Monday, 27 September 2021

Interview - An imaginary interview with Guru Gopinath - Tapati Chowdurie

In my days of innocence I did not fully comprehend the greatness of my guru. Realization came to me as I matured. Guruji had prepared me to be a lover of the aesthetics of dance. I realized it more fully when I started writing on dance. I regret that as a writer on dance I had not taken his interview before he left his mortal body on October 9, 1987. I had missed the bus. However I took the help of his autobiography in Malayalam to get an insight into the making of a guru.


Babita Nair helped me with the English translation, which I have used in my imaginary interview of my Guru-Master.


Master, under what circumstances did you meet the American born dancer Esther Luella Sherman - known as Ragini Devi?
While I was a trainee in Kalamandalam, during the first week of October 1931, a woman from America, the famous dancer Ragini Devi arrived with Art writer G Venkitachalam. At that time, Guru Kunju Kurupp Asan was teaching mukha abhinayam (facial expressions) to us - i.e myself, Madhavan, Sivaraman, Kelu Nair, Krishnan Nair etc. According to the instructions of Mukundaraja, each of us performed one of the Navarasas for Ragini Devi and Venkitachalam. I performed sringaram and roudram rasas. Once the Navarasa abhinaya was over, Ragini Devi enquired from Mukundaraja about my age and my practise period; he translated her question in Malayalam for me. I had just crossed 23 with 11 years of training (both in the Northern and Southern style) of Kathakali.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

How Gita Govinda colored my life - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

While, fully charged, I was pressing ahead with a three language version of Tagore's 300 songs --under individual titles of Mystic Songs of Tagore; Romantic Songs of Tagore and Patriotic Songs of Tagore with a hundred songs in each volume (for Abhinav Publications) - some dancer-friends came over to ask me why didn't I do a similar English poetry version of Jayadeva's Gita Govinda? When I looked back at them quizzically, they explained that while they frequently interpreted Jayadeva's Ashtapadis in their individual classical dance forms, they had invariably to fall back upon the English prose translations of Gorge Keyt and others for gleaning the meaning of the original Sanskrit poetic text. A convenient rhymed verse translation of Gita Govinda would do them a world of good! Convinced, I began looking at Jayadeva, when I was hooked -- for the rest of my life - with his profusion and command over Mandakranta rhyming scheme!

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Friday, 17 September 2021

West Zone Cultural Centre presents online Malhar Festival - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

A celebratory festival marking seventy five years of India's 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav,' the four day virtual event Malhar organised by the WZCC at Udaipur, under the Cultural Affairs Ministry, began with a Kathakali performance pertaining to the traditional repertoire - which, for this critic, represents the best expression of this country's freedom - without having to be shackled to any special patriotic theme.

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Saturday, 4 September 2021

Evolution of Kathak in post independent India - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Referred to as the 'Maha Kumbha' of Kathak, Sangeet Natak Akademi's marathon fifteen day festival conducted under the auspices of the Kathak Kendra, featuring interviews with art scholars and celebrated artists alongside lec/dem sessions and performances, was one of its kind - even while some of the choices in selection and those left out of the reckoning, may have caused mixed feelings. This concept of the Kathak Kendra Director Suman Kumar, curated by Subhash Chandra, running in tandem with the celebration of seventy five years of India's Independence, was titled 'Vande Maataram', (Bankim Chandra Chatopadhyay's composition based on the rich iconography in the country, saluting 'Mother India'). While many participants expressed the appropriateness of the title at this point in our history, a few others voiced the opinion that something less 'political and declamatory' would have been better. Clarified in the timetable of events as "diverse expressions in Kathak", what finally emerged in the mixed event largely stressed individual journeys in Kathak, with fleeting moments, when thinking minds communicated the message that arts cannot live in cuckoo land, cut off from the concerns of a nation.

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Obit/Tribute - K Subash Chandran - Vijay Shanker

Mumbai's leading cultural personality and former program director of National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), K Subash Chandran, left for his heavenly abode on July 21, 2021 in Mumbai. He was 90 and is survived by his wife, daughter Thulasi, son-in-law and two grandchildren. He was suffering from Parkinson's disease and other medical issues and was bedridden for eight months.

Hailing from Kerala, K Subash Chandran had a distinguished career, serving the government and private sector as well. He was private secretary to the former Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and also the private secretary to Indira Gandhi, when she was the minister for Information and Broadcasting. Subash was also a close associate of former defense minister VK Krishna Menon. 

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Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Anita says...September 2021

 "It's time to put our paranoia about the virus on a leash and take it for a walk."

- Shared over a telephone call with Madhu Nataraj

The festival season is upon us and with it come several moments to smile as we all attempt to open up our homes and lives to the outside world.

