Tuesday 26 July 2022

Interview - An imaginary interview with Guru Gopinath - Part 13 - Tapati Chowdhurie

Master, what are the Kathakali veshams you performed after becoming a dancer?

At the request of Poet Vallathol Narayana Menon, I performed in the role of Duryodhana in Utthara Swayamvaram in full Kathakali vesham at the literary conference (Sahithya Parishad Sammelanam) in Kizhuthani. I performed in the birth centenary celebrations of Mathur Kunju Pillai Panicker aasan at Nedumudi Kottaram (palace). On the Chairman of Kerala Kalamandalam D.H. Nambudirippad's request, I performed in Kerala Kalamandalam. At the request of Abhedanandaswamy I performed in his ashram in Thiruvananthapuram. I have also performed at a program in the Kathakali club of Thiruvananthapuram and at the Karthika Thirunal theatre on the request of TR Sukumaran Nair. I did the role of the handsome Brahman (Sundara Brahmanan) of Rukmini Swayamvaram.

All in all, I have performed five times in Kathakali veshams. Though many a times I have been invited for a Kathakali show, I haven't accepted those requests.

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Sunday 24 July 2022

Transformative Transitions - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Rarely it happens that a show or space leaves one transformed. Please understand for some of us, watching 300 shows a year, in different cities, for last 50 years is a huge palette to even be coming from or compare with. So when one says two shows stood out for their transformative quality then believe me, it is true.

First was an innocuous, small hall, very popular of late in a traditional neighbourhood of namma Bengaluru. Seva Sadan in Malleswaram (the first half Mal is what makes Malgudi Days of R.K.Narayan fame, the second half - gudi - coming from another very old and traditional area called Basavangudi) is actually part of a school / orphanage. Many shows take place here in the last ten years.

When Arundhati Patwardhan and Manasi Jog performed here, arranged by singer-dancer Padmini, an ace student of dance icon of Bharatanatyam in Maharashtra, guru Sucheta Bhide-Chapekar, then the hall was spellbound. Was it theatre, was it dance, was it a musical? It was natya in totality. And the two were in total sync, art wise.

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Friday 22 July 2022

Profile - Kalpana: A Bharatanatyam dancer in Paris - Éliane Béranger

From an early age, Kalpana was influenced by the spirit of tradition, the western one. Both her parents were musicians, amateurs with a high level. Kalpana's birth name is Martine Métayer, and she was born in Paris. She duly learned flute for several years in a conservatoire. Her sister is a professional cello player.

When Martine discovered Bharatanatyam by taking part in Malavika's workshop (1977), she faced a totally new and unexpected form of art where dance, theatre, music and poetry merged and offered a full aesthetic and intimate experience. After some classes with Malavika and Shakuntala she felt she had found the path she would follow for life. Moreover, starting from this moment she could explore the subtlety and the tiny nuances between two ways of practicing the same style.

At first, she managed to afford on her own, a short stay with Guru Muthuswamy Pillai (1980). She gained confidence that Bharatanatyam was the place where she felt alive. Two years later she obtained a scholarship (ICCR India and Ministry of Foreign Affairs - France). She could finally stay for several years in India, during which she was lucky enough to learn singing with Kamakshi Kuppuswamy and abhinaya with Kalanidhi Narayanan.

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Wednesday 20 July 2022

Interview - T Reddi Lakshmi: It was either money or contentment and I chose the latter - Vijay Shanker

New Delhi based Kuchipudi exponent T Reddi Lakshmi is one of the foremost disciples of renowned Kuchipudi exponents and mentors, Gurus Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao who have trained several students. Lakshmi holds the distinction of being among the most brilliant and has already performed in 17 countries. Lakshmi talks about her devotion to the dance form and her varied experiences as a performer and teacher.

Lakshmi will be performing in Mumbai for the Raindrops Festival for young dancers at Nalanda's Kanak Sabha in Juhu on Saturday July 23rd at 6.30pm.

What attracted you to dance?
Learning classical dance was my childhood dream. I was always attracted to classical dance and music naturally and my father T.S. Viswanadham made my dream come true by finding an institute to learn classical dance when I moved to Delhi for higher studies.

