Sunday 28 April 2019

A well-articulated April - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Art articulates and a few genuine artistes, really articulated April well. 

First - Mysore Nagaraj - who is a unique character of Mysore, settled in Bangalore, who learnt Kathak from veteran Kathak guru, the late Maya Rao - has served arts selflessly. A good guru himself now with well-trained students, Mysore Nagaraj presents through his Articulate Foundation, a monthly event in Mysore and a yearly one in Bangalore. Yeoman service he does to dance and mostly, selflessly. He is what can truly be called a rasika, a genuine art lover. Only a true art lover can honor and value other artists. I'm happy to note ten years ago, our Dance Discourse at Alliance Francaise started the trend of honoring gurus who were missed by the system, through the attenDance Awards.

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Saturday 27 April 2019

Prism - Inventing of a Notation System for Mudra: The language of Dance and Theatre in Kerala-Part 2 - G. Venu

It was in 1977 that for the first time the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi organized a dance workshop which was directed by Guru Gopinath. Guru Chandrasekharan, Kalamandalam Gangadharan and myself were assistant directors. All the gurus of classical dance styles in Kerala participated in the lecture demonstrations and encounters in the workshop. It was after my discussions and interviews with prominent figures in Mohiniyattam including Kalyanikutty Amma and Satyabhama that the idea to study in detail the mudras in this style evolved in my mind. The field work towards this end was done by my wife Nirmala Paniker. Nirmala had trained under Kalyanikutty Amma for a long time, and as part of our study of the mudras did a short term course at Kerala Kalamandalam. It took us four years to complete the work on notations that analyzed the hand gestures in the then existing repertoire including Cholkettu, Padam, Varnam, Slokam and Saptam.

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Prism - Inventing of a Notation System for Mudra: The language of Dance and Theatre in Kerala-Part 1 - G. Venu

Dance Notation
Dance Notation is the medium by which the body movements are scientifically analysed and are delineated accordingly through the appropriate use of symbols. There is documentary evidence to show that from the 15th century itself dance was notated in the West. Recently I happened to read that even many centuries prior to this, the dance steps of Buddhist rituals in Tibet were documented using signs. The most popular notation systems available for Western dance is 'Labanotation' and 'Banesh System'. I did try to learn 'Labanotation'. In the Western style of dance, importance is given to the movement of the parts of the body and choreography. But in Indian dances, equal importance is given to all the constituent parts and subparts from the head to the foot. The different parts of the body have different movements. The notation system of the West and their symbols is not sufficient to document the Indian dance forms. Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan who had studied 'Labanotation' much earlier has also made similar observations. I have devised a dance notation system to record Kathakali mudras in 1965. This article is about delineating and publishing 1752 mudras of Kathakali, Mohiniyattam and Kutiyattam over the years which has become perhaps the world's largest collection of hand gestures.

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Article - Aharya Abhinaya - Pallavi Shidhaye

(Second winner in the junior category in the 'Nrutya Shabda' essay writing competition conducted by Neha Muthiyan's Loud Applause and Swarada Dhekane's Samvaad blog. This is a translated essay.) 

Aahaaryo Haarkeyur Veshaadibhi: Alankruta

An act which is adorned by external accessories like garland, ornaments around the arm and costume is called Aharya Abhinaya. The concept of acting (abhinaya) has its origin from Bharata Muni's Natya Shastra. Acting is an art of expression. Aharya Abhinaya plays a significant part in the classical form of dancing. Abhi is a Sanskrit word and means "leading an audience towards" the experience (bhava) of a sentiment (rasa). 

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Thursday 25 April 2019

Interview - Saswat Joshi: Teaching was in my genes - Tapati Chowdurie

Saswat Joshi has carved a niche for himself as an Odissi performer and teacher. Young Saswat of Titilagarh in Bolangir district of Odisha started his Odissi training under Kumkum Mohanty, continuing later with Ileana Citaristi. He is the brand partner of Odisha Tourism and the Folk dances of Odisha globally. Rabindra Bharati University in Calcutta awarded him the Sangeet Ratna title with a gold medal in Odissi dance. Saswat was featured in the film 'The Journey' by Hollywood director Sandrine Da Costa in 2012. His Sambalpuri dance performance of Rangabati in the film 'Koun Kitney Pani Mein' has been widely acclaimed. Currently associated with Tamilnadu Tourism for Incredible India Project, he has kickstarted Odissi institutions for the promotion of classical and folk dance in Italy, Hungary, Japan, France and United Kingdom. He is founder/director of Lasyakala, besides being a guest faculty at Rajasthan Central University. In the movie 'Month of May', he became famous for his Sambalpuri folk dance in front of Eiffel Tower, Paris. 

