Sunday, 23 February 2020

Article - Evoking Navarasa in you - Devaki Rajendran

The journeys we make and the roads we take lead us to ourselves. This is a thought that constantly lingers in my mind. Every visit to Irinjalakuda and that mandatory visit to Natanakairali fortifies this very thought. The peaceful atmosphere and the palpable energy here, pulls me back again. The last time I visited Natanakairali, I witnessed a series of Koodiyattam performances that enriched me as a lover of art. This time, it completely changed me as a human being and an artist. The experience of the Navarasa Sadhana cannot be expressed in words. It was more than just learning a process. It changed the way I perceived, how I sought inspiration, how I acknowledged things.

The Navarasa Sadhana is an intensive practice routine designed for artists from all performance spheres. The workshop is structured in such a way that the participants explore the different layers of the nine rasas in detail and depth. Venuji through years of research and experiments has created this methodology drawing inspiration from the Koodiyattam training, Kodungallur technique of abhinaya, theatre practices from across the world.

The workshop began with an informal meeting and inauguration. The 15 member group including me introduced ourselves. We were blessed to listen to the soulful music of Parvati Baul and her group that morning. From here, we began our days of explorations.

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Saturday, 22 February 2020

The Bharathanatomy Series: Balance Part 1 - Postural Control - Sneha Rajagopalan - Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column

The Bharathanatomy series is back!

Over the next few months, we will be looking closely at the concept of balance and its role in movement and dance.

To be able to balance means that we are a) able to maintain an upright posture against the force of gravity and b) ensure that our body's centre of mass is exactly above our support base (in dance, this base of support is our feet).

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Friday, 21 February 2020

36th Kinkini Nrithyotsava - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

Kinkini institution was established in 1983 in Bangalore by N.R. Ganapathy and Yamuna Ganapathy to promote, propagate and popularize classical dances. They hold the position of the President and Secretary of the institution respectively. Among their children, their daughter Bharatanatyam exponent Rangashree has been very active since 1986 undertaking several activities relating to training young generation of dancers in Bharatanatyam and Yoga. She is the artistic director of Kinkini.

Kinkini has been organizing dance festivals in Bangalore for past 36 years featuring national level celebrated artists in tandem with young upcoming dancers. Kinkini has a branch in Kuwait, so Rangashree divides her time between Kuwait and Bangalore. Kinkini is the only institution which has been conferred with Karnataka Kalashree award for its distinctive services in 2014.

This year, Rangashree curated the festival presenting duets in different styles in the first half of the festival, followed by duets in Bharatanatyam. The five day festival from 25th till 29th January included Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathak, Kathakali and Mohiniattam in the first half and Bharatanatyam duets in the second half. I could attend the festival from 27th January for three days. The artists who participated on 25th were Kuchipudi Guru Jayarama Rao and his disciple T. Reddy Lakshmi from New Delhi, and in Bharatanatyam, Sathyanarayana Raju and Saundarya Srivatsa. I was told that on account of indisposed health of Saundarya, they presented solo numbers. On 26th Madhulita Mohapatra and Pankaj Kumar Pradhan presented Odissi followed by Vijna Vasudevan and Renjith Babu in Bharatanatyam.

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Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Profile - Manoj Kumar Das: The talented Khol player - Dr. Jintu Sarma

"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."
- Bob Marley

Manoj Kumar Das was born on 21st August 1990 to Nalini Kanta Das and Lakshi Das in a small village called Ghoramarahati in the Sattriya town Barpeta. He completed his schooling from Barpeta Govt. Higher Secondary School and graduated from M.C. College, Barpeta, both of which are notable institutions of the town. Inspired by his parents, he took a deep interest in Sattriya culture, especially Khol Vadya from his childhood. He took his first step towards formal music training from popular academic institution, Sankardev Kala Kshetra Barpeta, in 1999. He then trained in Khol Vadya under the tutelage of Shree Jagannath Bayan, the chief Bayan of Barpeta Satra and successfully mastered as Gunin in Khol Vadya.

