Tuesday 10 March 2020

Looking anew at the dance scene - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee"

From time to time, a seer or a visionary has looked afresh at classical dance - not quizzically or with derision - but with a vision to set fresh goals, chalk out new paths, or point out novel directions to take, collaborations to make, charters to seek. So, when a distinguished dancer and choreographer like Malavika Sarukkai sets up a trust like 'Kalavaahini' with the purpose of "fostering excellence in classical dance and the critical heritage of the land it represents", and sets up one of its objectives as "identifying and nurturing committed dancers of the next generation who differentiate themselves and work towards raising standards in dance presentation so that the Trust could aim at keeping the intrinsic flow of tradition, vibrant and salient and also give wider exposure to the participating dancers", one has to sit up and take notice.

Similarly, when a performer / teacher par excellence, and a distinguished public persona like Dr. Sonal Mansingh comes for holding a four-day workshop "not only to teach about the gradations in dance, but also dwell upon the finer nuances of the art and lead the participants into her famed choreography, Sunaina, which refers to a woman's beautiful eyes, analogies of which are drawn from Odiya and Sanskrit poetry," one stands to hugely benefit from the aesthetic effort. In addition, when this is accompanied by a heart-searching by a veteran dancer like Sutapa Talukdar, "Today's generation lacks the knowledge of what makes good dance. The soul of dance seems to be missing. There is an essential difference between dance and movement. Not all movement is dance. This knowledge is lost from the consciousness of the learners. Therefore, as artists, they are flawed. It is imperative that the younger generation understand nuances of what makes a good artist. And who better to teach that than the artist who is a living, breathing example of what a true artist is!" And when the effort is buttressed by Sonal's path-breaking innovation like Natya Katha, one cannot but stand to gain a revealing insight into arts as a whole from her synoptic vision.

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