Now that the imprint of baby feet have been drawn in the courtyards and altars of several homes across the world to mark the birth day of Lord Krishna, we can prepare for the arrival of beloved Ganesha and onwards to more and more days that will remind us of the importance of ritual and the cyclical spiral of life. No matter which faith one belongs to, the onset of cooler weather and the sun's winter descent always signals more celebrations, prayers and gatherings. Despite the threat of a third wave, people seem determined to find ways to share experiences and the small joys of life.

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Sunday, 29 August 2021

Interview - S. Rajeswari: A satisfying journey in music - Hema Iyer Ramani


 “Two roads diverged in a wood , and I-

 I took the one less travelled by,

And, that has made all the difference.”
- Robert Frost

The story of musician S. Rajeswari who was conferred with the M.S. Subbulakshmi Award by Tamizh Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram  earlier this year, is one such story where she had to make her choices when she came to the fork in the road.

She talks about her journey and her chance encounter with a dance legend, Kumari Kamala, which brought in a new facet to her singing and soon, she carved a niche for herself, and came to be applauded for her contribution to dance music. She soon was the voice behind several prima-donnas of her time.

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Saturday, 28 August 2021

Teach India - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

 


'Each one teach one' ran a popular slogan, some years ago. As we approach Teacher's Day (5 Sept, so named in India because when the scholar President of India Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, a fine teacher himself, was asked how his birthday ought to be celebrated, he said he is what he was because of his teachers. Honour them; make it Teachers Day and celebrate all teachers), I fondly remember many of our teachers, who actually made us what we are today.

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Friday, 27 August 2021

Unmute - 'Unmute. Help': A Performers Guide to speaking up about Rights and Responsibilities of artists and Arts leaders - Dr. Arshiya Sethi

On 11th August this year, a group of three people committed to the arts took a step that had never been taken before, though there was a palpable need for it. The group of three were Kolkata based Somabha Bandopadhyay, lawyer, dancer and activist working with transgender populations, Kolkata and Bangalore based Paramita Saha, dancer and Arts entrepreneur, and me, Dr. Arshiya Sethi, Delhi based independent dance scholar, "Artivist" (Arts and activism) and columnist of the arts.

Between us we represented three organisations, Sruti Performing Troupe which was set up by Somabha's mother, Manipuri dancer and Dance Professor Sruti Bandopadhyay, Artsforward, co-founded by Paramita, that designs strategic encounters between Artists and Business communities and Kri Foundation that works on Arts, Activism and Knowledge creation and which was set up by me 18 years ago. We also represent three generations.

But we are not ageists and so worked collaboratively, drawing on each other's specific capacities and strengths, to set up together, in the commons, a website called Unmute.help, an Artistes' guide to serve as an online, open access resource centre on Arts and the Law.

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Sunday, 22 August 2021

Profile - Guru Gopinath-An epic personality - VP Dhananjayan

In my childhood, I grew up watching Guru Gopinath's Navarasa pictures in Mathrubhumi weekly and every now and then got inspired to imitate his exquisite facial expressions, least expecting that I would become a performing artiste at that time. Providence brought me to Kalakshetra in 1953, and ever since, I started watching him at close quarters performing at various venues in Madras whenever there were cultural delegations from foreign countries, where Kalakshetra was also a participant. I was really excited watching him at close quarters and tried to imbibe his histrionic excellence.


My Kathakali Guru Chandu Panikkar was a great admirer of Guru Gopinath and used to comment that "the god given face of this man surpasses divinity of god himself." Listening to such comments from a legendary Kathakali Asan himself, we children took to heart Asan Gopinath as our 'manaseeka guru'.

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Saturday, 21 August 2021

Profile - Gloria Mandelik - Celebrated ballerina turns glorious eighty (A bridge between Madrid & Madras) - José Luis Greco

Embracing Classical Ballet, Spanish and Indian Dance, the unusual and eclectic nature of Gloria Mandelik's career has been the subject of interesting controversies since its beginnings. The depth of her knowledge of the dance language of these three cultures can be appreciated by seeing the heights she has attained in her long career.


Born into a family immersed in the international film industry, Ms. Mandelik (1941) attended her first ballet class at the age of four. Soon afterwards she moved from the U.S. to her father's birthplace, France, where she was admitted to the Ballet Academy of the Opera of Monte Carlo. Between the ages of 8 and 12, under the tutelage of her mentor, Gérard Mulys (ballet master of the Operas of Nice and Paris), she studied and performed at the Opera of Nice. For the next three years she furthered her ballet studies with David Lichine in Los Angeles, returning to Paris to complete her scholastic studies and continue with ballet, drama and painting classes.