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Friday, 14 February 2020

Obit/Tribute - Wendell Rodricks: A hard act to follow - Madhu Nataraj

I vividly recall how at our dear friends, the Puris' birthdays, anniversaries, even a prayer meeting, Wendell and I would be asked to speak. He would always go first and my opening line would be: "Now that's a hard act to follow!" Couldn't have meant it more now, than ever before...

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Music of the Spheres - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

It is not often that our classical dancers leave their beaten paths and refrain from executing the set routine of their forms but, rather, turn within and listen to their innermost hearts. This is akin to harking back to the ancient Greek notion - prevalent till the Renaissance --- that Sun, Moon and planets all emit their own unique celestial music physically inaudible to the human ear but, nonetheless, perceived by the sensitive soul. Is not the yearning for this ineffable Harmony of the Spheres echoed by PB Shelley while closing his 1821 ode to immanent love: The desire of the moth for the star / The night for the morrow / The devotion to something afar / From the sphere of our sorrow...?

Katha Angika presented on January 28 by Nandanik Movement of Arts attempted to turn on the above idea, namely, persuading a few seasoned classical dancers to listen to their inner calling. Nandanik is a collaborative venture between leading classical dancers and theatre practitioners, and explores annually such new themes, structures and forms in dance and theatre through the medium of story-telling and other means. As they elaborate, "Dance for us, is not just a series of movements which covers space with time aesthetically, it also has the power to connect mind with soul, connect a performer to a spectator without any restriction of language. Rasikas realise Katha with Angika through the dance presentation which make them a part of the performance and not mere spectators. Using the medium of dance as communication, we come together, to celebrate the festival - Katha Angika".

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Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Shraddhanjali: Nupur Zankar pays tribute to Pt Vijay Shankar - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

When you entered the Saradar Patel Sabhagraha Auditorium of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan at Andheri West in Mumbai on 26th January, you saw on the stage a large photograph of the gently smiling late Kathak exponent Pandit Vijay Shankar, a disciple of Pandit Birju Maharaj. On either side of the auditorium at strategic places were placed photos of, from Kolkata, Madhumita Roy, Sushmita Banerjee, Rama Prasad Chattopadhyaya and Sauvik Chakraborty, and of Asavari Pawar from Delhi. The photo of Shila Mehta, the organizer of the event, was also placed with them. She is from Kolkata and had studied under Vijay Shankar for many years.

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Monday, 10 February 2020

Prism - The Katha of Mudras-Asamyukta Hastamudras from the Natyashastra as seen in Kathak Parampara - Sunil Sunkara

While in the Natyashastra Chapter IX on Upangabhinaya, Bharata refers to the gestural language as hastas, the word mudra is seen in the Bharatarnava, a later work by Nandikeshvara. It is also seen as a part of tantra culture, whose communities were closely following the commentaries of the Natyashastra. Thus, we come across the joint word hasta-mudra that later came to be referred to colloquially as 'mudra'.

While looking at the history of Kathak, one can see its focus was towards drawing emotions from the daily life of people and creating connections with narratives from itihasa, which is what we perceive as a 'lokadharmi' approach. The kathavachaks or travelling bards were a medium of mass communication. The stories they weaved drew on lessons from itihasa like Mahabharata or Ramayana. Abhinavagupta and Bhatta Nayaka, 10th CE, speak of Saadharanikarana - art enabling the viewer to live the emotions, thus a tool for thought inception. The Communicator (the Kathak dancer) and The Subject (the audience) are bound through The Objective (the creation of the rasa). The use of mudras requires the subject audience to understand the meaning or signature behind usage of the mudras. This knowledge was to be found mostly among the elite post the 18th CE, making it a necessity for the kathiks to start using as 'close to life' depictions as possible. In the 20th CE, the reformation and revival in Kathak, especially with the advent of government supported institutions led to recreation of both the knowledgeable sahhridayi audience as well as an expansion in the 'vastukram' or repertoire of Kathak to bring to the fore once again a dance laced with the implied beauty of meanings through Kathak adorned by various mudras.