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Monday 11 July 2022

Obit/Tribute - Tribute to G Ulaganathan - senior editor and journalist - Priyamvadha Murali

The revered critic G Ulaganathan's contribution to dance reviews and his critical observations of a dancer were always marked with constructive comments. His subtle and sensitive feedback always brought out a "thinking dancer" to harness his/her energies and strengths towards a possible improvisation in techniques in their upcoming performances.

His love for his hometown Thanjavur was evident with pictures and posts he shared on social media. Every time he visited Thanjavur, he would ensure he visited Melattur, the home of the Bhagavata Mela tradition and he would drop by to meet his dear friend Melattur S Natarajan. It was during one of those sessions over a cup of hot filter coffee on a rainy evening, he happened to see the children of the village coming from varied socio-economic backgrounds being groomed in Bharatanatyam by Guru S Natarajan. These were the disciples from Bhagavata Mela Vidyalaya, the brain child of this legendary guru who envisioned that every child coming from this culturally rich village should experience the divinity and bliss of the art form he practiced and taught them all for free.

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Sunday 10 July 2022

Article - Ashta Nayika and Disney heroines - Tejsree Bhangeeruthee Beharee

Who does not like a good Walt Disney story? 

Ashta Nayika is an important concept in Indian classical dance. Ashta means eight and Nayika means heroines, thus the eight heroines. In this article, heroine is referred to as a lady in love: her association with a man in an amorous way, whether it is in union or separation. When we talk about love and relationships, it is often accompanied by a feeling of joy, but there is also the aspect of pain. According to sage Bharata Muni, in his book Natya Shastra, there are 8 types of women in love.

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Thursday 7 July 2022

Book Review - Bharatanatyam Workbook 1 - Lavanyaa Surrender

SERIES: Listen. Read. Choreograph

TITLE: Bharatanatyam Workbook 1
AUTHOR: Dr. Pranitha J Kamat (kamat.pranitha@gmail.com)
YEAR: 2020
PUBLISHER: Vedathek Publishing House, Bangalore, India
ISBN: 978-81-9467-750-5

The 'Bharatanatyam Workbook 1' from the 'Listen. Read. Choreograph' series by Natya Chittra is an A5 sized book with black and white pages. The crisp foreword highlighting the importance and advantages of the concept in the book is written by Acharya V.P. Dhananjayan. The introductory sheets are short texts on the purpose, how to use, scope and limitations of the workbook. Before diving into the workbook, the author gives an illustration on how to use the book, a chart referring to transliteration of the terminologies used and also an adavu guide that briefly summarizes all the Bharatanatyam adavus.

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Friday 1 July 2022

Anita says...July 2022

 "I am nearly 75 years old. I live in freedom in an extraordinary city and worry about my former home and my mother's grave in (former Soviet) Latvia. This is Putin's war, not Russia's battle. I am not afraid to speak out and address Putin directly. This cycle of hate and fear cannot last."

- Ballet icon and choreographer MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV in a television interview from New York.

Everything seems be on fire. Ideas. Ethics. Morality codes. Our words and actions.
Violence in several ways. Bloodshed through hatchets or by the gavel of the law.

In these turbulent and troubling times, we, the community of performing artistes, need to ask ourselves why we do what we do. Does it merely have a meaning for us, for our spirits and our souls? Is it a mere palliative, dousing us with self importance and creating an echo chamber for those who are willing to gather at our feet? Does beauty have power? Does the act of art making have a purpose beyond spreading positivity and hope? Is that not enough by itself?

Being away from home and the country creates a shift inside your being. I have found that from the moment I sit in my airplane seat, my mind begins to wander - forwards and backwards. What has just occurred and what is to unfold. I also find myself searching for WHERE I locate myself in the world of the Performing Arts. As someone who does not qualify as a "busy dancer" or a "teacher/guru" in the traditional sense of the word, I question myself as to "why" I continue on the path that I have chosen. And then something happens, a stranger approaches me in flight or during transit from another land, and the compliments spring forth about a work, a comment I have made on social media or a video they have watched during the pandemic. The self belief returns, stronger than ever, and I am smiling - inside.

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