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Friday, 20 August 2021

Obit/Tribute - Vedantam Ramachandra Vara Prasad - Vijay Shanker

Veteran Kuchipudi exponent, mentor and choreographer, Vedantam Ramachandra Vara Prasad, left for his heavenly abode on 6th August 2021 in Hyderabad. A resident of Chennai, he was shifted to Hyderabad due to medical issues by his nephew and was in ICU for about a week and expired due to multi-organ failure. He was a bachelor and is survived by his two brothers in Canada and USA. He was 64. His immense contribution towards the enrichment and propagation of Kuchipudi spans more than three decades.

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Wednesday, 18 August 2021

The Immanent and Immaculate One - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Satyam Shivam Sundaram was a thematic Kuchipudi solo performance, presented online, by Dilip Diwakar, a Kuchipudi artist from Chennai and the senior disciple of Guru Sailaja. The theme of the presentation was a holistic appreciation of Shiva, as stated in the introduction: "Understanding that eternal reality which causes the Satchitananda. The Linga Purana states, 'the non-characterized is the root of characterized'. This characterized is endowed with the senses, which are of five -- color, smell, taste, sound and touch, and is called as Prakriti or Pradhāna or Shakti. On the contrary, that which is devoid of everything is the non-characterized, called the Purusha or Shiva, which is the substratum to the Prakriti. From this union comes the intellectual identical self, Atman/Brahman, the inside/outside. In turn, this trifurcates as 'truth, consciousness, bliss', 'Sat, Chit, Ananda', leading to Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram, the sublime nature of Lord Shiva." After such a profound introduction, one approaches the performed narrative with some trepidation, expecting a comprehensive enunciation of various manifestations of Shiva as visualized in sculptures through the ages, as very briefly mentioned above. In an over-70-minute presentation, one is occasionally left wondering whether he got a thorough initiation from his choreographer and mentor into this prerequisite. And one does wonder as to which Shiva iconic form allows him to don a thoroughly feminine makeup: complete with garish red lipstick, elaborate eye decorations and even using copious alta (red lac-dye) under both feet, to re-imagine the austere masculine countenance of Shiva!

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Saturday, 14 August 2021

Interview - Curating / organizing a dance festival - physical and digital: Part 2 - Shveta Arora

 VIDHA LAL


A weekly series for just Kathak
During this pandemic, everybody was trying to show their creativity, some even by cooking and cleaning, and classical dancers started putting their own videos shot in their homes, just like that. Most videos were sad—they featured melancholy poetry etc. Then I realized that slowly, people had started online festivals where they were not offering anything to dancers, but dancers were making sincere efforts, like wearing full costumes and make-up, putting up curtains, presenting a good performance any way they could. Time is money, and they spent entire days putting in this effort, despite no remuneration. This made me feel very sad. We didn't know how long we were going to be in this situation. If we are going to be like this for quite some time, like another year, I don't think the message should go out that artistes are free. This is our bread and butter. Senior artistes were not doing much of this, but the younger generation was putting a lot of content on social media for free, which I felt was dangerous. Ultimately, why would anyone pay to see such artistes (if they readily put up free new content)? Some of my content is on YouTube, so if you want to watch for free, watch YouTube. Why do you want me to come and dance 'live' for free?


USHA RK
I did my first interview with Usha RK, an arts consultant, who has worked with both veteran and young artistes and performers for over three decades, promoting and propagating classical arts. Her interesting thematic presentations have been widely appreciated, of which I have watched Devi Kshetram, Divya Pushpam, Navarasa Nayaka and many more. Many of them have been reported on my blog.

Do you go about curating an event according to a distinct concept?
I don't put together performances which have already been performed elsewhere. Often, a curator will simply choose the location and the dancer, and the artist will perform what they have already rehearsed and performed before. For my programme, they cannot do an already prepared piece. I develop the concept and give them a piece to work on. Sometimes, you get some thoughts and you begin to wonder how the concept will translate on stage. So I would like to use the word 'conceptualization' instead of curation.

I started working on conceptual programmes way back in 2006. I wanted to carve a niche doing something unusual. I took the compositions of Bhadrachala Ramadasu and I had 7 male dancers do it and it became very popular. It was the story of the poet, but told through his songs. The seven dancers portrayed the whole story of his life. Similarly, I realized that many characters from our mythology do not get too much space in the imagination, in that they are not the front runners in the story, but are vital, like Draupadi, Karna, Surpanakha, Ravana etc. So we took these characters for Patra Parichay and introduced them. For instance, Ravana is never the subject of a whole program, but in the program, we introduced him as a great hero, a Shiva bhakta and musician. We explored all the aspects of a character. So we called the series Patra Parichay. In Delhi, we did Ahalya, Surpanakha, Karna and Draupadi. It was very popular in Bengaluru and I did many more there. These were very successful and the dancers wanted more such chances.