This article looks at the various Asamyukta hastas mentioned in the Natyashastra, attempting also to connect with their current popular usage in Kathak. A valuable reference has been the in-depth analysis on mudras done by Dr. Vibha Dadheech, Bharatiya Nritya Ki Varnamala Hasta-Mudrayen.

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Saturday, 8 February 2020

Book Review - Naṭyayana: Book of philosophical maturity to dance - Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh

'Naṭyayana - A Journey of Dance from Bhāva to Rasa'
Authored by Dr. Shobha Shashikumar
Published by Noopura Bhramari, January 2020
Pages: 300
Price: Rs. 475

The book was released on 17th January 2020 at a national level conference on Performing Arts, at Jain University Campus, Bengaluru.

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Thursday, 6 February 2020

Fourth edition of Navvarsh Dance Festival - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

Under the aegis of Saraswati Educational Cultural and Charitable Trust and Sri Ganapathi Seva Samiti Temple, Bengaluru, at the temple venue a two day classical dance festival Navvarsh Mahotsav was organized featuring Mohiniattam, Odissi and Sattriya dances on 18th January and Bharatanatyam, Kathakali and Kuchipudi on 19th January. This year, the trustees honoured Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan, Kathakali Guru FACT Padmanabhan and Guru Rangashree Srinivasan.

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First Steps - Choreographing between two worlds - India and the United States: Column by Janaki Patrik

I didn't set out to be a choreographer. I would have been happy if someone else made dances for me. But that just didn't happen. When I returned to Chicago in 1969 after my initial training at Kathak Kendra, there was no ready-made niche waiting for me to fill. Very few people even knew what classical Indian dance looked like. If I tried to describe Kathak, people would rotate their hips and waggle their heads, saying, "Oh, like belly dance . . . . ?" I performed in the Indian student organizations at the University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology and Northwestern University. But I was limited to giving lecture-demonstrations accompanied by music on two reels which Maharaj-ji and musicians had recorded at the Sangeet Natak studios in 1969. The same recorded music - time-after-time.

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Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Promising youngsters in Music Academy's endowment program - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

K. Chandrasekharan (1904-1988) could be called a renaissance man, with many talents. An avid Sanskrit scholar, for years Secretary and Trustee for the Madras Sanskrit College and Ayurvedic College and Dispensary, Secretary of Kuppuswamy Research Institute, Vice President of the Music Academy and Member Vice-President of Kalakshetra, he was a prolific writer in English and Tamil, Tagore professor of Humanities, a sensitive portraitist in miniature and above all an ardent rasika of dance and music. It was in the thirties that under the banner of Sahridaya, he started providing a platform for young artists. And very correctly the annual endowment programme Bharatanatya Manjari presented by the Music Academy in his memory presents well selected young dancers, many of whom have become part of the Academy's major dance festival today. This year's Bharatanatya Manjari presented two young dancers, Yogesh Kumar followed by Shreema Upadhyaya, coincidentally both from Bangalore.

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Saturday, 1 February 2020

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - February 2020

Anita says...February 2020

Before I begin to express battle fatigue at the never ending dance season in Chennai and elsewhere in India, let me wish the 4 PADMA SRI dance awardees all best wishes for the honour bestowed upon them by the Government of India - - Shashadhar Acharya (Chhau), Indira PP Bora (Sattriya), Vajira Chitrasena (Kandyan dance, Srilanka) and Purushottam Dadheech (Kathak).

Significantly, there were no awards for Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, Kuchipudi and Manipuri. The bulk of the awards went to unsung heroes who have worked silently and tirelessly in their social and medical spheres. However, the special delight was to see the name of 85 year old matriarch of Kandyan dance, VAJIRA CHITRASENA in the honour roll. I have watched VAJIRA play the drum almost daily at the evening dance classes in Colombo. Such energy, dedication and passion are rare qualities and it is a wonderful gesture to honour great artistes from our neighbouring countries. Ramli Ibrahim was also a PADMA SRI recipient two years ago.

