Thursday 28 March 2019

April Phool - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Phool in Hindi means flowers and if this spring was to go by, what an abundant spring! Flowers everywhere. They give joy, don't talk back, remain neutral and nice and unless broken, last for long. However, giving flowers at functions, especially dance functions, is painful to both the flowers and the recipient. They wilt in the heat as these are wrapped in plastic and brought to the hall often many hours before the event; they lie limp and by the time these are given to the performer or the dignitary, these are in coma if not dead! Like most things Indian, we just do, without thinking much.

Why not for same money buy a book and gift? Or a music CD? Or dry fruits? What is good and applies to flowers applies to those shining, cheap shawls too. Never to be worn again, what use are these shawls but token of respect shown? One can't even make curtains out of it as not long enough and besides, shining glare hits the eye. Doormats? But that is showing disrespect to the giver, even if given out of tokenism. So again, gift a book, a CD or dry fruits. Please remember this next time you as an organizer or dancer, or both as is often the case nowadays, do this. 

So March brought many interesting ideas and events to fore. I chose a few to show how dance matters in society or can. 

Read more in the site

Sunday 24 March 2019

Smrutikusumanjali - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

I happened to be in Mumbai when Dr. Sandhya Purecha, disciple of Guru Parvati Kumar, celebrated his 99th birthday on 27th February at Ravindra Natya Mandir Mini Hall in presence of Guruji's wife Sumati Parvati Kumar and several leading dancers and disciples of Acharya Parvati Kumar. The Late Guru brought the Marathi Nirupanas, a set of 18 rare items written by Raja Sarfoji II, from Tanjore to Maharashtra, composed and choreographed them and even compiled them with intelligible notations in the form of a book called the Thanjavur Nritya Prabandha. 

Read more in the site

Women and Ecology - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

A three day festival on Woman and Nature, recalling passages from traditional arts, from culture and lifestyle studies not omitting folklore, held at the IGNCA, saw the Sattriya exponent Mallika Kandali perform along with her group. Divya Prakriti Parva focused on woman's role in preservation and conservation of ecology and environment. The dancer naturally had to go back to the work of Sankaradeva, the Neo Vaishnavite reformer (1449-1568), credited as the father of the Sattriya tradition. In his ritual plays (Bhaona), though a direct reference to women in the mentioned role is hard to come by, his female characters like Rukmini and even Sita for instance are very strong people, far from the weepy, cringing types. But the reformist was very conscious of ecology sustained with a belief that every micro aspect of the cosmos reflected the macro identity of the Infinite. Sensitive to nature as Sankaradeva was, one comes across delightful verses describing nature in different moods, and through the description of seasons, and how women responded to them one could deduce and arrive at some ideas on how emotively women related to nature. The female characters in Sankaradeva's plays while not clinging vines compared in literature to creepers, had their beauty like that of Mohini compared to various flowers.

Read more in the site

Monday 18 March 2019

Article - Navarasa Sadhana: An inner awakening - Sonali Mishra

Evoking rasa in a performance is the pinnacle of the Indian arts tradition. The rasa-bhava concept is integral to Indian performing arts and is explained in great detail in Bharata Muni's Natya Shastra. However, while extensive studies have been conducted on this subject, its practical applications are often lost in the theoretical analysis, disengaged from a contemporary outlook and understanding. G. Venu, dancer, scholar, and devoted practitioner of Koodiyattam, has developed a unique training program in acting/expression that allows for a practical application (and understanding) of particular aspects of the Natya Shastra, one that incorporates breath, imagination and sensory awareness to invoke the feeling and mannerisms of a particular character. This unique system has been growing in popularity amongst actors, dancers and other artistes seeking a means of channeling emotions in a systematic manner. Using his extensive experience and study in Kathakali and Koodiyattam, Venuji has answered the question that so very many artistes/dancers ask: is there a way to 'practice' abhinaya/expression? The Navarasa Sadhana technique allows for a systematic and routine practice of each of the nine rasas.