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Interview - Curating / organizing a dance festival - physical and digital: Part 1 - Shveta Arora

 In my series of interviews on the building blocks of a classical dance performance, I begin before the dancer is on stage, emoting through her expressions and giving a presentation of her sadhna in her technique; even before the choreographer has prepared or steps or the musician has set the music. The process begins when a person sitting in the comfort of his/ her living room is thinking of curating a series, an event to mark an occasion or a festival. He or she then develops a concept and goes about assessing dancers accordingly, books a venue or platform, perhaps chooses the literary compositions and the music, and last but not least, arranges for sponsors and funds for the event. It is an arduous task, planning everything from scratch. And usually, the curators of classical arts events do it less for remuneration and more for their love of the arts. They are satisfied if their hard work pays off and the artists get a platform and the right kind of audience.


And then suddenly, there is a pandemic, the first in a hundred years, and humanity goes into a near-total lockdown. All events are cancelled overnight, auditoriums closed, and the arts swallowed up by the gloom of disease and anxiety. But this passion for the arts is a wriggly little caterpillar. The moment it wriggles out of its cocoon, it starts to spread its wings, and there goes the monarch butterfly in glorious flight. And you see the dancer again, maybe not in her full makeup, maybe not in her elaborate aharyam, but with her beautiful eyes displaying all the expressions, her feet tapping and her technique captured in the eye of a camera instead of in front of an audience. And she is everywhere: on your laptop, on your mobile, on your TV, dancing on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. And the curator is still sitting in the comfort of their home, this time, not by choice, but still doing whatever it takes to carry on curating.

I spoke to four curators with slightly different trajectories: Dr. Usha RK, whose curated events I have watched many times on stage and a repeat of one on Shaale again during the pandemic; Dr. Anita Ratnam, whose multiple Boxed series (the latest one responding to the new lockdowns), Andal's Garden, Devi Diaries and others, have been among the highlights of the online dance presentations during the pandemic; Geeta Chandran, whose curation of the annual Natya Vriksha World Dance Day festival I have always admired; and Vidha Lal, who forayed into curation only during the pandemic with her successful Sankalp series of weekly Kathak performances.

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Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Profile - Chandrabhaga Devi: Truly a Shakti of Maha Maya - Jyothi Raghuram

August 11 is the birth centenary of UK Chandrabhaga Devi, the earliest woman proponent of Bharatanatyam in Karnataka. A commendable, pioneering leap, if one goes back to the early Forties. Her bold, giant step opened the floodgates for dance to be pursued by young girls from respectable families. One pays obeisance to this quiet and dignified Guru, whose steely resolve to step into the dance world was foundational for some of the finest dancers to emerge from Karnataka.


She fell in love with the flamboyant U S Krishna Rao, an academic and passionate dancer, and tied the knot to become the first dance couple in the State. The glamour quotient of classical dance,  particularly Bharatanatyam with its rich costuming and familiarity in the South, remains a status and culture symbol; some dance classes resemble the functioning of corporate houses, churning out dancers in batches. Classical dance is a celebrated art to pursue, looked upon with admiration, with promising career opportunities. What a distance it has traversed from the devadasi days to present times!

Reason enough to deify Chandrabhaga Devi.

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Article - Nava Karanaani: A new series of nritta movements crystallized - V.P. Dhananjayan

 


The present adavu system we employ in Bharatanatyam is totally different from the original Naatyasastra Karanas, except for a few postures which resemble a few of the karanas of Bharata’s Naatyasastra.
 
I want to document the changes over the centuries from what is contained in the  Naatyasastra, thereby creating a record of the karanas that are currently in use. This will be helpful to people graduating from various schools and institutions as it will bridge the gap between the theory in the Naatyasastra and the current practice of Bharatanatyam.

The Naatyasastra is the most important text of dramaturgy that Bhaarat has ever produced. Written by Sage Bharatha (between 500 BC to 300 AD), it serves as a comprehensive guide, extensively covering all aspects of theatre. Though the title literally means ‘Science of Theatre,’ the Naatyasastra contains fundamental facts about all our art forms. In 6,000 Samskritam slokas under 36 chapters, Naatyasastra covers all aspects of theatre and other art forms, beginning with origin of theatre, acting, costuming, make-up, properties, dance, music, poetic composition, play construction, grammar, audiences, rituals, and the architecture of theatre.

There has been no concerted effort to update this treatise with the changes and evolution of the arts over the past several centuries. While scholars and artistes have made commentaries and translated the text into other languages, no one has extended the theories contained in the Naatyasastra to include the insights of later generations.