So, to all those dancers who were busy rushing to Delhi, brown nosing political scavengers and wearing orange in their costumes to curry favour - here is a piece of advice. Dance well. Dance brilliantly. Focus on excellence and minimise the IN YOUR FACE PR campaigns. Or perhaps, one needs both these days, but mere PR has to work doubly harder to camouflage mediocrity!

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Thursday, 30 January 2020

Drishti Art Centre's Bharata Nritya Vaibhava

Drishti Art Centre was established in 2001 by Bharatanatyam exponent Anuradha Vikranth at Sahakar Nagar, Bengaluru to offer holistic training in Bharatanatyam. She has nearly 400 students taking training in the classical dance form. As a centre imparting training in dance, it has received the National Excellence Award 2019 by the National Press Council of India Newspapers Association of Karnataka. The Drishti Art Centre also offers training in yoga and music. They arrange a biennale event titled Nrityarpana.

The Drishti National Dance Festival is an annual event which Bengaluru rasikas look forward to attending. With a commendable background and experience of more than two decades, the present 15th National Dance Festival titled Bharata Nritya Vaibhava curated by Anuradha Vikranth featuring 15 dance styles, held on 11th January at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, was a spectacular event.

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Monday, 27 January 2020

14th Edition of the Music Academy Dance Festival-The marathon sessions - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

Hot on the heels of the 39th Natya Kala Conference came the 14th edition of The Music Academy's dance festival from 3rd till 9th January 2020 at their spacious and well equipped auditorium with light and sound system. This year's festival had added features: one more slot at 2pm for dancers. There were three interactive sessions with three dancers on three days from 4pm till 5.30pm at one of the committee rooms, where participants were served coffee on the house. Prior registration was arranged and slips were required to be dropped in a box. Those whose slips were selected could attend the session for dialogue with the dancers.

There were panel discussions on three mornings from 8.30am till 10am, followed by 10am and 11. 30am slots for dance. After lunch, the new 2pm slot made it quite taxing and also exhausting! Whatever may be the reason that Academy has planned this additional slot, whereby 6 more dancers could be accommodated, they will have to rethink the timing in order for public to attend the post lunch performance. The evening sessions from 6pm to 7.30pm and 7.45pm till 9.15pm were ticketed as usual whereas all other sessions are free for the public.

This festival has acquired reputation for featuring the best of the classical dancers. Therefore die-hard followers plan to attend well in advance. Some of us ventured to attend all sessions. No wonder, when I am trying to review the performances which I saw during the seven days, I am dead exhausted and my mind is full of overlapping images of endless varnams, padams, tillanas and what have you. The saturation point naturally starts working upon onlookers.

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A for.... - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

A for art, aesthetics, A grade. And in Bharatanatyam it is Alarmel Valli. That's the real A list. And what a mature, meaningful opening to the New Year's season it was at Music Academy Dance Festival....

B for bad scheduling....

C for can you spot the difference between potential and possibility?...

D for diva Dr. Kanak Rele...

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Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Of dancing gene and Varnam mime - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Did man's not-too-distant animal forefathers have a sense of rhythm and like to dance to music? It would certainly seem so, as the latest research at Kyoto University suggests, from their experiments with seven chimpanzees who, incidentally, have as many as 93 per cent (perhaps more) of genes in common with their human progeny. Although none of the primates had been taught to groove and received any rewards for doing so, they still broke out into spontaneous movement -- by clapping hands, tapping feet and swaying along - when played bursts of tunes on piano!

The consummate way in which both nritya and nritta of Indian classical dances are linked to the geetam and vadyam of the land, appears to recognize this heritage, in being beautifully integrated in their conceptualizations and aesthetics, as well as in their manifestation, as it struck this critic once again, while watching some of the recent dance performances in the eastern metropolis.

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Article - Bhamakalapam: The quintessence of Kuchipudi - Dr. Tadepalli

(Translated from the original Telugu into English by Sreelakshmi)

The one work of literature that effectively brings home the quintessence of Kuchipudi is the iconic Bhamakalapam. In the vast and powerful repository of Telugu literature, this is the very first drsya prabhandha kavya (visual poetic treatise) composed, a gem of undying brilliance in its diadem.

