Saturday, 24 February 2018

Nritya Parva 2018 - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

The three day Nritya Parva 2018 was held at CC Mehta Hall, Baroda with performances by young dancers. The two day morning seminar was on Literature and Dance on first morning and on other topics the next morning. Parul Shah, disciple of late Anjali Merh and former Professor at Faculty of Performing Arts at MS University, has been arranging this festival at Baroda in Anjali Merh’s memory. The whole Nritya Parva 2018 is organised by Anjali Memorial Committee, Baroda, every year since 1981. The name to the festival was coined about 10 years before. 

This year the festival was dedicated to the memory of late Shanta Serbjeet Singh, senior cultural commentator and former Vice Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi. In the formal invitation there is an interesting quote of Shanta: “Slowly but inexorably, I believe, the wheel will come full circle. And it will move in that direction, because of two factors: one, the open-mindedness of our youth, almost 60% of the population, their hunger for discovering their roots. Look at the hordes of young people in the metros pursuing courses in even mediocre dance and music schools, lining up for auditioning for reality TV shows. You can see that, whatever their motivation at the start of their journey, they are going in the right direction. A new uninhibited relationship with dance is being forged by ordinary folk and they are returning to it in hundreds of ways as a mental, physical and spiritual anchor. Secondly, our culture is just too strong and too universally true to be put down.”

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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

From the foothills of Dhauli a bouquet of arts for peace and cooperation - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Started in 2003 as a Martial Arts Festival held in the open space within the verandah of the Peace Pagoda on the Dhauli hilltop in Odisha, the Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav's enlarged version now with its venue at the foothills, embracing dance and other performance traditions, has its greatest asset in bringing together several art disciplines like poetry, music, dance incorporating rural and classical traditions, martial arts, and above all for an animated active audience of over two thousand eagerly watching the proceedings on each of the three days (Feb 9-11, 2018). And this in an isolated place far from the capital of Bhubaneswar! With special buses arranged (courtesy Orissa Dance Academy under Aruna Mohanty, now organising the festival for Odisha Tourism, taking over from Ileana Citaristi, the original organiser of the martial arts festival at the hilltop) to ply to and from Bhubaneswar during the festival days, it is the young students from various colleges and training centres who form the audience - a very heartening trend and one not seen in other cities for dance events.

Dance comes as the final expression incorporating many disciplines, like poetry, music, rhythm, along with the consciousness of body lines depicted in sculpture and drawing - and in the Guru Gangadhar Pradhan Smruti Samman (in memory of late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan), the selection of awardees highlights this approach of recognising all inputs contributing to the dance. This year's selection had Dr. S.K. Tamotia (Dean, Director General and Vice Chairman of Bhavan's Centre for Communication and Management), Atulya Mahakud (lyricist, actor, script writer for Odiya cinema), Doordarshan and for dance, Dhaneswar Swain, the brilliant mardal expert whose contribution to dance is immeasurable, and Bhagiratha Das Odissi Bastra Karigara (designer and maker of costumes).

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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The making of Mahagami - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


How does a performing arts institution in India germinate, grow and gather momentum? What are its birth pangs like? How does it overcome the initial hurdles and hardships? What kind of planning process is called for at its multiple stages of progress, with a sampling of its products? And, can there be a final cheer alongside a cherished dream? Here is the connected story - from absolute nothing to a near pinnacle of sweet success of Mahagami Gurukul in Aurangabad, the heritage city of India, providing the gateway to Ajanta and Ellora.

At its core has to be a seed of demand-supply matching, even for performative arts which need to create its own environment. As a wit observed, "Culture is man-made environment." Within the 70-acre arid campus of Mahatma Gandhi Mission, its spirited Chairman had an early vision of a centre of technology, medicine, fine arts, dance, music and a lot besides. Einstein said once, "Visions are only hallucinations, until experimented." MGM Chairman and his Secretary - both staunch Gandhians and devout art-lovers - believed that education in its different forms could change the face of society and took on the daunting task to transform a barren land into a universally accepted learning centre where students from different shores would gather to get groomed in sundry disciplines.