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Friday, 6 August 2021

Dance at dawn - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

'Bandish' is a pan-Indian lexicon for the text of classical music or the libretto of a specific song. Interestingly, it resonates with the Bengali word 'Bandi', meaning 'the one in bondage', and makes one immediately hum Kazi Nazrul Islam's inspiring hymn: Iron gates of captive jail / Break them down, let freedom prevail...The yearlong pandemic lockdown prevailed with dark, dreary nights with everything going bleak and virtual and their apparent recession just at the moment glows with some hope, to be welcomed by open-armed physical bonhomie - could this lull permit a brief song-and-dance workout? The reverberations do hark back to the 1950s' Hollywood romantic blockbuster, Singin' in the Rain, with Gene Kelly's joyous steps and aerial leaps filling the screen in a perfect Music Hall routine amidst pouring downpours.

Bandish Arts, a recent non-profit organization set up for artists' welfare and assured payment for performance (to replace "pay and perform" mentality) founded by Swati Athmanathan - a Chennai based disciple of Guru CV Chandrasekhar and Santanu Roy, a Kolkata based disciple of Samrat Dutta --promoted, during the brief respite in lockdown some elements of performing arts on, first, online platform and covered 100 episodes of performances and interactive sessions in the entire globe and later opening up in the physical form. Later, it curated Bandish Arts - Season2 for Kolkata Chapter on March 12 at 'Rangkarmee Usha Ganguly Manch,' a studio theatre created in the memory of Usha Ganguly, the doyen of Hindi theatre in Kolkata, whom the Bharatanatyam dance world had gifted to the metropolis and whom the city lost during the pandemic.

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Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Obit/Tribute - A tribute to Kalyani Menon - VP Dhananjayan

Kalyani Menon passed away on August 2, 2021 aged 80. We will always remember the great soul, a very loving personality and cherish fond memories of her.

We have a number of beautiful singers in the classical, semi-classical and playback fields of music. But very few excel with a devotional fervour tonal quality like M.S. Amma, T.M. Soundarajan, K.J. Yesudas, P.Leela to mention a few. Especially in Kerala, P. Leela's devotional songs reverberated in all temples. After her devotional singing, Kalyani Menon's voice was heard everywhere with that kind of devotional quality.

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Sunday, 1 August 2021

Anita says...August 2021

 

Dancers are athletes of the spirit.
- Martha Graham, American modern dance icon

And so, we have arrived at month #18 of our confined existence. April 2020 to August 2021.

Do not believe the stories that the world has opened up and that people are running around the beaches without masks. It may be happening in the USA where rules rarely seem to matter when it comes to personal liberty, but everyone is steeling themselves for the Delta or Lambda variant and the Third Wave.

Many eyes turned away from dance platforms to watch the stunning opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. And, of course to cheer the brave efforts of Manipuri weight lifter Mirabai Chanu who scored India's first silver medal. How many more honours will come our way is not the only question. Besides cricket, does our country actually care about any other sport?

Dance gurus are exhilarated as so many of their students have shone brilliantly in their school final exams. What a double delight to have a good dance student who also excels in academics! The turning point arrives when girls turn 18, and leave for brighter financial horizons! The only hope is that the experience of 10 years in a dance environment has sensitized them as individuals and future rasikas.

So, this editorial is about the lesser revealed and not so glamorous work that some dance advocates are immersed in. While thousands are rehearsing, filming, posting videos of themselves in warm up sessions and weight training, I am sidestepping this nonstop barrage of videos to write about what caught my eye and mind space.

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Thursday, 29 July 2021

Fond remembrances of selfless Guru of Jaipur Gharana Guru Kundanlal Gangani - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


Conceived and organised by Jaipur Gharana Kathak dancer Prerana Shrimali, as a 
Kalaavart initiative, virtually observing the Punya Thithi (death anniversary) of Kathak guru Kundanlal Gangani, was one of its kind, rising above mundane thanksgiving to a departed guru. It was one of those rare events when not one person in the painstakingly selected panel of shishyas, hogged the mike by going beyond allotted time. Intelligently moderated by Prerana, the brief, but telling homages, evoked a real feel of a Guru who had left behind fond memories of not just his teaching expertise, but more, his rare human qualities.


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Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Dance Matters and how! - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Dance is centre stage once again. Thanks to the concerted efforts of a few. Topping that list or making it are a few who kept the flame going in Karo-Na Kaal. My terminology for Corona/ Covid Times. Just keep the candle lit with news, views and tidbits. This portal for one. It has kept us informed who did what or even died, in the last few months. Not just dancers but musicians too. I lost three dear dosts of 40 years standing: doyen of Delhi Chand gharana Ustad Iqbal; editor-author Alka Raghuvanshi, and doctor to many K.K. Agarwal, he of the TV fame, with stethoscope on his shoulder. These were known names so got a mention elsewhere too but what of thousands, nay lakhs, who lost out to this deadly virus? In our lifetime, this is the worst ever phase, for those of us who saw and survived wars with China and Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. This portal made space for most artistes. It even told us who won an award or a title. An impresario from Delhi calls to ask, "Season is starting, hall is getting bookings, where to advertise, which is best dance portal of all?" And without hesitation I say "Narthaki." Reason: not because I've written for it for 20 years now but because none others have had consistent standard fare or basic substance. Add credibility. For 20+ years, Narthaki has carried on, just like the dance yearbook attenDance (attendance-india.com). 2 decades is an eon, an era. Especially in this age of nano seconds. Some die-hard dancers, gurus and institutions too carried on tirelessly in the worst of times we have seen and been through. For many teachers, online classes stopped as parents said their kids suffered from internet fatigue studying online for regular school. How did dancers manage in these times? Individuals may have helped their favourites but did anyone come to their rescue officially on a national platform?