On the 9th of January 2020, one witnessed the presentation of Bhamakalapam under the aegis of Sri Sai Nataraja Academy of Kuchipudi dance. Organized in the Ravindra Bharati auditorium, Hyderabad, the role of Satyabhama was played by Dr. Rama Devi (Director, Sri Sai Nataraja Academy of Kuchipudi dance). The rest of the cast included Rajeshwari (student of Dr. Rama Devi and currently pursuing MA in Telugu University) as Krishna and the role of the sutradhara (narrator) was donned by Dr. Pasumarthi Seshubabu. The program was well supported by a capable orchestra.

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Sunday, 19 January 2020

Kalavaahini's Margazhi offer of 'Dance for Dance' - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Initiated in 2013, Malavika Sarukkai's Kalavaahini Trust in its effort at positive and successful support for dance, which represents a critical part of India's cultural heritage, has worked at creating a platform for art which has excellence as its guiding principle, which motto extends to the organisational effort to ensuring hassle- free conditions for the artiste so as to enable the best contribution.

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Profile - Srivatsa Shandilya: Multiple images frames is like a painting - Sangeeta Cavale

Bangalore based Srivatsa Shandilya has been a performing arts photographer for almost 35 years. With an Engineering in computer science background, he worked in the technology media space as a photographer and was instrumental in showcasing the Indian IT growth. From 1995, he was a photographer for a technology magazine. The ever versatile Srivatsa is also a well known glamour and fashion photographer. He has clicked virtually all cine stars of the Kannada film industry and several of these images have been published in leading newspapers like the Times of India.

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Saturday, 18 January 2020

Commendable recitals - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

Anita Ratnam in association with Brahma Gana Sabha presented her A List Series featuring three artists - Shanmuga Sundaram, Indira Kadambi and Mansavini Ramachandran - on January 2, 2020 in Chennai. In an attempt to create among fellow artists and public, awareness to support artistes by making it a paid program, the series received good response.

Currently under mentorship of Chitra Visweswaran, Shanmugham is developing finer and subtle nuances of Vazhuvoor bani. He has been performing for past twenty years and has a sound grounding in the said bani under the legendary K.J. Sarasa. For the evening he had carefully selected from Shaiva and Vaishnava repertoire in Tamizh, choreographed by K.J. Sarasa. This was re-visited and re-edited by Chitra. It comprised of two Theva Padhigams - Kunitha Puruvamum of Thirunavukkarasar. It was followed by Thodudaiya Saviyan of Thirugnana Sambandar in raga Gambeera Nattai and adi tala.

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Friday, 17 January 2020

Interview - Sandeep Dutta: Dancers should attend workshops on lights - Shveta Arora

We begin from the end of the performance, after the audience is moving out, when you see the lights being dismantled, the wires being wound and all the equipment being taken apart. And in the middle of this, you see this inconspicuous person who's directing the entire thing, and all that you have seen of him is when he comes on stage at the end for the credits. It is then that you realize how the special effects in the performance were brought out using the lights, how the dancer's emotions in her solo were so wonderfully clear to you, how the spotlight followed the dancer and the colours of the lights changed with the hues of the rasas.

Lights designer Sandeep Dutta is one of the most well-known names in Delhi's cultural circles. He has worked on shows for some of the eminent dancers and musicians, both those from Delhi and those performing in Delhi. Light design is integral to creating the right mood and atmosphere in a performance. My photographer husband and I interviewed Sandeep Dutta to find out how he designs the lights for different productions, the challenges for light design in the Indian scenario, and the prospects in the profession.

How did you get started in the profession?
We came to Delhi in 1986 from UP. My father was a doctor and we had a house in Delhi, so when he retired, we shifted to Delhi. After schooling, I did Electronics from IETE. I was looking for something constructive at that time. Fortunately, I met Gautam Bhattacharya, who became my guru and mentor. We stayed in the same colony and would meet often. He suggested taking up light designing as a career. But at that time, my parents had not heard of light designing. So initially, my father refused.

