Thursday 30 April 2020

Article - Ruminations during lockdown #PandemicPonderings (Part 2) - Dr. Anita Ratnam

With the current pandemic sweeping our globe and with our lives forever changed in the foreseeable future, artistes share about how the month of March/April was for them. What they did that was different... what new hobbies they have started...

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Wednesday 29 April 2020

Article - Ruminations during lockdown #PandemicPonderings (Part 1) - Dr. Anita Ratnam

With the current pandemic sweeping our globe and with our lives forever changed in the foreseeable future, artistes share about how the month of March/April was for them. What they did that was different… what new hobbies they have started...

Read in the site

Article - Pandemic notes - Dr. Srinidhi Chidambaram

I have often been questioned how it feels pursuing two very different professions - healthcare and performing Bharatanatyam - both having a steady parallel trajectory all these years in my life. The COVID-19 pandemic has for the first time, made me feel a deep sense of gratitude that I have these professions in my life, ensuring that no day remains unproductive, predictable and boring.

I am a Public Health medical postgraduate but my work at Apollo Hospitals spans many dimensions. I don't directly treat patients but with data, outcomes and communication. My work in health communication and my participation in our extensive online initiatives and our Project Kavach give me a great feeling of contributing what I can to help people. Of course, if the outbreak grows larger (which I pray won't happen), I will be there in the front line helping in whatever way I can with my medical training.

My other great passion Bharatanatyam helps me keep fit and energised. It is absolutely fabulous to dance without a performance angle (Though I do have Insta performances lined up!). I have pulled out videos and audio tapes of my performances when I was in my teens and twenties. Dancing to my Guru Swamimalai S K Rajarathnam's haunting music and jathis is wonderful. Zesty Vazhuvoor jathis and swaras at high speed is more than enough to test stamina and endurance after so many years have gone by! I am also practising dancing to the adavus in slow speeds to gain better form. With all of us house bound, it is precious time as my husband shuttles between the parliamentary constituency and Delhi, while my daughter studies at Cambridge University.

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Monday 27 April 2020

North Indian Kathak and American Tap: KA-TAP: Column by Janaki Patrik

Tatkar and Tap. In my mind the combination was a no-brainer.

By the time I hit my 20th anniversary as a Kathak dancer, I had thought about the similarity of Kathak tatkar and Tap dance steps for almost as many years. The opportunity to create a Kathak-Tap duet presented itself at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where I was an artist-in-residence from January through March 1990.

In conversations with Michael Simms, the ballet teacher in Stephens College's Dance Department, I learned that he had been a "hoofer" - a slang term for tap dancer. Michael somewhat reluctantly agreed to bring his tap shoes out of the back of his closet, but once we got into the studio, he enthusiastically joined in our "foot play". We decided to perform a duet to conclude my Kathak demonstration for the Dance Department's Spring concert. We chose an American standard composed in 1930, entitled "On the Sunny Side of the Street".

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I for...Indian dance in times of Covid-19 - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

I for innovate. The post-Corona lockdown made many dancers think anew and some came up with innovative ideas to keep busy meaningfully and reach out. Karona became karo-na! (Please do)!

Hyderabad's ASJ - that's the ever smiling Joy as in Ananda, Shankar as in Shiva and Jayant as in her best half, who posted cartoons sketches drawn by Vishnu Amaresan and designed by budding talents.

Bangalore's Lourd Vijay and Attakkalari offered virtual classes, the former even at a discount, which kept many on their toes. Bangalore learnt to keep its cool, no playing the fool on internet just to remain relevant or visible. Most frequent travelers were grounded and rested at home.

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Saturday 25 April 2020

With "a lover's smile": Strengthening resolve in the times of Corona - Soch: Column by Dr. Arshiya Sethi

I am a news junkie. That is a genuine confession. I push sleep to look at the news-apps on my phone, just one more time. Recently, my two addictions, news and dance, went on to imbricate. Watching news reports and social media entries pertaining to the clouds cast by the Corona virus, I encountered, somewhat unexpectedly, a dance story on the popular news site, Lallantop. It came as a complete surprise. In the age of diyas, candles and torches, this was a genuine ray of light. Based on Kuldeep Mishra's Hindi poem, recited by him too, NCR based Kathak dancer Mrinalini, who prefers to go only with one name, a twenty-six year old data scientist working at an analytics firm, did an impromptu five minute performance, in what looks like the corridor of an apartment block, possibly her apartment block, since we are in a lockdown.