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Monday, 26 July 2021

Article - Labeling Guru Gopinath's dance style - Vasanti Gopinath Jayaswal

 


Lately, during these stagnant Covid times I have seen on YouTube, videos of classes and dance routines, labeled as Guru Gopinath's Kerala Natanam. They have modified it and sadly added Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam in the stances and movement patterns. It is important for the current public and art enthusiasts therefore to know the following facts. I have itemized them for better understanding.

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Sunday, 25 July 2021

Article - Radha Krsna: The Eternal Couple - Seema KS


Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa have been a source of inspiration to innumerous poets and authors due to which numerous works are available describing the everlasting relationship of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and other themes revolving around them such as love, separation, sorrow, mischief, pastimes and so on in the form of poems, stories, dramas, operas and so on in Indian literature. Some of these literary works have been touched upon in this article.

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Saturday, 24 July 2021

Surrender to the Supreme - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

 


Kanhopatra featured in the online Geeva Arts Festival 2021, is a digital work-in-progress of the UK-based Bharatanatyam dancer Divya Ravi, in collaboration with her musician husband, Dr. Sharan Subramanian. Observations of Divya, a senior and widely travelled artiste, about Kanhopatra are revealing. "She was the daughter of a courtesan in the 15th century, who refused to follow her mother's path of luxury. She remained a solitary woman to have treaded the path of enlightenment uninstructed. Kanhopatra's matrilineal origin and her refusal to serve as an accessory to a male saintly figure, placed her at the periphery of our patriarchal society and she was habitually brushed off as insignificant by both scholars and laymen. An autonomous, solitary woman, unattested by androcentric norms, was a threat and hence ignored."

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

Obit/Tribute - Ace sets and lighting designer passes away - Vijay Shanker

 


Thane based ace sets and lighting designer Pathikrit Mukherjee, left for his heavenly abode on 27th June 2021. Pathikrit was diabetic and was hospitalised due to certain health issues. He leaves behind his wife Odissi exponent Nivedita and son Aritra. He was 61.

For more than three decades, Pathikrit provided sets and designed lights for several dance and theatrical productions. He was associated with some of the leading organisations of Mumbai like the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Nehru Centre, Amita Banerjee's Udayan, Shahana and the Durga Pooja festival. He worked with some of the leading dancers like Menaka Thakker (USA), Uma Dogra, Daksha Mashruwala and was closely associated with the 'Ekaharya' presentations of singer, actor and composer Shekar Sen for over thirty five years, in the enactment of Tulsidas, Kabir, Vivekenanda etc. Along with Shekar Sen he toured around the world for his productions.

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Monday, 19 July 2021

Mahatma through dancers' prism - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

 


Trust the ace Odissi dancer Sharmila Biswas of the eastern metropolis to think "out-of-the-box" whenever chance comes! She has spent a lifetime already in teaching talented students and choreographing on several unusual themes, besides researching on Odisha's indigenous culture of singing, musical instruments, life of Devadasis and sundry other Odisha related subjects.

And, as a conscious citizen, she kept a note of some of the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi over the past couple of decades. Mahatma's political, social and spiritual journey through life, his constant quest for truth and his steely determination never to make a compromise - even under the most adverse circumstances - had made a deep impression on her thinking self as on every conscientious Indian. She had often toyed with the idea as to how she could bring them to bear upon a dancer's performance persona.

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Saturday, 17 July 2021

Tribute - Natyacharya K. Muralidhar Rao - Dr. Shrividya Muralidhar


It is an honour to reminisce about the late Natyacharya K. Muralidhar Rao, whose 98th birthday is on August 2nd. He was like a Kala Muni of the 20th century. His entire life covering ninety decades was dedicated in pursuit of drawing, music, dance, photography and writing articles. A life unequivocally dedicated to art alone! Being the last disciple of the veteran artiste, the life of my Guru is a biopic he orated and made me visualize. This is my humble effort to recollect his meritorious life.