Read more in the site

Sunday 17 March 2019

The Lyrical and the Intellectual - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

The Little Clay Cart
Shudraka, the playwright of the well-known Sanskrit play Mrichchakatika (The Little Clay Cart), belonged to the hoary years even prior to the beginning of the first Christian millennium. There is one theory that he wrote under the pseudonym of Shudraka, meaning a "low-caste servant", to imply that he actually completed an unfinished play by Bhasa, Charudattam, calling himself 'the servant' of the well-known dramatist. The other conjecture is that he was, on the contrary, a mighty king of his time. Whatever the reality about the author, the play was a striking departure from the prevailing forms of drama, of necessity, to be written about the royalty and noblemen, as enumerated in the Natya Shastra and, instead, incorporates a large number of peasant characters who speak a wide range of Prakrit dialects. Remarkably enough, the play has been widely staged not merely all over India, but also in the West, namely as a highly romanticized French adaptation, Le Chariot d'enfant, that premiered in Paris in 1850, as well as a critically acclaimed 'anarchist' interpretation, called Le Chariot de terre cuite that was produced by the Theatre de l'oeuvre in 1895.....

Six Characters in Search of an Author
Sei Personaggi in Cerca d'autore (Six Characters in Search of an Author) was a famous Italian play by Luigi Pirandello, written and first performed in 1921. An absurdist meta-theatrical play about the relationship among authors, their characters and theatre practitioners, it premiered at a theatre in Rome to a mixed reception, with shouts from the audience of "Manicomio!" (madhouse) and "Incommensurabile!" (incommensurable), a reaction to the play's illogical progression! Reception improved at subsequent performances, especially after Pirandello provided, in 1925, a foreword clarifying its structure and ideas. The play had its American premiere in 1922 on Broadway and was performed for over a year off-Broadway, beginning in 1963. Astonishingly, this play - together with his Henry the Fourth - has remained the only two most often-performed works by Pirandello, out of his equally remarkable oeuvre of 44 plays, in all!

Read more in the site

Friday 15 March 2019

Book Review - Universal dance and drama - Nita Vidyarthi

Universal dance and drama-A collection of my articles
By P. Medini  Hombal
Luminous Books Varanasi
136 pages, Soft covered
Price  Rs. 295
ISBN 978-93-8514-968-9

This very first book by the young author, an Assistant Professor of  Bharatanatyam, IKSVV, Khairagarh (C.G.) is a slim 136 page compilation of the author’s articles and research papers related to dance and drama of India and South East Asia, presented in journals and national and international seminars. Hence the approach is academic, direct and comprehensible. Divided into twelve chapters, the focus is mainly on Bharatanatyam with information on its basic grammar.

Read more in the site

Interview - Watching a performance through my camera is like meditation: Avinash Pasricha - Shveta & Anoop Arora

I am brought back to the same vision - a beautiful dancer on the stage, presenting abhinaya as the lovelorn heroine, and then nritta with several movements and chakkars. But your memory cannot retain these visions to be seen later by you or your friends. Words alone would not be able to describe the moment, and that particular movement. And so click, click, click goes the camera, and all is preserved for posterity.

Many a time, in trying to explain a movement, I have to consult my husband, who's a photographer, and he can show me the exact picture. And at times, multiple images of the same movement, which are clicked every fraction of a second, capture almost every aspect of the movement. I think my article would be incomplete without the pictures.

Here, I am profiling a person whom I've met at several performances in the past few years. In almost every performance in Delhi, he is there with his wife Santosh, sitting among the front row audience. This unassuming person is the legendary photographer Avinash Pasricha, who has worked extensively with many dancers and dance forms for over half a century. His contribution to dance is unparalleled. My husband and I interviewed him together, since there were technical aspects of photography that the two could discuss better. 

