Friday 26 February 2021

Colors of classical choreography - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


Purnaya, the young dancers' festival, organized on February 7, 2021 by Manipuri Nartanalaya, admirably supported by Manipur government and conducted by Bimbavati Devi, the talented daughter of Guru Bipin Singh - in a brand new, pocket-size auditorium dedicated to the memory of the recently departed, celebrated dance and theatre person, Usha Ganguly-presented four well-trained youthful artistes. 

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Tuesday 23 February 2021

Profile - Kalamandalam Sankara Warrier: An exceptional genius - V Kaladharan

Last century witnessed the immaculate artistry of immensely talented Maddalam players in the aforesaid genres. Of them, Kalamandalam Sankara Warrier is an exceptional genius. He redrew the contours of Maddalam in Kathakali by means of his remarkable faculties - an acute musical sensibility, an intimate understanding of the visual dynamics, virtuosity, internalization of the textual and the contextual emotions and an irrepressible urge to transcend the traditional frontiers of this indigenous percussion instrument.

Warrier, on completion of his training at Kalamandalam, secured the post of an instructor there. He toured, as member of the Kathakali troupe, cultural hubs in India and abroad, in the 1970's. Following a sterling performance in Mumbai/London, the then British PM, Margaret Thatcher, a VVIP invitee, went on stage and generously complimented Warrier's wizardry. (Margaret Thatcher and Maddalam. What an oxymoron!).

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Monday 22 February 2021

Article - Emerging cultural economics in dance - Navina Jafa

 (The theme was earlier commissioned by The Hindu, and the article repositions the wider frame of argument presented in the version earlier published. The main issue being initiatives by dancers to envision sustainability for performing communities and individuals beyond their own selves and their individual 'company' in the present challenging circumstances.)

The dancers in India have endured economic and sociological existential challenges during the Covid pandemic. Classical/ folk in urban and rural geographies have adopted imaginative journeys to revise, reconstruct, reinvent, re-educate, and reposition to align with emerging modernity. A new dynamic is the fast emerging parallel existence of a vibrant online with a limited and shrinking space of presenting dance and performing arts offline. The other issue is the manner cultural leaders in dance engaged in the performing arts are going beyond themselves and their organization. The matter is on the manner these cultural leaders are creating new dance networks to build and reposition in the changing times by providing hope, sustainability and second how these same leaders in performing arts are stretching to contribute to the performing arts to other performance communities.

Crucial in the discourse is bringing models that present hope towards sustainability of performing arts and artists. There has to be cognition of creating realistic frameworks that reflect strategies to reconnect with markets and are mindful of new audiences (consumers) in the dual existence of off and online performative spaces.

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Sunday 21 February 2021

Tribute - Remembering Rukmini Devi - A Woman of Substance on her 117th birth anniversary - VP Dhananjayan

An orator with amazing English vocabulary and attractive personality, Rukmini Devi Arundale is a wonder woman of the century. A school dropout with academic excellence, who almost made it to the highest office of the country Bhaarat... A leap year baby (1904 to 1986), she was an exemplary woman of substance.

This old saying in Samskritam varies with positive and negative interpretations. Actually the essence of the connotation and its deeper meaning is very positive to say that women at any time should be protected by society. Yes, our epics, mythology and history have abundant stories with evidence to prove that Bhaarata naari were well respected and protected, yet there are incidents of humiliation they suffered on account of male chauvinism. After our independence from our invaders, a drastic attitude change became visible within our own society. Until then the question of atrocities on women did not arise and they did survive equally with their counterparts. One such example was Rukmini Devi Arundale - a beacon of light guiding a nation's cultural ethos for generations to come.

She did not believe in formal academic education but education in the real sense of refining oneself with discipline, devotion and dedication. She often quoted, "Academic degree or education without character is body without head." Art and culture are the inseparable aspects of human life and art fosters and nurtures the 'samskaara' (culture) of men and women for a happy life of beauty without vulgarity in thoughts and actions. Rukmini Devi did not believe in feminist liberation theory or such movements; she had no problem of independence, a free woman of individuality and freedom of thoughts. She achieved what many men could not.