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Tuesday 23 April 2019

Odishi Raga Utsav - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Held at Delhi’s Triveni auditorium, with the finest of floral decorations, arrangements and a plethora of courtesies extended to each of the participants by the organizers of the event - Odishi Academy of Gopal Panda - the title of the Utsav almost forced the question out of me, “So what’s changed with all your efforts?” Ever since I can remember, Odishi music has been fighting for a place in the firmament of classical styles. The great Jayadeva from Odisha in his 12th century kavya Gita Govinda mentions ragas like Gundakeri, Varadi, Desavaradi, Mangalagujjari and the 15th century Oriya Mahabharata written by Sarala Das of Odisha mentions modes like Bhairavi, Malasri, Garri, Bhairava, Vasanta, and even talas like Khemta are mentioned. “All these and ragas like Sree and Prathamamanjari are part of our Odishi music system,” claims Pandit Gopal Chandra Panda who has been at the forefront of the movement for Odishi music to recapture its old glory and bring back into circulation its old ragas. 

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Monday 22 April 2019

Madhavi Dance Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Under the aegis of Kri Foundation, the dance festival in memory of Madhavi Gopalakrishnan, mother of Rama Vaidyanathan, on 3rd April at Habitat Centre, Delhi, explored two dynamic female characters: 'Shoorpanakha' by Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel, daughter of Rama Vaidyanathan and 'Still I Rise' centering round Draupadi, showing her plight, as of all women, by Vidhya Subramanian.

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Friday 19 April 2019

Creative dances surging ahead! - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Contemporary dance in India, as practiced in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, is generally known by the same name, but in Kolkata, the prevailing nomenclature is "creative dance". Whatever, they all draw a clear divisive line from the classical dance practices in India, now clearly categorized and recognized by Sangeet Natak Akademi. Nabanritya, the brainchild of Manjushri Chaki Sircar (and her gifted daughter Ranjabati: both, alas, no more!) had veered more towards the creative dance genre since its inception in the 1950s and 1960s, with a very inclusive outlook in its bold formulation. 

With clear roots in the dance theatre of IPTA in the post-Independence years, Manjushri allowed herself to be influenced by Manipur's pre-Vaishnavite Lai Haraoba and later Vaishnava traditions on one side, and Purulia Chhau and Bengal's folk dances on the other side, simultaneously encompassing Indian classical genres to define techniques, movements, costumes and even music, as might suit them.....

Presented on March 31, Dream without wings at the Sapphire Annual Gala 2019, by the Sapphire Creations Dance Troupe and Sapphire Dance Academy, was an extravaganza, performed by some 50 dancers - spanning the age groups between 4 to 45 years - to tell the story of our children and what they aspire to be. Directed by Sudarshan Chakravorty, who has led Sapphire for all 26 years, the choreography was cascaded - in age -- from the younger lots to the gradually older ones, till one arrived at the professional company, who backed up to provide the "mirror image" of what the toddler alongside wanted to become -- or was it not to become? -- and be fulfilled, or frustrated, as the case might be. ....

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Thursday 18 April 2019

Article - Indian Dance through the eyes of a Yogini-Kapila Vatsyayan - Dr. Navina Jafa

The Indian classical dancer today is challenged to constantly reinvent themselves to survive the contemporary socio-economic space defined by capitalist economy, technology, social media and synergies of complex patronage systems. The market demands recorded music, fast pace padded with technical productions that can grip the audience. The Indian classical dancer exists in a swirl of a dizzy environment constantly negotiating the manner, the content and the aesthetics can be innovatively presented to sustain the central place in organizer's lists. This article refers to Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, her views on innovations in Indian classical dance. 

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Wednesday 17 April 2019

Rango'ntaratma: Multi-media presentation with a difference - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Anugraham Classical Community, a charitable trust with a discerning membership presented Rango'ntaratma, a multi-media presentation conceived by Kamalini Dutt, ex-founder director of the Central Archives Doordarshan, where she pioneered the release of over 100 DVDs of intangible cultural heritage. The theme is inspired by Kashmir Shaivism in its non-dualistic approach (surprising when viewed against the backdrop of what is happening in Kashmir today) going back to that great son of Kashmir, Abhinavagupta, but for whose commentary, understanding of the Natya Sastra would have proved very difficult. 

Built round the central Sutra of Shiva Sutras concerning the inner consciousness as the performance arena where life is played out, this production tries to catch that unseen essence to be expressed through the language of music and dance.

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Wednesday 10 April 2019

5th edition of Nrityodaya's Nrityolsavam Dance Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Ayswaria Wariar is a name to reckon with in the field of Mohiniattam. She has been organizing classical dance festivals annually in Vadodara inviting dancers from different parts of the country. Trained in her childhood by her mother, she later took lessons in Kathakali under Udyogamandal Vikraman which helped her to master netrabhinaya and mukhajabhinaya. She studied further under Kalamandalam Saraswathi in Kerala. She worked with Kavalam Narayana Panicker, and learnt items based on Sopanam music as devised by Kavalam. Ayswaria has also studied Bharatanatyam under Sucheta Chapekar in Pune. Nrityodaya offers training in both Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam. Among her other accomplishments Ayswaria has choreographed, directed and acted in Nilima, a film on Mohiniattam. 

