Sunday 29 November 2020

Obit/Tribute - Yog Sunder Desai (1921-2020) - Ashish Mohan Khokar

Delhi: He got up on 27th November morning, asked for juice, sipped it quietly and was gone. What a way to go! For a man almost a century, who saw India from times of pre revival to calling his group Indian Revival Group; meeting pioneers who came to India from abroad like Ted Shawn or Ragini Devi, to learning from a pioneer like Uday Shankar and Kelu Nair; from seeing his royal family in Gujarat surrender all land and titles to cause of India's independence to seeing India get independence in 1947 - he saw all and created dance drama productions based on many such themes.

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Sunday 22 November 2020

Virtual, with visual variety - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Trained by Mamata Shankar in Uday Shankar style and also interested in Western ballet and jazz, Subhajit brilliantly sets off the online series with his solo Jatajuta Samayuktam ( featured earlier in 'Devi Diaries' series hosted by Known as the Dhyan Mantra of Durga from Matsya Purana, Jatajuta Samayuktam describes the physical attributes of the goddess: how extraordinarily glamorous she is, what is her complexion like and what accoutrement she has put on. The picturesque locale -- an ancient site of 26 Shiva temples in Khardah, West Bengal crafted in the classic Bengali architecture - comes alive in the dancer's controlled postures and especially in the skillful 'slow motion' camera shots.

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Saturday 21 November 2020

Shantha Ratii Initiatives presented Sparks - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

Shantha Ratii Initiatives presented the two day Singapore International Dance Day Festival SPARKS on 6th and 7th November 2020 at the SRI studio. It was conceptualized, created and choreographed by Shantha Ratii in collaboration with Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS), Sheng Hong Arts Institute (SHAI). It was sponsored by National Arts Council of Singapore, A.R.T.S Fund, and SG Cultural AnyWay.

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Wednesday 18 November 2020

Article - Re-imagining the University - Dr. Kaustavi Sarkar

How can one find resilience in loss of livelihood? This article hopes to model an institutional solution to the pandemic by creating communities of practice across sectors - higher education and gig economy. Nevertheless, dance studies and arts policy scholar, Sarah Wilbur critiques "a celebratory stance toward the adaptive resiliency of artists amidst the mass estrangement and economic losses of the present" due to the high risk of exploitation of creative resilience. Noted Odissi artist Sharmila Biswas shouted out a clarion call for the professionalization of the artist fraternity especially in the pandemic induced dilemma regarding the virtual dissemination of performative content. Wilbur and Biswas both point towards artists' rights to make a living through art-making. Artistic content creation and dissemination require entrepreneurial skills.

While discussing the lack of entrepreneurial education in the gurukuls or the Indian classical dance conservatories in the backdrop of arts entrepreneurship as a discipline, Jasmine Pradeep Gajare argues for the need to instill a sense of drive and individual decision making capabilities in students for ensuing successful careers as artists. Gajare proposes the inculcation of entrepreneurial qualities, such as "awareness, sensibility and desire. An awareness of one's own potential and opportunities that either exist or can be created. A sensibility to subtle signs in communities, where dancers and other artists can make their talents and skills meaningful and finally the desire to explore, to realize one's own artistic dreams" (Gajare 362).

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Virtual and virtuoso - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Ileana Citaristi, the celebrated Odissi dancer in India today, did not have it all laid down for her on a silver platter. Born and brought up in Italy, she had imbibed the best of her culture and acquired performing arts skills, including an exemplary grooming in contemporary theatre from the Polish maestro Jerzy Grotowski (1933-1999), an innovative theatre director and theorist whose approaches to acting, training and theatrical production have significantly influenced theatre today. In June 1979, having decided to come to India by land route from Europe, Ileana did not have it all hunky dory. Roughing it out over a perilous journey, when she finally arrived here to learn dance, the sub-continent was not exactly ready for her with welcoming arms. This critic was acutely aware of her arduous situation at that time when she had huge problems in eking out even a decent, daily living.

Having roughed it out over four long decades and having simultaneously learnt her art and craft in Odissi and Chhau from the very best of gurus, she had stuck to her steely resolve to settle in India and become a really good performer, choreographer, teacher and scholar. If today she has an idyllic cottage for living, practising and teaching in Bhubaneswar near Lingaraja temple - where, among other things, she is able to offer an excellent fare of lec-dem to interested foreign visitors every year under the aegis of Odisha tourism - it goes to her immense credit to have come this far. Additionally, she has put in a credible effort in innovating new quality of choreographic content year after year and have them showcased with her students, besides writing her academic tomes. No wonder she has earned accolades.

In the online 16TH SANGAM FESTIVAL held from November 7 to 9, Ileana presented a mix of four hardy favourites resurrected from earlier years, with three new items. 

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Monday 16 November 2020

Roopbandh Festival - Shama Bhate's welcome initiative - Footloose and fancy free with Dr.Sunil Kothari

During the pandemic, senior dancers, choreographers, gurus have been busy exploring the new site of virtual platform to showcase their choreographic works. Of the various ways, celebrated Kathak guru/choreographer Shama Bhate of Nadroop institution, Pune, presented her latest choreographic works online on 7th and 8th November 2020 in Roopbandh Festival.