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Sunday, 11 July 2021

Book Review - Garland of Memories: Celebrating the life and times of a legendary Guru - Kiran Java

Nritya Samrat Pt. Birju Maharaj

by Dr. Nandkishore Kapote
nkapote9@gmail.com
Published: June 2021
Message/Greeting by Dr. Sonal Mansingh and Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam
Cover Photo by Avinash Pasricha, Back Cover Photo by Innee Singh
Back Cover Poetry by Pt. Birju Maharaj
Language: Bi-lingual (Hindi | English)
Pages: 368
Size: 7" x 9"
ISBN 978-93-5473-457-1

This book was inaugurated by Pt. Birju Maharaj in Delhi and was released at Pune Patrakar Bhavan on June 29, 2021, at a felicitation held for Kathak exponents.


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Saturday, 10 July 2021

Tribute - Celebrating 100 years of Yog Sunder Desai A Century of Life and Dance - Papiha Desai

Yog Sunder Desai, a pioneer who ventured into the world of Indian Dance in the pre independence era, was born on July 16, 1921 in Limbdi, Gujarat into a princely family of Gujarat. July 16, 2021 is his Birth Centenary. In his 100th year of life in 2020, Yog Sunder was the senior most living artiste and choreographer of India.


His maternal grandfather Jhaverbhai Amin was the Diwan of Limbdi state and his paternal grandfather Ambaidas Jeevabhai's ancestors were the administrators of the Mughals and the Gaekwads.

Yog Sunder was born to illustrious parents Bhaktiba, a freedom fighter and Darbar Gopaldas, the ruler of Dhasa State in Gujarat, the first Indian prince to give up his throne in response to Gandhi's call to serve the motherland and join the freedom movement. Darbar Saheb as he was addressed became a prominent leader of Gujarat, leading the masses with the Sardar in Borsad and Bardoli Satyagrahas, Salt Satyagraha and the Quit India movement. President of Kathiawad Rajkiya Parishad and Saurashtra Congress Committee, Gopaldas worked for the unification of the 200 plus states of Kathiawad - Ekam Saurashtra. He was the first prince in India to merge his principality with the Indian Union and one of the first members of the Constituent Assembly of India. The constitution of India bears his signature.

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Friday, 9 July 2021

Breaking gender barriers - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

 


Chitrangada: The story of a Hermaphrodite, presented by 'Santoshpur Anuchintan' took the bull by the horns and considered the whole question of human sexuality in a highly imaginative format of dance choreography, mimetic action, music and painting. Conceived and directed by the avant-garde young director Gaurav Das, the performance was accepted in the 'Learn Togetherness: Beyond Binaries' Art Festival, organized jointly by Kolkata Centre for Creativity, British Council India and the gender related NGO 'Sappho for Equality', for streaming from June 21 to 27 on the KCC YouTube channel.

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Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Article - Dance and detachment - Ramaa Venugopalan

“I just don’t put that much pressure on myself any more, I'm okay with that. I’m okay with not winning Grand Slams,” Kyrgios said. “I’m okay with just enjoying myself, putting on a show. Not everyone can be a (Roger) Federer or (Novak) Djokovic. These are once-in-a-decade athletes that inspire millions of people, they're just gods.”


This guy is something. Maverick and a bit more, but this statement has been spinning in my head for a couple of days now. It's a lot to say on a grand slam tour. As we were discussing this with my 13 year old Suputra, who is training in competitive tennis, I could not help but draw a parallel to the dance world.

Imagine, any top notch dancer ever saying something like this, when they are already on the high ladder. The focus is on enjoying the sport or the art with all the love and joy one can have, and never worry a bit about the returns in terms of top notch performance opportunities or fame.

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Saturday, 3 July 2021

Obit/Tribute - Tribute to Guru Pandit Anupam Rai - Vijay Shanker


Mumbai based veteran classical music and Kathak dance mentor, choreographer and composer Pandit Anupam Rai left for his heavenly abode, early morning on Sunday 27th June 2021 following a cardiac arrest. He was diabetic and was also affected by Covid but had recovered from it. He leaves behind his wife Rita, daughter Anurita and son Anuratna, besides several disciples. He was 62.

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Thursday, 1 July 2021

Anita says...July 2021

 

A meeting of two, eye to eye, face to face
And when you are near I will tear your eyes out
And place them instead of mine,
And you will tear my eyes out
And place them instead of yours,
Then I will look at me with mine
- Jacob L Moreno, American psychiatrist and founder of psychodrama

And so 6 months pass by
With the monotony and sameness of clouds, a sleepy moth, a sluggish snail.
Hours, days and weeks pass by...
Those with routines have a semblance of order.
For most. It is a big never ending muddle.
And the eternal wait... for what?

Another lockdown? The THIRD WAVE? Opening up. Fear. Confusion. To go out or not? Heightened melodrama. Disturbed sleep. Curious dreams.