It took Mrinalini exactly an hour to come up with this choreography, after her mother introduced her to the poem. Like all young, digitally savvy people, quick fingered at making videos and sharing them on various interactive platforms, Mrinalini too posted a recording of it on the photo and video sharing platform, Instagram. While the poetry, when she heard it, may have touched a chord in her, leading her to do this choreography, and maybe her only purpose in making it was to find escape in dance during this time, her artistry apparently touched a chord in several thousand hearts and became a viral hit, collecting over 35000 views. Its hashtag #zarakathakcorona was gripping enough, and its message "India fights Corona" short, sweet and punchy! The comments were encouraging, with people liking it as something different, finding hope in it, and referring to it as the best thing they had seen in this period of quarantine. You can see the choreography here

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Friday 24 April 2020

Article - Identity and Aesthetics - V. Kaladharan

The coexistence of several highly evolved dance and theatre traditions in Kerala has problematized the concept of identity of each form especially with the incredible outreach of Kathakali in the last century. Did Kathakali, an eclectic dance-drama, exert influence on Kutiyattam, Krishnanattam, Mohiniyattam and Thullal? While intransigent connoisseurs came down heavily upon the Kutiyattam artists of Kerala Kalamandalam in the late 1980's for diluting the identity of this Sanskrit theatre tradition by borrowing elements from Kathakali, eminent playwright and theatre-director, the late Kavalam Narayana Panicker derided the reformations in the vocal music of Krishnanattam (dancing the life-story of Lord Krishna that has for long been confined to the Guruvayoor temple) along the lines of Kathakali vocal music.

Against the above background, I had a prolonged interview with the legendary Kutiyattam actor, the late Ammannoor Madhava Chakyar, at his residence, for AIR, Thrissur. In the course of our conversation, I asked him the reason why he insisted that the young Kutiyattam practitioners keep themselves away from Kathakali. Chakyar replied, "This is a piece of advice handed down to me by my immediate ancestors. By incessantly or occasionally watching Kathakali, a relatively more popular performance tradition, a student of Kutiyattam is most likely to be influenced by its techniques. He/she may if so unintentionally alter the identity of Kutiyattam." Chakyar was undoubtedly voicing his concerns about the task of protecting the identity of Kutiyattam while it could be made applicable to all the solid art forms categorized by the term 'classical'.

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Sunday 19 April 2020

Article - Together in the war against Corona - Ratikant Mohapatra

With every passing day, the Corona Virus has brought in major changes and forced many adjustments in our lives. In the new normal, artistes - especially performing artistes - have been very badly hit. In comparison, other professionals are somehow managing their lives. Vegetables, fruits, and a variety of food stuff are being sold; some companies are getting their work done 'online' by their employees from home. The plight of performing artistes is however terribly poignant. We are unable to leave our houses, no colleagues - professional musicians, dancers, and other technicians like light designers, and recording professionals - have been available to us for a month and god knows for how much longer we will have to bear this privation! So I have been thinking hard on how best to use this difficult incarceration, and keep the mood a little upbeat of those around me. Indeed, the whole world is in great stress and the agony of individuals is being communicated to large number of people through telephone calls, video calls and other communication devices. It is a great consolation that so far our normal communication channels are still available to us - and the dreadful Corona Virus has not been able to affect our exchange of creative ideas and nominal information.

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Friday 17 April 2020

Article - Comparative study of traditional presentations and thematic presentations - Niyati Visal

(First prize winner in junior group of the Nrutya Shabda Essay Writing Competition, 2019-20 organized by Samvaad Blog of Swarada Dhekane and Loud Applause E-Magazine of Neha Muthiyan)

Art is a tool of expression, a product of humankind's intellectual and emotional evolution. The purpose of a particular art form dictates the course it takes over history. Among the various arts, classical dancing has experienced a tumultuous journey - from being equated with glamour and glory to being considered disreputable and inappropriate. Irrespective of the status dance holds in the society, it takes shape in the space society allows it to exist in.

In the context of Indian classical dance, religion has been a driving force for the development dance. Most of the dances began as part of the devadasi tradition. Devadasis (or maharis in Odisha) danced in temples to please the gods and subsequently danced in courts for the kings and patrons. Dances like Sattriya and Manipuri gained ground with the Bhakti movement between the 15th and 17th centuries. In the case of Kathakali and Kuchipudi, the purpose of these dance-drama traditions was to enlighten the common people on the various instances in Hindu mythology.

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Thursday 16 April 2020

Does Corona compel us to think about a revival package for the arts? - Soch: Column by Dr. Arshiya Sethi

This is a topical and timely column. It comes in the series of Dance in the times of Corona. I share these thoughts, this 'Soch', with you, but address it to the policy makers who are working on a promised relief package for India, in the COVID 19 scenario. I hope they will not get bogged down by a one dimensional or myopic vision for the recovery of India, but will keep their ear to the ground, to hear the subterranean murmurs from various groups.

From dancers around the world, I am hearing a murmur. A murmur of anxiety. This murmur of anxiety is emanating from my friends, mostly from the world of the arts, artistes of all domains and hues, especially dancers, who are so special since they are the makers of the most intangible and chimerical art. Like the rest of the nation they too are anxious about what the future holds. It is like we fell asleep in one world and woke up in another. And we still don't know how different will be the world we closed our doors on, from the one we will open them to, after the lockdown is over. Nothing, as we wait out the health emergency and the clouds of the pandemic, seems to give any hope.

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Saturday 11 April 2020

Article - The solitude has been bringing out the best in us - Dr S.D. Desai

I am grateful to Dr. Parul Shah (Vadodara) to have forwarded the image to me. A lady pulled her car over and offered biscuits and bottles of water to the family with four kids. Santushti, the woman in the family, smiled and said, Hai (We have). Good Time, the man behind, smiled too and said: Kafi hai, didi, kisi aur ko de dena (We have, sister, please give to someone else). Surprising. The two seemed to have all their belongings on their heads - and their kids by their side. Both and the eldest kid wore smiles of contentedness.