Read more in the site

Tuesday 12 March 2019

First edition of Kalahrnisham National Dance Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

For readers who do not know Dombivli, a suburb of Mumbai, it is next station to Thane on way to Kalyan. The well known young Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher Pavitra Krishna Bhat, originally from Mangalore, moved with his parents some thirty years ago to Dombivli. As a child he had great passion for dance. His parents indulged him. He only studied elementary Bharatanatyam from his first teacher but that did not deter him from performing anywhere. His parents also pushed him to perform during occasions like Satyanarayana puja or Ganeshotsava. With complete involvement Pavitra performed and made onlookers happy with his endearing personality and dancing.

Read more in the site

Friday 8 March 2019

Article - Dancing from Diaspora to Disney - An artist's Margam - Ulka Simone Mohanty

When we think of dance in mainstream corporate entertainment, specifically in North America, we rarely expect to see representation of Indian classical dance forms. Certainly, Bollywood styles have now become very prevalent and en vogue, but the mainstream awareness of the classical forms is still relegated to a niche, and somewhat exotified specialization. 

As a South Asian classically trained dance artist and choreographer growing up in the Canadian diaspora, similar to that of the United States where “classical dance” meant only ‘ballet,’ there was always a struggle of having to clarify what Bharatanatyam was, and how, no, it wasn’t the same as ‘bellydance.’ There was a certain self-consciousness and self-worth associated with continually having to validate and explain the many years of dedicated rigour required of one’s art form and I would often find myself wishing I had trained in ballet instead. Because at least then there would be an unquestioned validation. 

Read more in the site

Thursday 7 March 2019

Social and metaphysical narratives in Odissi - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Human civilisations are replete with events where patriarchy has held sway over a generally submissive matriarchy and the latter had allowed the dominant masculinity to take over control and assumed a nurturing role of providing care and comfort in the society. History has, however, known other occasions when patriarchy had bludgeoned the female species into submission and extracted a most heinous price from the latter.  The glaring cases – happening mostly in wars and anarchy -- were the “comfort women” forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II, drawn  from occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines. Similar instances, nearer our time, have been the Khan soldiers in East Pakistan before the liberation of Bangladesh and, more recently, by the IS troops in the Middle East “using” women as sex slaves.....

The cosmic quest of the world and beyond starts from the viewpoint of Pancha Bhuta (five elements), manifest as an coalescence to form the life force and then  disintegrates to ensure a celestial traverse at the atomic level. An innovative production in the lyrical Odissi style, Ananta was an exploration of some of the most profound philosophical concepts from the ancient Vedas and Upanishads. Choreographed by Arnab Bandopadhyay in Odissi style, the visualisation also blended creative movements, classical and contemporary music, and Vedic chanting, with the latter rendered soulfully by the noted classical vocalist Dr. Subhadra Desai..... 

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Sanchari Festival of Films on Dance 2019 - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Hot on the heels of Kalavardhini’s 40 years Parikrama in honour of Dr. Sucheta Chapekar’s 70th birthday at Pune, Kalavardhini arranged a two day festival of films on dance in collaboration with Pune’s National Film Archive of India, and Loud Applause, on 16th and 17th February in two sessions a day. This was the second year of their screening of films on dance.

The venue is one of the finest film halls with latest state-of-art facilities, excellent projection and acoustics. Being national film archive theatre, it is very clean, neat, sound proof and with best facilities for projection. Thereby it adds to the pleasure of watching the films. It was a pleasure meeting the present director Prakash Magdum, who has been in office the last four years. 

Read more in the site

Friday 1 March 2019

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - March 2019

Anita says...March 2019

The old has collapsed
But tries to stitch together its fallen pieces
To weave another tapestry
To give it a life span
But staggers at every step, and falls apart again
It tries to patch work - but now
Even that doesn't work
It has come to a halt!

- Excerpted from the New Vision statement of AUROVILLE 

Let me open by saying that despite all the social media posts and discussions, reviews and blogs about performances, THIS monthly editorial seems to be more anticipated, quoted, excerpted, dissected, discussed, debated and shared. It is both a compliment and a marker for the changing styles of dance discourse. This once a month observations on performances and dance related events were always meant to be subjective. 

Read more in the site