Rhythm Labyrinth
On 7th November, Nadroop presented Rhythm Labyrinth. In the nritta section was explorations of Pancham Savari tala of 15 beats. Its seeds were sown nearly four decades ago, and I had seen a performance at NCPA of the same nritta section. Shama Bhate in the new visual medium with help of technical team of cameramen Pradyumn Pathak, Pranav Pathak, editing by Pratik Parkhi and Apurva Sathe, sound by Prashant Urunkar, light design by Gunavardhan Soman of SGA Lights, video direction by Apurva Sathe, and participating dancers Ameera Patankar, Avani Gadre, Shivani Karmarkar and Bhargavi Sardesai, has pulled off a hat trick.

Friday 13 November 2020

Profile - Kala Vijayan - Venugopal SK

As part of my efforts to pay tributes to some of the finest gems in the field of Mohiniattam, who gave their lives and times to promote this beautiful dance form of Kerala, I wish to cover today, Kala Vijayan, one of the senior most dance teachers in Kerala, who I had a chance to interact with a few times during the past few months.

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Wednesday 11 November 2020

Article - The Anjali Yathi - M Subhashini Vijay Santhanam

Arrangement of rhythmic percussive syllables to match a pattern that pictorially represents a shape or object is called a Yathi. This Yathi is a common phrase set up or pattern that is typically used at the very end of several time cycles of creative rhythmic meandering to make a pretty flourish that elegantly leads to the beginning of the new rhythm cycle or Samam. Typically, the pattern of the flourish or teermanam repeats thrice. 

There are typically 6 accepted Yathi in practice. Dancers as well as percussionists use these throughout their works.

Monday 9 November 2020

Article - Speaking the Art of Aesthetics through the eyes - Compiled by Dr. S. Divyasena


Bharata’s Natya Shastra is vast like an ocean and is layered with very profound thoughts and ideologies. It is a boon to researchers, dance practitioners, scholars, teachers and students. As we all know, eyes or ‘drishti’ plays a vital role in creating an emotion or Bhaava to evoke the relevant Rasa.

I hope this small attempt of mine to consolidate the 178 Slokas in Chapter 8 of Natya Shastra, will act as a tool and give you an insight in understanding the importance of ‘drishti’ in Rasa. The following tables   illustrate the different eye movements used to create all nine rasas, the stayi Bhaavas and how to express the vyabichari Bhaavas.

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Book Review - Evolution and mutation of dance in Eastern metropolis - Dr. Utpal K Banerjee

 Kolkatar Naach, Samakaleen Nagarnritya

Aishika Chakraborty
2019, Rs. 450
ISBN 978-93-86443-80-9

Ranjabati: A Dancer and Her World
Edited & Introduced by Aishika Chakraborty
40 Satish Mukherjee Road, Kolkata 700 020
2018 (third reprint), Rs.500
ISBN 978-93-81703-67-0

The three villages, Kalikat, Sutanuti and Govindapur -- where Calcutta was located -- came into the possession of the British East India Company only in 1690. Some scholars like to date the city's beginning from the construction of Fort William by the British in 1698, though this is debated. From 1772 to 1911, Calcutta was the glorious capital of British India. This status was lost when the capital was shifted in 1912 to Delhi. But up to India's Independence in 1947, it remained the capital of the entire Bengal. Only after Independence, Calcutta (now Kolkata) became the capital of the truncated Indian state of West Bengal.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Profile - Kalamandalam Sugandhi - Venugopal SK

My tributes to some of the finest gems in the world of Mohiniattam practitioners who made their mark with their typical style and identities, yet contributing substantially towards developing the dance form to the present level of acceptance worldwide. Earlier in one of my previous articles, I shared my experience of going through a wonderful virtual journey through the most enchanting dance form of Mohiniattam. This was possible during the past 6 months or so, when I had lot of time at my disposal to explore and find out more about the dance form I love the most.

As a sequel I would now like to start a small series of write ups on a few wonderful personalities I came across during this sojourn. It's purely to satisfy my own inner self that I am writing this series and it covers only my views and observations as a tribute to these fine artistes. They are some of the veterans in the field of Mohiniattam, who have given their life and times to learn, practice, innovate and propagate the dance form to their best of abilities. I am not going by any specific order based on seniority or reputation, but by purely following my instincts.

Sunday 1 November 2020

Interview - Devi Diaries: Part 2

 Inspired by the writings of Sri Aurobindo's 'The Mother,' initiated DEVI DIARIES, inviting artistes to share their personal experiences and enhance it with a brief video presentation of their favorite Goddess or a real life female heroic figure.

The basic questions asked were:
Who is your favorite Goddess figure / why?
At what point in your life did the particular Goddess become your favorite? / Do you recall any particular incident connected with the Goddess?
How did you celebrate Navaratri in the past? / What are your plans for this year?

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Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - November 2020


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Anita says...November 2020

 Success is not final

Failure is not fatal
That counts
- Winston Churchill

What are we watching? What are we reading? What are we learning? What are we having fun with? What are we struggling with? What are we unlearning? What are we thinking about? What is making us smile-laugh-weep-gasp?

With the IPL on right now, I wonder who is actually watching anything but cricket! And yes... there are so many dancers who are cricket crazy!