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Friday 10 April 2020

Both acerbic and cathartic - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Bertolt Brecht and Luigi Pirandello have been two major phenomena in the European theatre-scape. Set poles away from the Greek narrative structure and neatly demarcating tragedies from comedies - not much deviated from, by the Shakespearean oeuvre in the form and treatment -- both Brecht and Pirandello have been bent into unraveling the society's underbelly and exposing the ills and the misbegotten. Both these playwrights are darlings of the eastern metropolitan spectators and are showcased with loving care to its theatre cognoscente from time to time.

In the two plays under review, while Brecht cocks a snook at the warped society of his time and launches a virulent "Theatre of Protest" on his own, Pirandello delves into a shimmering, psychedelic world and is indeed on the same plane as Jean Genet and Samuel Becket, hovering close to "Theatre of the Absurd" that materialized only in the subsequent century.

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Thursday 9 April 2020

Obit/Tribute - Farewell Beppe Chierichetti - Ashish Mohan Khokar

In these times when we are so troubled anyway, the loss of dear Beppe is a final blow to many of us. He was the spine and spirit of TTB (Teatro Tascabile di Bergamo). He gave his lifetime to art, theatre and India.

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Wednesday 8 April 2020

90th year celebrations of legendary Vidooshaka P.K.G Nambiar - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

On 1st March, at Ottapalam, P.K.G. Nambiar, the celebrated Koodiyattam artiste renowned for his role of Vidooshaka, was felicitated on his 90th birthday. Son of the legendary Koodiyattam maestro Mani Madhava Chakyar, he has played an important role in bringing Koodiyattam beyond borders of Kerala, close to North India and elsewhere, with his chaste Hindi commentary in the role of a Vidooshaka.

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Tuesday 7 April 2020

Article - 'Pay to perform' vs 'Paid to perform' - VP Dhananjayan

'ART FOR ART SAKE' is a bygone slogan when all art activities were patronised by kings and feudal societies. Gone are the days when all kinds of art practitioners think of their art profession as their livelihood. All genuine artistes dedicated themselves in pursuit of perfecting their god given talent, be it sangeetam, natyam, crafts, painting, sculpting, weaving and such art forms. Art activities flourished, so we have now so many wonderful art forms to stride on and make them a career for livelihood. Though our ancestors may not have left material riches, they left rich heritage of various art forms for us to choose and not only make a livelihood but also accumulate riches.

The art world has been changing rapidly especially the performing arts like Bharatanatyam. Scenario is alarmingly exploding where the theory of demand and supply is concerned. Talent is in abundance unlike in olden days. All talents have to be exhibited and opportunities have to be created irrespective of criterion, caliber and credibility. Ample opportunities are booming in the performing art field, but main drawback is lack of funds. Because of the surfeit of talented artistes in different forms of Bhaarateeya Naatyam and Sangeetham traditions and not giving it a professional status even by our Government, professionals are not getting their due recognition and adequate remuneration. Of course, some are lucky and some are not, especially in the field of Bharatanatyam.

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Monday 6 April 2020

Dance 'Caro-Na': Can we dance in the times of Corona? - Soch: Column by Dr. Arshiya Sethi

I saw a series of videos about what happened on 22nd March at 5 pm across several towns of India, and was not happy to see that after a day of Janata Curfew, things went out of hand. Instead of encouraging and acknowledging the work of corona warriors like medical staff, people had read the five o clock call to "taali and thaali" to be a festive assertion of community. That is why it saw many people standing together, in close proximity with scant regard to the idea of social distancing. The images even caught a policeman, who should have known better, blowing a conch shell- a conch shell for the love of God, that need to be blown outwards creating thereby, pathways for oral secretions to be blown out. In other videos, I saw dancing of all types, as if there was something to celebrate. No, my dear, there is nothing to celebrate just yet. In fact there is much to be worried about at this stage. I realised within an hour or two after 5pm, that after what appeared by all news accounts to be a good start to social distancing and a voluntary home bound curfew, we had messed it up by abandoning all the good sense shown, at 5pm. I needed no further proof of the fact that as a community we had not understood the gravity of this public health crisis that is facing us.

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Wednesday 1 April 2020

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - April 2020

Anita says...April 2020

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
Like an ever spinning wheel

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone

Like a door that keep revolving
In a half forgotten dream

Pictures hanging in a hallway
Like fragments of a song

And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

- Theme song from the film THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR

The freewheeling lyrics of this 1968 Oscar winning song has been stuck in my head for the past few days. Contrasting images, opposing words, a conundrum that seems endless without a clear denouement.

Despite my smiling face at the top of this editorial, there is NOTHING to smile about.
It has been a bewildering month and a devastating month. This COVID-19/CORONA pandemic that has upturned our lives, dashed our plans and slashed our existence is going to change the way we live and see the world forever. Who knew that a virus from one country, one city could infect and affect so many lives across the planet!