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Thursday 18 February 2021

Nrityaparva 2021 dedicated to lately departed stalwarts - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Travails of Covid 19 apart, this year of the pandemic has seen the dance community lose some of its most coveted contributors in different fields of art scholarship and practice. Substituting the customary performance glitz and dedicating Nrityaparva 2021to the much-mourned departed souls of Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Phillip Zarrilli, Astad Deboo and Dr. Sunil Kothari, was a fitting, sensitive gesture. Conceived, coordinated and executed by Anjali Memorial Committee, the three day virtual event was supported by the Alumni Affairs and Donors Relation of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and the ICCR Gujarat.

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Monday 15 February 2021

Chiaroscuro of classical cadenza - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


The pall of gloom seems to be lifting from this metropolis - as indeed from many other sites in India - at long last in the New Year and "the normal" is thankfully set to regain its hold from the "new normal". Such seems to be the case in the three prosceniums that find favors by the dancers here: the three auditoria of ICCR, EZCC and Gyan Manch in the descending order of their capacity. And the crowd seems to be flocking back to them, bringing such sighs of relief to the performing community, weary of the past deadening of pace!

Ananta (the Infinite) presented on January 9 by 'Darpani' as their silver jubilee offering, directed by the noted Odissi and Bharatanatyam dancer Arnab Bandyopadhyay (and very professionally anchored by Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee), was quite an eye-catching affair with a few luminaries from the dance world. 

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Thursday 11 February 2021

Prism - Chidaakaasham: Myriad Expressions of Art (Day 2) - A.M.Hari Shankar


The second day’s session started with another super set of artistes and scholars.

The organizers Prof. Deepti Omchery Bhalla and Dr. Padmaja Suresh expressed their vote of thanks to all the participants and scholars as the session concluded. The two day brain storming webinar found its purpose with quite a large number of participants actively involved in 3 to 4 hours per day of these sessions. Seminars of this repute serve as the milestones especially for the young upcoming generation to pursue art with utmost importance and responsibility.

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Obit/Tribute - Veteran critic Satish Mehta no more - Vijay Shanker

Veteran dance critic, Mumbai based Satish Mehta, left for his heavenly abode, on the afternoon on 9th February 2021, after a heart attack. He was 86 and a bachelor, who lived in Virar, one of the western suburbs of Mumbai, during his later years in a rented flat. He was a Gujarati, was connected with several cultural organizations and would regularly attend dance festivals around India and abroad, in spite of his physical handicap of polio in one of his legs.

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Obit/Tribute - Modernity to Bansi Kaul was to reinvent - Dr. S D Desai

Theatre offers a modest space. Working within it, a genius of a theatre person sees vistas illumined in front of him, at times limitless. Bansi Kaul (23 Aug 1949 - 6 Feb 2021) was one such genius. Born in Srinagar, he studied at the National School of Drama, became director of its Repertory Company and later joined its faculty. Then came the time when the work he did gave him identity - he formed 'Rang Vidushak' (1986) in Bhopal that remained rooted in traditions not yet integrated into the mainstream theatre. As art director for Khajuraho and prestigious national festivals abroad and at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, he projected the theme of Indigenous Indian Culture putting aside a mere entertaining spectacle.

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Wednesday 10 February 2021

Prism - Chidaakaasham: Myriad Expressions of Art (Day 1) - Hari Shankar

Last year had been a tough time for the entire mankind, especially, when it comes to the fraternity of artists and art lovers, it was annus horribilis. But nothing could stop the art enthusiasts and practitioners from getting themselves involved during this challenging time with some contribution to the field of their expertise. To everyone's surprise, there evolved a new idea of conducting online festivals and webinars. Even though the performing artists would not be able to do a complete justice to their presentations, leaving both the performers and the connoisseurs dissatisfied due to the unavoidable technical constraints at both the ends, webinars turned out to be a well-accepted and well-participated cultural affair.

