Monday 31 December 2018

The French connection - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Shakespeare's 'King Lear' in Kathakali by Annette Leday, which travelled all of last 2 months and toured India through 7 cities - Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum and Ranchi - is India's latest French connection. No, not the Rafael deal that makes occasional news but dance from France (it rhymes!), which is number one country for things Indian. Especially cultural. For long, the French are inspired by India as fodder for ballet (La Bayadere in 1800s), Lala Rookh / The Rose of Lahore (1900s) and since the 20th century invasion of France by Uday Shankar from 1930s onwards (whose 8th December birthday went unnoticed by even the dance fraternity, leave alone the nation) that continues by many French continuing to learn Indian art forms, especially classical dance. 

Read more in the site

Saturday 29 December 2018

Nalanda Dance Research Centre's Nartanotsava - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Established in 1966 by dancer, choreographer, researcher and Guru Dr Kanak Rele, Nalanda Dance Research Centre in Mumbai is a major research institution that has set high standards in academia winning national and international reputation.

The two day dance festival of NDRC's Nartanotsava (November 24,25) held at Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya premises, at the auditorium Kanak Sabha, was noteworthy for two major reasons: Dr Kanak Rele wanted to honour not only her own senior disciples and colleagues with Nalanda Kanak Nartana Pursakar, but also to present senior local dancers who have dedicated their lives to dance and who willingly agreed to her mentorship to work and choreograph in their chosen dance form, themes selected by Kanak Rele with guidance on how they can extend the boundaries of the dance forms. Also this was a fortuitous occasion as Kanak Rele was honoured with Kerala Government's Guru Gopinath Nritya Puraskaram for 2018 for her significant contribution to Kathakali and Mohiniattam, and Mumbai based Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikhar Puraskar 2018.

Read more in the site

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Adoration and Abstraction - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Uday Shankar Nrityotsav organized by the State government’s own culture department, has become now a hardy annual over the years in the eastern metropolis. Bringing in a cross section of the State’s major dance institutions, this perhaps provides the largest forum for the dance bodies to present their latest compositions and be assured of a large number of viewers at Rabindra Sadan, the largest and the best-equipped auditorium of Kolkata.

It would be salutary to quickly recollect that Uday Shankar and Rukmini Devi Arundale – the two icons of Indian dance from the middle of the twentieth century – were both, most coincidentally, gifts to India from the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, whom these luminaries had approached, in own way, early in their career for assimilation in the Western genre and who were successfully and definitively sent back to their vibrant sub-continental roots. How both proceeded to give Indian dance “a local habitation and a name” is now part of the recorded history of Indian performing arts scenario.

Read more in the site

Article - She sees the real shakthi in underprivileged girl child - G Ulaganathan

For the pretty, talented Bharatanatyam dancer Nehha Bhatnagar, the world of dance is not just for making money and achieving fame. She strongly believes that she should share her knowledge with the children who cannot afford to learn any style of Indian classical dance. 

Having learnt Bharatanatyam from a renowned guru like Saroja Vaidyanathan in Delhi, and performing as a solo dancer in many cities, one thing that worried her was the same faces and people who came to witness dance and marked their   presence in the air- conditioned auditoriums in Delhi. She realised that there are hundreds of young girls who cannot even enter these auditoriums but were very talented. They lived in bastis, slums and colonies and their parents were  basically daily wage earners. “They also have a dream in their eyes. But who will give wings to their dreams? I realised that I need to give something back to society and the best way is to teach dance to these underprivileged children,” she says.

Read more in the site

Friday 21 December 2018

10th edition of Parikrama dance festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

On the occasion of renowned Bharatanatyam exponent, choreographer, disciple of Acharya Parvati Kumar and Kitappa Pillai, Pune based Sucheta Bhide Chapekar’s 70th birthday, Kalavardhini institute organized a four day dance festival from 6th till 10th December at Pune. 

Sucheta has carved a special niche for herself in the world of Bharatanatyam. Along with her guru Acharya Parvati Kumar she delved deep into compositions of Maratha rulers of Thanjavur, choreographed by Parvati Kumar and herself and later on with the assistance and guidance of Kitappa Pillai. ‘Korvyanche Sahitya’, the compositions of Shahaji and other rulers, have enhanced the Bharatanatyam repertoire. Maharashtra Sahitya Sanskriti Mandal has published ‘Thanjavur Nritya Prabandha’ pertinent to dance compositions of 18th century Maratha king Sarfoji. Sucheta did further research on compositions of Shahji of 17th century. She has been presenting them since 1970. The most significant seal of approval came from the Music Academy of Madras when Dr. V. Raghavan presented Sucheta in the Music Academy morning sessions before a galaxy of stalwarts and since then Sucheta has been performing it on many platforms within India and abroad.

