Wednesday 1 November 2023

Anita says...November 2023


(An excerpt)

No, we are not going to die
The sounds your hear
Knocking the windows and
Chipping the paint from the ceiling
That is a game
The world is playing
Our task is to crouch in the dark as long as we can
And count the beats of our own hearts

Sing. Sing louder
Those aren't boot steps
Those aren't sirens
Those aren't flames
Close your eyes.
Like chess. Like hide and seek
When this game is done you get another life.

By Joseph Fasano

It is a strange time to be talking and thinking about dance and art. But it is never a wrong time to reinforce our belief in the power of the creative soul to illuminate the darkest corner's hate.

We are smack in the midst of colourful festivals, filled social calendars, busy travel schedules and of course, the inevitable rehearsals and preparations for the annual cultural season in India and everywhere. The colours of autumn are at their glorious peak in North America and temperatures in India are beginning their downward dip. I am not including the Southern Hemisphere countries who are readying for SUMMER! (I still find it hard to adjust to that state of mind and body!)

It is the best time of the year and our international colleagues are beginning to arrive - now a trickle, but the momentum will gather steam in the coming weeks. Prepare for the deluge!

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  1. I completely agree with Anita about the need, whenever possible, to specify details like year of composition, composed for whom, premiered by whom and when as elements completing the credits attributed to a specific composition, specially if the item has become a classic often performed from generation to generation. These informations would be useful building blocks in the construction of a performing art history of the last two centuries. What I don’t agree upon is the licence to ‘re-imagine’ a handed down choreography attributed to a specific choreographer. I consider this trend a very dangerous one. After some time we will not be able to enjoy a traditional choreography in its original form. The process of ‘re-imaging’ is limitless; it can go from converting a solo dance into a group, or changing few details which does not suit the specific dancer upto the extent to re-making the entire dance sequence utilising the same melodic and rhythmic structure. Who gives the right to anybody to intervene in the creative process of an other artist? And would the same people who re-imagine be happy to see their own original creations ‘distorted’ or ‘re-imagined’ by somebody else? I am sure the guru-s who are no more and whose compositions are mostly utilised in this ‘re-imagination’ process would not at all be happy in seeing what has become of their so carefully taught and crafted creative endeavours. I am of the opinion that somebody’s else dance creation should not be tampered as we would not tamper with a Picasso painting or a Shakespeare sonetto. If we don’t agree with a particular composition let it be, don’t perform it , create your own but don’t pollute it. Let us respect each others thought process. Coming back to the item under review, the Sita Haran one, I believe Pratima was quite faithful to Guruji compositions and possibly must have handed down the same to Bijayini in its integrity so probably in this case the word ‘re-imagined’ may be misplaced.

  2. Well, Ramayan itself has been re-imagined and re-told. Do we consider Kamban or Tulasi Das to have "polluted" Valmiki's Ramayan? Or question Kamban or Tulasi as to who gave them the right? Why should re-imagination be considered a distortion? Artistic license cannot be confused with distortion. Was the original Ramayan itself a distortion of what really happened? Who knows. IMO, as long as the original is acknowledged, a piece of art can be re-imagined based on the artiste's life experiences and contemporary world views. It would be suffocating to build walls around compositions. Artistes have every right to perform as is or re-imagine. Re-imagining will not make the original disappear. Hopefully, Keluda's original choreography is recorded and archived for every one to see and enjoy his vision. If an artiste's work is reimagined, I would tend to beleieve that the artiste will feel proud that her idea had germinated other thought processes. Like increasing citations of your work if I may use scientific parlance. I am a rasika and not a dancer and these are just my 2c.