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Monday, 13 January 2020

Nirikshana: Natya Kala Conference marks its 39th year of celebration-2

Alarippu Adventures was an exciting session offering an excellent example of youngsters pushing the creative envelope with discoveries, egged on by their unbound curiosity. And they have found an excellent fellow traveller in Ramamoorthy Ganesh, the mridangist, who provided the ideal rhythmic arithmetical springboard. The Alarippu has within its rhythmic frame the versatility of accommodating different ideas in different nadais and talas, with a few like the Mayur Alarippu already known. Preeti Ramaprasad made it the Navarasa Alarippu, with the nine emotions. Christopher Guruswamy's Misrajati chemba talam Alarippu was based on Garuda, the choreography influenced by what he saw in the Ram Gopal Dance Museum in Indonesia and Rukmini Devi's Jatayu Moksham in the Ramayana Series. The ' Dhit Tam' with the eyes of the Garuda looking hither and thither and the arms in a wide wing spread were very fitting. Harinie Jeevitha's Nritta Keli wherein she showed different games in Alarippu in chatusrajati dhruva talam, was another fine effort. Radhe Jaggi in a khanda jati Alarippu drew the outlines of a temple with entrance, gopuram and sannadhi. It is the working of the various minds which was very invigorating to behold!

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Nirikshana: Natya Kala Conference marks its 39th year of celebration-1

The 'pay for the Arts' drive of the convenor Rama Vaidyanathan and Aalaap, the creative collaborator, would seem to have fetched handsome results, for rarely has Krishna Gana Sabha's annual Natya Kala Conference (Dec 26-30, 2019) attracted the kind of 'sold out' auditorium experienced this year, with literally every seat occupied, notwithstanding an entry ticket for being part of each day's proceedings. O.S. Arun's dramatic entry from the auditorium to the stage singing the Ranga Stuti of the Abhinaya Darpana, heralded the start, with the welcome address by Shashwati Prabhu nostalgically recalling how the start of the Conference as an educative and interactive experience had begun in 1974 with Padma Subrahmanyam being conferred the Nritya Choodamani. This year's conference with Dr. Sonal Mansingh, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha as Chief guest, the award of 'Natya Kala Visharada ha' was conferred on Ranganayaki Jayaraman for her selfless teaching of Bharatanatyam, particularly among the under privileged sections of society.

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Sunday, 12 January 2020

Book Review - Sonorous Tunes and Swaying Torsos - Dr. Utpal K Banerjee

Folk Traditions of Northeast India
By Biren Baruah and Suman Swaragi
Shubhi Publications
479, Sector 14, Gurugram-122 001, Haryana
ISBN: 9788182903074
Price Rs. 1495

"The Seven Sisters" of the North-East India (comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and the large state of Assam), plus the native kingdom of Sikkim added in 1975- with their low-lying Khasi, Jaintia, Lushai, Garo and Naga Hills, and the sprawling Barrack and Brahmaputra Valleys - offer an undulating physical topography. This beauteous landscape offers a human settlement that dates back to the Austro-Asiatic languages, followed by Tibeto-Burmese population and then the Indo-Aryan speakers from the Gangetic plains, half a millennium before Christ.

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Sunday, 5 January 2020

Laying the foundation - Choreographing between two worlds - India and the United States: Column by Janaki Patrik

Life can change in a split second. Mine certainly did. I was studying Russian language and literature, preparing for a career in academia or international politics. But after seeing Birju Maharaj dance in 1963, I made an about-face. At that time he was called "Maharaj-ji" by all. The honorific "Pandit-ji" came later. Yet there was never a question in my mind, that whatever he was called, Maharaj-ji was a charismatic performer and compelling communicator, and I would study Kathak with him.

Trained in Western flute and piano for thirteen years starting at age five, I had been entranced by the musicality of a few lines of poetry composed by the 19th century Russian writer Pushkin. The subject was love, of course. Ya vas lyubul... "I loved you and perhaps this love has not yet died..." The sound of the words, the musicality of a language whose verb and noun endings could create unforced rhymes, the still-living tradition of memorizing and reciting poetry as a natural extension of human speech - I loved it all.