Read more in the site

Tuesday 18 December 2018

The Theatre of Femininity - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Patriarchy had trumped matriarchy over eons, for all the wrong reasons. Millennia back, when the hunter-gatherers constituted the entire humanity, hunting of large animals and carrying them to the dwellings needed muscle power of the male, who dominated women, confining the latter to home for child rearing. With the emergence of agricultural communities just a few thousand years ago and with assured supply of food, the nomadic travels ceased, leading to enhanced population that, in turn, gave rise to increased pregnancies and consequent child mortality. Women gained precious little, till the arrival of industrial age and now the information age, when, for once, both maternity and muscle have started to matter less and equity has increasingly prevailed among the genders with higher quality of life for all. Or, at least, this seems to be so in the developed societies, but the lack of development still carries the legacy of an overarching patriarchy.

Beginning with the “free” female labor on the domestic front, the consequent ills are well-known and numerous. They extend all theway from female feticide; early marriage of the daughters; newly detected high mortality of nubile mothers; post-marriage dowry death; and widowhood contemptuously exploited; up to the point of women being perpetually treated as “property” by their male “masters”. Down the line, male predatory instinct prevails for the unprotected, harassment for the unwilling and subjugation of the downtrodden from the other gender: unabated and most often swept under the carpet. It was high time the performing arts in India dared pick up the cudgels in all seriousness and this critic finds it heartening that the indigenous drama groups of Bengal are developing a genre that can be given the nascent appellation: The Theatre of Femininity.

Read more in the site

Sunday 16 December 2018

Dance sonnets to the sun god at Konark - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Standing in isolated grandeur is Odisha's Konark temple, a stone paean to the Sun God, its tower despite centuries of sea winds chipping away layers from the glorious surasundaris sculpted on its walls, raising a silent toast to the artistic genius of India's ancient sculptors. Konark is more than just a temple monument. Over the years, its image has become the identity of Odisha. This normally quiet township, beckoning tourists with its temple site and unspoilt beaches, turns into an activity hub during the week long annual dance festival mounted by the Odisha Tourism Department in association with the OTDC and Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi, supported by Utkal University of Culture and the Kelucharan Sangeet Research Centre BBSR. 

The open air theatre, with galleried seating, with a massive stage on two tiers, with the top of the magnificent temple tower as backdrop a short distance away, is perhaps one of the most glorious performance spaces in India for dance groups. 

Read more in the site

Friday 14 December 2018

Kathak Utsav: Showcasing of Kathak in Imphal - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Kathak Kendra, constituent body of Sangeet Natak Akademi, showcased Kathak in Krishna bhakti soaked Manipur on 28th and 29th November at Imphal with a view of interaction between two constituent bodies of SNA- Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy and Kathak Kendra. Indeed it was heartening to see this meeting of the Kathak gurus, exponents, faculty members of these two institutions and watch performances in an intimate setting during the inauguration of the renovated stage at JNMDA. 

The dignitaries, Kamalini Asthana, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee of Kathak Kendra, Prof H. Tombi Singh, Vice Chairperson, JNMDA, speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly and Director of JNMDA, during the inauguration function mentioned that such performances bring artists from different dance traditions and regions closer through their art and serve the purpose of appreciation of its salient features, variety and also unity of culture. Kamalini Asthana also mentioned that whenever the artists of JNMDA visit Kathak Kendra in Delhi and display their Manipuri dances, they evoke a deep feeling of respect for the dance traditions. These exchanges therefore are very important and both the institutions aim to achieve this purpose. 

Read more in the site

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Interview - How a dancer transforms: Streevesham dancer Abdul Khalid - Shveta Arora

I once watched a performance by Ajay Kumar and Sathyanarayana Raju. Here, Ajay Kumar was portraying Satyabhama in the Kuchipudi repertoire, and I can swear that if I had not known that he’s a man, I would have thought he was a tall woman. It was not only his costume, but his entire face makeup, his expressions, his dance that exuded femininity. So makeup for a dancer is very important because it can transform the dancer totally. 

Shringara is, hence, not only classical dance’s favourite rasa, it’s also a very real prelude to the dance performance. The process of donning the traditional dance costume, wearing the many pieces of distinctive jewellery, doing the hair and applying makeup is an integral and intimate ritual that transforms the performer into a nayak or nayika. I recently interviewed well-known makeup artist Brij Mohan Gupta on the nuances of doing makeup for classical dance, and he explained what the stylist/makeup artist focuses on. But for a view from the inside, I also interviewed Abdul Khalid, a Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer in Delhi who does stree vesham, and applies his own makeup for it. This one is about how a dancer transforms with and during their shringara.

Read the interview in the site

Article - Book extract: The Undoing Dance - Srividya Natarajan

(Excerpted with permission from The Undoing Dance, Srividya Natarajan, Juggernaut Books.) 