Nrityolsavam took place from 22nd till 24th March at CC Mehta Hall, Vadodara. 

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Tuesday 9 April 2019

Impresario evening impresses - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

While large audiences for dance recitals have become rare, Impresario India continues to impress with good responses to all its shows. Over the years, the organization has developed a very faithful clientele of members and well-wishers. This for me stands out as one of the finest achievements of the organization. Its annual festival sponsoring new choreographies, was this year restricted to just one day with two productions featured - Tagore's Chitrangada visualized as a Nritya Natika in Odissi by Ranjana Gauhar and Saptaavart in the Kathak style produced and visualized by Prerana Shrimali - both proving to be laudable presentations.

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Prism - Classification and serial order of Odissi dance (1975)- Pankaj Charan Das, Translated from Odiya by Ileana Citaristi

(Paper presented on the occasion of the Seminar on Odissi Dance organised by Sangeet Natak Akademi at Bhubaneswar on 28-29 July 1975) 

When I start to write about the classification of Odissi dance, the first thing that comes to my mind is the way Odissi dance got its name. My affiliation with the Mahari tradition which is the genealogical dance culture of Sri Jagannath temple is almost lost in the passage of time. I was the first artiste to bring outside the yard of the temple whatever I had learned about this style of dance by teaching it to my first student Laxmipriya in 1946. That day for the first time it was presented in ABHISEK, a play of the writer Ashwini Kumar Ghose on Arnapurna drama stage of Cuttack. 

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Saturday 6 April 2019

Tribute to Kalanidhi Maami and Rasa Purna Festival - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Kalanidhi Narayanan (1928-2016) - 'Maami' to one and all - has been a legendary figure in Indian classical dance. An early non-devadasi girl to learn the dance form and showcase it on stage in the 1930s and 1940s, she had a brief performance span in the 1940s; but her return to dance in 1973 after 30 years and a full married life -- to become the most notable teacher of abhinaya - was nothing short of phenomenal. She had trained more than 1000 students in her cherished art of abhinaya till she was alive. Her sporadic, yet much sought after appearances in Delhi for lec-dems at India International Centre or intimate soirees at the Defence Colony premises of Jamuna Krishnan, the Bharatanatyam exponent and aesthete, would be the most cherished moments with 'Maami' recalled by this critic......

Rasa Purna Festival
Presented at ICCR Kolkata on March 25 and 26 by Natyanova Performing Arts Centre in collaboration with Kri Foundation and Sparsh Studio, this was a two-day gala with workshop, seminar, guest performances and Natyanova repertory's new production. Bharata's Natya Sastra around the 2nd century had described bhava and rasa in performing arts, but it was left to the insight of Kashmir's Shaiva philosophers who analysed the Rasa Sutra with philosophy and literature and it was Abhinavagupta among them who had elaborated Rasa theory with clarity. Indeed, the Rasa Sutra provides an underlying unity in all Indian art forms.

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Wednesday 3 April 2019

Silver Jubilee of Guru Pankaj Charan Das Utsav and Centenary celebrations of Pankaj Charan Das: Part II - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

In memory of Pankaj Charan Das, Adi Guru of Odissi, his son Sarat Das and Guru Pankaj Charan Odissi Foundation in collaboration with Govt. of Odisha, GKCM Odissi Research Centre organized a five day dance festival at Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar from 17th till 21st March.

Day 3 & 4

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Silver Jubilee of Guru Pankaj Charan Das Utsav and Centenary celebrations of Pankaj Charan Das: Part I - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

In memory of Pankaj Charan Das, Adi Guru of Odissi, his son Sarat Das and Guru Pankaj Charan Odissi Foundation in collaboration with Govt. of Odisha, GKCM Odissi Research Centre organized a five day dance festival at Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar from 17th till 21st March.

Day 1 & 2

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Monday 1 April 2019

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - April 2019

Anita says...April 2019

I don't see why one shouldn't be fascinated with the human form. We go through life in this wonderful envelope. Why not acknowledge that and try to say something about it?
- American artiste, Dorothea Tanning

The challenge of compressing an entire month's thoughts is heightened when a flurry of events unfold on the first day of the previous month!

I write this from New York City, my former home for over a decade, where my two children were born and where I had an exciting career as a Television host and producer. This image is of me standing under the canopy of my former office. Inside the historic ED SULLIVAN THEATRE building on 53rd Street on Broadway, the same building that now houses the exciting late night talk show of the irrepressible STEPHEN COLBERT.

30 years since I left NYC and my previous life, it still continues to inform and energise me with its chaotic, eccentric energy. 

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