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First edition of Kalaashish Dance Festival: Nritya Ganga - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


Asavari Pawar, daughter of London based celebrated Kathak exponent Pratap Pawar, the first gandabandh shishya of Pandit Birju Maharaj, organized under the aegis of Kalaashish, a dance festival at Delhi's ICCR Azad Bhavan auditorium featuring late Kathak exponent Arjun Mishra's son Anuj Mishra and his troupe, Belgium based Odissi, Bharatanatyam and contemporary dancer Sooraj Subramaniam and Polish modern dancer Andre Kamienski, and leading Seraikella Chhau dancer Shashadhar Acharya and his troupe in a two day festival. 

On the first day, it was Asavari's father Pratap Pawar who performed traditional Kathak. He has turned 70 and in his honour Asavari began this new institution with a series of performances. On second day, she began with Shiva stuti displaying the technique she has mastered under guidance of her father. She has a charming and endearing personality, free from any attitude and displays a certain range of innocence. In Bhairavi Tillana choreographed by Pratap Pawar, her troupe excelled in performing energetic Kathak with aplomb. 

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Thursday, 15 February 2018

G. M. Sarma (1936-2017): A tribute - Madhavi Puranam


We condole the sad demise of our founder publisher, Garikapati Muralidhar Sarma (April 2, 1936-Dec 18, 2017), the brain and the prime mover of Nartanam. I do not quote the great bard when I say that G.M.Sarma garu, as he was popularly known, was a man who was "born great" and also "achieved greatness"; Sarma was such. He was born with a suave and sensitive persona, which possessed an innate love for arts. He attained greatness with a finer sensibility of a connoisseur who served as an altruistic patron of Kuchipudi and dance at large. But his was an unsung greatness. 

You cannot find him on google and there is nothing written about him anywhere. He was a man not connected with dance in any way other than being an interested spectator. 

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Rediscovering a scholarly legacy - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


Indian performing arts traditions are remarkably rich in scholarly treaties. Placed around the onset of Christian era, Bharata’s Naṭya Shastra is probably the earliest known arts compendium in the world and notable as an ancient encyclopedic treatise that influenced dance, music and literary traditions in India. Its text comprised 36 chapters with a cumulative total of 6,000 poetic verses describing performing arts and inspired secondary literature of Sanskrit Bhashyas(reviews and commentaries), as compiled by Abhinava Gupta in the 10th century and by Nandideva in the 10-11th century. Nandikeshvara, regarded by many as a rival of Bharata, was the author of Abhinaya Darpana (The Mirror of Gestures) in the 2nd century, used often as a reference text for both Bharatanatyam and Kathak today. Matanga’s Brihaddeshi, pertaining to Indian classical music and written in 6th-8th centuries, was the first treatise that spoke directly of the raga and distinguished the classical (margi) and the folk (desi). It also introduced Sargam notation, discussing musical scales and micro-tonal intervals, as clarifications of Natya Shastra on which its author had based his work.

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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

National seminar on Music and Dance and Kathak Museum - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


Bhatkhande Deemed University, Lucknow, organized a two day national seminar (Jan 28 & 29, 2018) on training and presentation of classical Indian music and dance arranged on their premises. Shruti Sadolikar Katkar, the celebrated Hindustani vocalist of Jaipur -Atrauli gharana is the present Vice Chancellor. Under her dynamic leadership, the University has undertaken several projects and once again placed the Bhatkhande Deemed University on the cultural map of India. Established by Shri Bhatkhande in1920, it has been an important centre of classical Hindustani music. Bhatkhande used to say that even if we cannot produce many Tansens, we can produce hundreds of Kansens, the connoisseurs of classical music. His epoch making work is well known. 

Lucknow with its cultural history is a major centre for training and promoting classical Indian Hindustani music and also dance. At the University besides Kathak, training is also given in Bharatanatyam and Manipuri. Lucknow has been the main centre for Lucknow gharana of Kathak with a long history.

The seminar had a specific focus on the training and performance of classical music and dance. Shruti Sadolikar in her keynote address placed forth main conceptual norms for training of classical music. Right from the riyaz - practice of music - how it has to be dealt with.

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