We waited for the performance to begin. It was gaspingly hot. The fans were too high up to be much help. The nasal sisters had stopped singing. A microphone was being temperamental. A baby began crying and was taken out, its receding wail broken into hiccups by rough joggling. Behind the backdrop the dancer walked up and down busily, her ankle bells proclaiming her location. On a rug at stage right, the musicians tuned their instruments. The mridangam player tested the pitch of his drum - dhim - dhim - dhim - raising the note infinitesimally with a tap! of his wedge and stone, over the thongs that bound the stretched skin to the wooden barrel. Dhim - dhim - tap - tap. It was a pleasant sound. The Biscuit King splayed his fingers comfortably on his thighs and leaned forward.

Read more in the site

Sunday 9 December 2018

Festival of Kathak duets - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Rag Virag Kala Kendra affiliated to Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal Mumbai and Prayag Sangit Samiti Allahabad was initiated in 2002 by late Sheila Siddhantkar. Since 2010, Kathak dancer Punita Sharma now the General Secretary, has been organising the two-day Duet Festival of Kathak in Delhi. Supported by the Ministry of Culture, the event sponsors young talents along with more experienced artists. 

When two persons share stage space in Kathak, the nritta part poses few problems. The challenge is in the traditional abhinaya segment with the Thumri, conventionally meant for solo depiction, which when presented by a pair of dancers sharing stage space calls for some imaginative designing in presentation aesthetics, with interpretative designing not marring this item's intrinsic identity. 

Read more in the site

Friday 7 December 2018

Dream and iconoclasm - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Mohit Chattopadhyay (1934-2012) was an avant garde dramatist in Bengali language and a poet, with over one hundred plays to his credit. Hailed as a Kimitibadi (one with the motto 'what is it?') playwright, because of the cryptic quality of his language, Mohit was critically admired for many milestone works in the history of Indian political drama produced with acclaim in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.

Captain Hurrah presented on October 31 in Kolkata by 'Ichchhemoto' was penned in 1970.....

Apparently imaged after the Middle-Age monasteries in Europe with their cloistered band of priests, Tagore's seminal play Achalayatan (The Static Institution) conjures up a fortress like closed space somewhere around us, with staunchly hierarchical religious luminaries, overseeing a group of well-secluded novices, bent on learning only their decrepit scriptures and strictly observing decades old rites in every walk of life. Tagore spins his allegorical tale in this cooped up atmosphere, where a certain learner has inadvertently opened up a certain window closed ritually for ages and is being administered mind-boggling punishments; a novice is brewing revolt by neglecting to learn his dicta and hobnobbing with the free tribals roaming around outside the closed institution's precincts; and the chief priest has uneasy stirrings in his mind on whether such rigorous formalism has at all been worthwhile. The "erring" chief priest is promptly banished; the overall 'guru' of the sect is heralded to visit after a very long interval and, when he finally arrives, he is seen in a rebellious mood to take down the stagnating citadel -- by leading the tribals to break into it - and freeing the institution of its accumulated bindings. .....

Read more in the site

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Shishira Chhanda Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Noted Odissi dancer Sarita Mishra established her Adyasha Foundation in 2010. Trained from a young age by various gurus and later on by Yudhishthir Nayak and by Bichitrananda Swain, Sarita moved to Bangalore after marriage. She found among Bangalore community, great interest in Odissi dance form. With increasing number of Odiyas settling in Bangalore, Odissi dancers receive support from the Odiya community. To the credit of Bangaloreans they have also shown interest in Odissi dance, despite the predominance and popularity of Bharatanatyam and Kathak. 

Four years ago, Sarita with support from well wishers planned a two day annual Shishira Chhanda dance festival inviting local senior dancers. Sarita also started showcasing her disciples along with the local established dancers and exposed the disciples ranging from tiny tots to senior dancers to other dance forms like Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Kathakali. She also presented her solo numbers which drew attention to her talent as a gifted solo dancer and choreographer. Within a span of four years, she succeeded in earning goodwill of several dancers and institutions for her sincerity, integrity and perseverance.

Read more in the site

Saturday 1 December 2018

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - December 2018

Anita says...December 2018

Creativity is not a will-o-the-wisp muse that visits erratically
Instead, Inspiration is a flower that requires pruning, tending, affection…
- American dance critic Erin Bomboy

I started writing this month’s musings from the calm environs of my ancestral home in the small village of Tirukurungudi, deep into the heart of Tamilnadu. When softened by the clean air, misty mountains and gorgeous architecture, it is easy to smile at the world. And perhaps I too need to smile, after a month of furious accusations, historic bans and the Carnatic music/dance world aflame with sexual accusations and festival cancellations.
I needed to exhale and the NAMBI Temple deep in the heart of Tamilnadu provided the perfect setting. 

Read the message in the site