Sunday 24 March 2024

Men to the fore! - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

Rama Vaidyanathan, that dynamic all in one - dancer, teacher, choreographer, organiser, mother and mentor - has worked very, very hard to sustain a career in dance with family responsibilities, running a school, career and more. Today, Rama Vaidyanathan has also left a mark as the best Natya Kala Conference host with most outreach, acclaim and applause. Her students are now a legion, spread all over the world. Rama today ranks as numero uno in her generation of Bharatanatyam artistes.

So, when in the Swarna Saroja year - marked to peg 50 years is her saas-guru creation the Ganesa Natyalaya - she platformed 25 male dancers in one day, she created a new record in excellence, entertainment and engagement with art.

Male dancers have had an unusual history. Most first generation gurus, nattuvanars or gharana dancers were men. Even forms like Kuchipudi, Yakshagana, Sattriya and of course Kathakali had only male dancers. Then slowly the city-smart and college educated girls of Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata started taking to these and other classical forms. A trend started that slowly brought prakritis to the forefront and purush started getting relegated to the background. There were of course the couple dancers like Uday Shankar - Amala, US Krishna Rao - Chandrabagha Devi, Gopinath - Thankamani and Nataraj - Shakuntala. Next generation copied that idea of couple dancing or were inspired by above names and so we had the Dhananjayans, the Reddys, Singhajit Singh - Charu Sija Mathur, Thankamani - Govindan Kutty, Jayarama Rao -Vanashree Rao and more in many forms.

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  1. Very well coverd up the
    with so much simplicity & understanding with suggestions too for each artist..... Aashish ji always write from his heart.... ( satyam shivam sundara)
    It was like reliving the moments of entire day as I attended the festival.
    Congratulations to Ganesha natyalaya for organizing such significant festival for male dancers...πŸ™

  2. Really Amazing write up Ashish ji, specially Rama as Babu, Dancer, Choreographer, Guru.

  3. Harikrishna Kalyanasundaram25 March 2024 at 22:34

    In your impeccable style a beautiful review. This festival truly for male dancers kudos to RamajiπŸ’

  4. Here is one critic who speaks out his mind with elan. This is how healthy criticism should be. Unbiased and impressive.

  5. Respected Sir,
    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. They have been highly motivating to look within and work harder ahead. Your presence at the festival, your informative speech in the beginning and the end, and this detailed review, are all extremely warm. Thank you once again, and gratitude to Rama Mam, Kamesh sir and Ganesa Natyalaya family for this opportunity.
    With Regards
    Akshar Tekchandani