There have been so many small spurts of initiatives, premieres - the joyful shout of glee as dancers step onto stages in many cities across the world. Their sigh of gratitude for having people watching them live instead of trapped inside ZOOM squares.


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Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - July 2021

 



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Sunday, 27 June 2021

Bipin Singh: A lodestar in dancers' constellation - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


 Guru Bipin Singh (1918 – 2000), a director, choreographer and scholar of Manipuri dance, is regarded as Father of Manipuri style for more reasons than one. First, he displayed an early flair for ordinal skill (i.e., naming the elements he could identify in the traditions of Lai Haraoba as well as Nata Sankirtan and the seven Ras Leelas that could be amalgamated in the emerging Manipuri form); ordinal skill (i.e., deciding relative importance to be attached to each element); and interval skill (i.e., determining how much or how little he would attach depth and duration to each element). To this could be added his formidable combinatorial skill (i.e., resolving what the most aesthetic combination would be that would genuinely enrich the newly emerging style and its holistic expression).....

Darshana summarises her approach as follows: "The lifelong creative contribution of Guru Bipin Singh to widen the horizon of classical Manipuri dance is unparalleled.The vast knowledge of tradition of Ras and Sankirtan, in-depth study of Shastras and his creative genius with aesthetic sensibility enabled him to create repertoire including training courses and choreographies for stage presentation. Guru Pratistha has tried to bring out the beauty and richness of a few of his rare choreographies, having roots in the tradition of Ras and Sankirtan of Manipur. The eight segments of Guru Pratistha are: 1. Nritya Siksha (teaching system), 2. Nrittabandha (pure dance), 3. Prabandha (musical composition), 4. Tandava (male form), 5. Kirti Prabandha (mukhbol-poem), 6. Gaman (gaits), 7. Anukriti (interpretative dance) and 8. Shevadhi (dedication). Each segment is interpreted by Darshana Jhaveri and Sanjib Bhattacharya, disciples of Guru Bipin Singh, through their experiences, as the process behind each creation of his."

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Thursday, 24 June 2021

Odissi's breath of fresh air - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

 Parampara - A Classical Dance Festival, with Odissi presentation organized online by Shinjan Nrityalaya, under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and EZCC, presented a bevy of bright young third generation dancers on June 17, the first day.

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Saturday, 19 June 2021

Article - How can dance teachers continually provide a success path for their students? - Ramaa Venugopalan

 The journey of a teacher in art is a long, arduous unique path with each student. When the performative phase begins, the challenges are far more complicated. In today's art world where mostly every dancer is a performer / teacher, I do wonder how much can each of us pave the path for our students? How much can we push them towards a successful performative journey, with top notch performance experiences, exposure and ensure alongside that we are also growing?


This becomes exceedingly challenging especially when both the teacher and the taught are both actively performing. Earlier, teachers would only teach, conduct and plan performances of their disciples. The lines were clear. A capable and knowledgeable teacher could churn out many successful students, and students would either stay the course or find their own journey ahead. The scene now has changed immensely. It is not enough to just impart art, but also constantly find performance opportunities for the students.

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Thursday, 17 June 2021

Article - Sringara and Bhakti in Naatya - V. P. Dhananjayan



(Text of lecture demonstration given by V.P. Dhananjayan first appeared as article in 'The Journal of The Madras Music Academy Vol. LIV')

Art and culture are the two inseparable aspects of human life. Art in its innumerable forms is the reflection of the creative ability of man and serves and preserves the cultural heritage of any nation. From time immemorial the different art forms have been the media for worship and a pathway to salvation or 'moksha.'

Whatever we may say or do, the ultimate goal of human life is salvation. Therefore, religious institutions fostered these art forms to a high degree of perfection and thereby inculcated the spirit of righteousness through devotion to the supreme architect of this diversified universe. Amongst these beautiful creations of art, 'natya' or dance is considered to be the finest and most
complete.


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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

New Muse for new normal - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

In ancient Greece, Muses were the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. Considered as the source of knowledge embodied in the poetry, lyric songs, and myths -- related orally for centuries in the Greek culture -- the nine Muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, figuring as personifications of knowledge and the arts. Out of them, Enterpe was the specific Muse for music, song and lyrical poetry, with a flute-like musical instrument as her symbol. Along with the Satyrs, she was supposed to have toured all Asia and Europe, teaching the arts wherever she went.


Apparently, Aditi Mangaldas, the renowned Kathak dancer with an international footprint and the trained performers from her Drishtikon Dance Foundation, did not quite accept the ugly visage of the rampaging monster of corona today at its face value. They set about the changing seasons experienced by each Drishtikon artist from the confines of their homes and yearned to interpret the seasons in the flight of their imagination to elucidate their feelings. They shot a film themselves -- with the help of their friends and family -- working within the limitations of the space they had and with whatever recording facilities they owned.

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