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Saturday, 4 January 2020

Dissecting society's underbelly - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

A time was when the joint family system in Indian society took care of the elders of the family, there being always some siblings who would take care of the aged parents. After the nuclear family emerged in the society's industrial and post-industrial phases, the children, after receiving childhood education, necessarily drifted apart from their parents to settle in the new places of employment, leaving the elders severely alone. In metropolises like Kolkata, there are innumerable cases where the children either earn their livelihood at faraway places like Bangalore or have moved abroad, giving rise to a severe social problem: that of urban loneliness.

One solution to this malady has been a chain of usually ill-kept "old age homes" where the deserted parents would move to live in a brand new habitat, enlivened by generally rare social visits by the now estranged siblings at their own convenience. In cases where parents - normally with strong willpower - stuck to continue in their own homes, the siblings would not hesitate to milk them if they have any marginal utility left still. Alternatively, the new-age "promoters" would hover round them almost like vultures and attempt uprooting them, to grab the property for raising multi-storied structures. The ace director Sima Mukhopadhyay has looked at some of these vulnerable situations with great empathy and gifted the Kolkata viewers two 'clinical' studies done with an unerring scalpel.

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If it is December, it must be Chennai - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

Come December and some of us from the Capital plan well in advance to move to Chennai for the 'season' now extending from December to January and at times further extending to February also. Of late, the main reasons are also to escape the Delhi winter with extreme cold and pollution. Chennai weather is far better than what we suffer at Delhi. And it also extends to February. The city is all abuzz with music and whatsApp is bombarded with announcements of several performances, enthusiastic dancers post videos and clog our cell phones. The incessant postings tire one's patience. Social media has become an easy tool for advertisement, though, in a way, it helps one to select in advance what one would like to see and attend!

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Thursday, 2 January 2020

Naachiyar Next - A delectable breath of fresh air - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Anita Ratnam has called her work 'Naachiyar Next,' an amplification and reworked version of what she first presented in 2003 under Arangham Trust. Not having seen the earlier production, one can only comment on what was premiered as a changed version of the original, by a now more experienced choreographer, at the Krishna Gana Sabha, as elegant and refreshingly different from what one is normally treated to - amidst countless dance works woven round the theme of Nachiyar /Goda and Andal's Tiruppavai. As a strong voice of feminism over a thousand years old, Andal's appeal has not dimmed with time. Anita's lifelong fascination for Andal and what she represents has made her revisit for expression, the subject of her life and poetry over and over again- the latest being an hour and a quarter of enthralling dance theatre which communicates across regional and cultural frontiers

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Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - January 2020

Anita says...January 2020

Love one another but
Make not a bond of love
Let it rather be a moving sea
Between the shores
Of your souls
- Kahlil Gibran, poet

Welcome to a brand NEW YEAR and the start of a NEW DECADE !

The last month of the year brought such a whirlwind of contrasting experiences that I am still breathless from the tsunami of visuals and sounds that have hit me for the past 31 days.

From devout crowds at my ancestral temple, to an urban library where John Lennon met Andal; from being spellbound by a flute next to the ocean to eyes moistening as I watched a mother sing baby Krishna to sleep while narrating the Ramayana - this has been an overwhelming month for me.
As patron, presenter, producer, performer, speaker, writer, host and single parent- all the while maintaining a calm demeanour - HAS NOT BEEN EASY.

Amidst the chaos of daily protests and arrests across India due to the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) a month of singing and dancing seemed at odds with the reality of our daily lives. But then the Chennai Margazhi season chugs on...

And just in case you were thinking that ALL roads lead to Chennai in December, there is slight modification. Only certain parts of Chennai celebrate MARGAZHI. Go beyond Gemini Circle to areas like Nungambakkam and Kilpauk and you will be asked, "What is happening? What Season?"

This online dance portal began at the dawn of the millennium and it is already in its 3rd decade!
And how much our dance lives have changed!
And the most evident indicator has been the recently concluded NATYA KALA CONFERENCE at Krishna Gana Sabha.

Read on...