, Ibsen and Brecht. A new surge of life has come into the vibrant performing arts scene after the liberation of the country in 1971, today's playwrights and theatre personalities are justifiably varied, and many theatre groups fly their bastion of excellence with great aplomb.

Theatre Narrative from the East, held recently at the E.Z.C.C, Kolkata, from June 22-28, showcased seven plays performed by as many theatre groups from Bangladesh. One major trend that emerged from the festival was the canvas of a woman's life: her love, separation, deprivation, chastity, struggle for survival, self-sacrifice and the history of sheer fight for existence. The patriarchic society seems always to control her destiny and determines her self-expression in conformity with the male-defined norms. This critic took up two folk annals that poignantly echoed this age-old ethos and registered their muted protest.

Read more in the site

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Two day Festival of Bharatanatyam at Dhaka University - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

In continuation of the two day festival of Manipuri dances celebrating birth centenary of Guru Bipin Singh, Lubna Marium arranged Rangasree Bharatanatyam Festival (June 24 & 25, 2018) showcasing artists of Shadhona at Nat Mandal Theatre Studies Department of Dhaka University.

Two years ago, I had seen Amit Chowdhury and others at Khajuraho Dance Festival. Bangalore based Kirti Ramgopal, disciple of late Padmini Ramachandran, had trained him with few Bharatanatyam numbers including a varnam. In Bangladesh, Bharatanatyam performances by leading dancers from India are arranged by ICCR and Indian High Commission. Leela Samson, C.V. Chandrasekhar, Alarmel Valli have performed at Dhaka often. They have been also invited privately. Under ICCR, C.V. Chandrasekhar has often conducted Bharatanatyam workshops and offered training in Bharatanatyam. Other dance forms like Odissi and Mohiniattam have also been staged in Dhaka by Madhavi Mudgal and Bharati Shivaji.

Lubna Marium has received training in Bharatanatyam at Kalakshetra for a brief period. She is anxious that Bharatanatyam dance form takes roots in Bangaldesh. Samson has trained a young Muslim dancer Anisul Islam Hero and he trains young students in Bharatanatyam. At Shadhona under Kolpotoru, several Rongoprobesh (arangetram) have been arranged in the past and regular training twice a week in Bharatanatyam is given. Amit Chowdhury supervises the classes. He is working in Theatre Studies Department and carries on practicing as well as learning whenever he gets opportunity. From Kolkata, Rajdeep Banerjee, a Bharatanatyam teacher, has earlier trained him in Bharatanatyam. Later on he took further lessons from Kirti Ramgopal.

Read more in the site

Sunday 8 July 2018

Interview - Swarnamalya Ganesh on research in dance - Shveta Arora

Recently, I watched a most interesting performance of Sadir. It was a first for me. The fact that it was Bharatanatyam, but the performance very different from what a regular Bharatanatyam recital looks like, made me want to understand more about the research that goes into the production. Swarnamalya Ganesh is a dancer, who has been researching not just Bharatanatyam pieces to be performed, but also the dance itself - how it was influenced by cultural and political changes, who practised it, their lives and society, and the more secular repertoire that said a lot about all of this. Here is an interview about a recent performance in Delhi called When Stories Take Form, in which she presented stories about the settings and audience for Bharatanatyam - or Sadir - during the colonial rule in the Madras Presidency.

Read the interview in the site

Thursday 5 July 2018

Many and Mono - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

This metropolis saw, in quick succession, two quality productions with mixed media: a multi-starrer spectacular - with nearly a hundred actors - - as an audio-visual extravaganza and the other a lonely monologue of a hapless girl led astray by an unkind world. Interestingly, both productions had credible choreographic inputs by Sudarshan Chakravorty, who steers Sapphire Creations.

Read more in the site

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy’s two day Manipuri Dance Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy arranged a two day Manipuri dance festival in collaboration with Guru Bipin Singh Centenary Festival to pay tribute to the legendary Manipuri guru in Bangladesh. It was Guru Bipin Singh’s disciple Shantibala Devi who had thirty years ago during her visit to Dhaka started teaching Manipuri dances to local young girls. Among them was Tamanna Rahman who took to studying it seriously. The seeds of Manipuri dance were thus planted in Bangladesh.

Read more in the site

Sunday 1 July 2018

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - July 2018

Anita says...July 2018

A work of art, when carefully contemplated, enters our mind, becomes part of ourselves, as happens with a gripping tale, and adds another life to our own.
- Sylvain Bellanger
Director, Capodimonte Museum, Naples

A familiar pattern seems to have emerged each July. 
I find myself outside India, outside home ground and embraced by strange and exciting environs.
Greece, Spain, Africa, Chile. 
And now Italy and Malta. 

These annual summer travels are propelled by various factors.
Family reunions, theatre and dance conferences, recharging and recouping times.

This trip is a combination of many strands. I have been in preparation for a grueling tour of 3 countries and the advance work relies heavily upon my single shoulders. Without the usual diaspora MAAMA-MAAMI circuit to cushion the classical dance shows, my theatre and educational trips are not as well funded but oh so rewarding! With visas becoming more difficult to obtain for accompanying artistes and fees becoming squeezed by global right wing/anti-art lobbies, the present and future is mottled to put it gently!

I have never understood the wisdom of leaving India to dance again and again only for your own people who live outside. Yes, the wealthy diaspora - especially in the USA - also have demands for culture/entertainment (sometimes they confuse one with the other) but the new societies themselves exist beyond the ghetto clusters of most diaspora groups. And our immigrants refuse to remove their blinkers and realize that they actually DO NOT LIVE IN MYLAPORE ANY MORE! And Mylapore has changed more than San Jose!

Read more in the site