In 2018, a remarkable national seminar on Mohiniattam titled 'Kaisiki Vritti', after 60 glorious years of the All India Dance Seminar (1958), where Mohiniattam had its first time national level exposure was organized by Trikalaa Gurukulam, a pioneer organization in Delhi under the aegis of Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi. This time, Trikalaa Gurukulam in collaboration with Aatmalaya Academy, Bangalore, organized Chidaakaasham, a two-day International Webinar (Dec 26 & 27, 2020) featuring eminent artistes, scholars, academicians from Indian universities, institutions abroad who enlightened the audience with their talks and performances on a wide array of topics that focused on rare metric patterns, rhythmic combinations in various genres of music and dance, both classical and folk, pan Indian, western music, Indian philosophy and rituals.

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Monday 8 February 2021

Dancers' sojourn in distressed days - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Mahagami Gurukul, the unique performing arts institution of its kind, has now grown into a branch of MAHAGAMI University, having completed 20 years of a flourishing existence in 2017. Since then every year, past and present students converged from faraway places to be part of this celebration. Past students from USA, Brazil, Austria, Argentina, Delhi, Bangalore, Kochi, Pune, etc. travelled to Mahagami to be part of the dance offering, VAYAM (I, we) that aimed at celebrating their attachment with the Gurukul.

In 2021, due to the long months of lockdown, the Mahagami team led by their gifted director Parwati Dutta, came up with an online version of the VAYAM festival with an aim to encouraging talented dancers and celebrating the spirit of dance even in the existing restrictions. She had been artistically active since the beginning of lockdown in mid-March 2020 and had designed, curated and initiated a variety of projects and immersions in the past 9 months. Dance immersions were aimed at re-igniting the learners' minds towards form making abilities of dance movements, creating dance motifs and metaphors, and internalising multiple facades of dance. She immersed herself in the sudden silence around in the Gurukul and came up with a range of new compositions - from a Sanskrit ditty glorifying a blossom, to re-looking at taal Rupak from the perspective of the sound-form dialogue, a pada by Nanda Das describing spring time love frolics, to a highly imaginative Krishna Tandava (pure dance in Odissi) in which the divine dance of Krishna was imagined as if he wandered in the silent pathways of Mahagami! Indeed, the sculpted gardens and decorative motifs on all the buildings of the Gurukul provided a fascinatingly varied and picturesque backdrop of the 2021 virtual programme of VAYAM.

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Tuesday 2 February 2021

Two titans and their travelogues - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda have been two illustrious icons of our land, who were born only two years apart (1861 and 1863) and both within the perimeters of north Kolkata, but they seldom met. With their ideas and ideologies, they went their own eventful sojourns through life, remaining far away from each other. While Tagore lived a long and fruitful span of eight decades, Vivekananda blazed his trail over just thirty-six years, before coming to rest his mortal remains in Kolkata, not too far from where Tagore would breathe his last. It is interesting to look at what, very broadly, they held in common in their upbringing as well as in their future world views....

Rabi Kare Bibek Jyoti (Vivekananda Illumined with Tagore's Aura) presented on January 16 by 'Srijan Chhanda' under the noted Odissi dancer Rajiv Bhattacharjee - incidentally as their first venture on proscenium stage coming out of the thralldom of covid virus- attempted to place Tagore and Vivekananda side by side.

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Monday 1 February 2021

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - February 2021


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Anita says...February 2021

 Are we in February already?

The days continue to whirl by and the blur of the hours passing seem almost like a monotonous hum. How long can we continue to pretend that dance and the breathing, dancing body can find a hybrid space via the digital platform?

Meanwhile, there has been quite a ferment in politics and art.
As the Capitol building was stormed in Washington DC by white supremacists, India's national flag was dishonoured by a group of protesting farmers on Republic Day.

Rumbles in Andhra land as Kuchipudi dancers resist attempts to prevent their paid recordings from being used for online performances.

Collaborations across communities in 20th century Tamilnadu occurred even during the seismic events of the independence struggle. An occasional series begins this month.

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