Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Encouraging audiences for the ticketed Divinity Series - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman



For long, one has heard persons declaring from varied platforms that dance performances thrown open for free to the public at large over the years, has not just devalued the art, but also spoilt audiences, almost creating in them a feeling of entitlement. Little, however, has been done to change the situation. In the circumstances, taking the plunge to make a ticketed show of the 'Divinity Series' (held this year from April 6 - 8 at the Habitat Stein Auditorium, Delhi) annually mounted by Jyotsna Shourie Dance Centre, was a step in the right direction - and on the second and third evenings I attended, the satisfyingly full auditorium was reassuring that having to pay was no deterrent, provided the concerned event held promise of quality performances. One heard from the organiser that even on the first evening featuring a known Delhi artist Vidha Lal (in what till now has been a Bharatanatyam oriented festival) there was a decent sized audience with over a hundred tickets sold.

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Monday, 24 April 2017

Kumudini Lakhia on crisis in Kathak - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


Raza Foundation presented Guru Kumudini Lakhia’s lecture on ‘Kathak in our times’ at Habitat Centre, New Delhi. Introducing the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Memorial Lecture, Ashok Vajpeyi, the Managing Trustee of Raza Foundation, spoke about paucity of performing dancers who are thinkers and can articulate the issues of the art form they are engaged in. The first lecture organized under this series was by Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam. And after few years interval now the Foundation has invited Kumudini Lakhia. She has earned a reputation as a thinker, engaged in the art form, raising the bar of the traditional form of Kathak and contemporizing it with innovations.

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Article - On watching Malavika Sarukkai’s Vamatara: To the Light - Vikram Iyengar


If ever I was able to watch only one Bharatanatyam performer from the hundreds that exist, I would choose Malavika Sarukkai without batting an eyelid. Of course, after making that choice, the eyelid would bat crazily questioning why such a straitened situation existed at all. Similarly, soon after I began to breathe in the magic she created through primarily her own dancing in Vamatara: To the Light, niggling doubts began to assail me as to how to read the work and the professed content in our present-day scenario.

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Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Effects of chronic stress on performance - Ishika Sachdev

Think of the endocrine system as the hormonal hard drive. All the organs that make up the endocrine system, produce, store, retrieve and communicate with hormones that control and coordinate processes or activities all through the body. When this system is in balance, our hormones go on doing their respective jobs to maintain homeostasis. 

Now what happens in the presence of a stressor? 
Our blood sugar levels crash -> our adrenal glands fire cortisol (aka the stress hormone) -> our livers produce and release more glucose -> our blood sugar levels rise and our blood sugar balance is maintained. 

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Not just anyBODY: a health and fitness monthly column - Health Recipes 12: Bergedel Jagung - Uma Pushpanathan


Serves: 15 pieces
Per Serving: 143 calories per 100 gms
Cooking and Presentation Time: 45 minutes

View the recipe in the site

Interview - Dr. S. Vasudevan: Dance and music are like body and soul - Shveta Arora


Dr. S. Vasudevan, a disciple of Dr. Vyjayanthimala Bali and Jayalakshmi Ishwar, performed alongside Vanashree Rao at the Festival of Creative Choreographies held in Delhi last month. Vasudevan is a well-known Carnatic musician and vocalist, and on stage, I have seen him among the musicians more often than taking the stage as a dancer. After a rousing Bharatanatyam performance, I spoke to him about being both dancer and musician, and he explained that the division is more a modern phenomenon.

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A limitless lustre of love - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


It is not unusual among people the world over to perpetuate the memory of the dear departed, make efforts to compose tributes, build tombs and memorials, and initiate festivals in fond remembrance.  Poets have composed countless odes to the deceased and even expressed yearnings to let them reappear just once more. Kadambari Devi, Tagore’s sister-in-law and his childhood companion for long, was so close to the poet that in his lifelong creative oeuvre, the shadow of the beautiful lady always loomed large, her pensive eyes appeared in face after mysterious face in hundreds of paintings that he drew after some five decades since her unfortunate death by suicide, and his numerous letters and prose compositions carried a vision of pain and penance that he could never get over. 

It was not surprising, therefore, to find yet another artistic soul, Ashimbandhu Bhattacharjee, the noted Kathak exponent from Kolkata – who lost his mother about a year back – to have discovered the umbilical cord too dear to have been snapped so suddenly and needed a whole year to come to terms with the debilitating loss. Through this year he built an abstract theme named poignantly as Ananta – a lustrous garland of aesthetic grandeur that he wove to depict his own endless journey seeking his mother -- and invited other artistes to share their thoughts and build their own memorabilia.

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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Sanjali’s tribute on Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra’s 13th death anniversary - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


On 7th April on the 13th death anniversary of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, his disciple Sharmila Mukerjee presented Pravaha as tribute at ADA Rangamandira in Bangalore. She has been organizing it every year for past ten years. This year she had worked on the character of Kaikeyi from Ramayana, inviting Pandit Nityananda Mishra to write the libretto in Sanskrit. It was a book of English poems which had set her thinking about the royal queen of Dasharatha. She felt that perhaps Kaikeyi is the most misunderstood character in Valmiki’s epic Ramayana. She wanted to go beyond stereotyping her as an evil queen and explore various shades of her character. She went to Bhubaneswar and met Nityananda Mishra who responded with enthusiasm to her proposal and wrote the libretto which was set to music in Ragamalika and Talamalika by Bijay Jena, with rhythm by Dhaneswar Swain.

The production began with Kaikeyi’s old age, reminiscing about her earlier life as a warm hearted, complex woman, who loved Rama as much as her own son Bharata. She was a warrior, brave woman, who had on battlefield at the right moment helped King Dasharatha and saved him.


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In a different tone: Amorous Delight presents a challenging theatre of love - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


Pickling for over a decade in the minds of Ramli Ibrahim of Kuala Lumpur's Sutra Foundation and late Dinanath Pathy, art historian / painter et al of Odisha, Sutra Foundation's Amorous Delight, a group work based on the 9th century Sanskrit love poetry Amarushatakam traces its seed inspiration to the palm leaf manuscript illustrations based on this text by the unknown Sharnakula master of Odisha's Nayagarh district, the rare copy of which in the Zurich Museum Rietberg, Ramli Ibrahim happened to see. Late Dinanath Pathy and Dr. Eberhard Fischer of the Museum had collaborated on a book jointly authored on Amarushatakam

Ruminating over the challenges of such flagrant erotic verses on sambhoga and vipralambha sringar as base for a work in what has justifiably been called 'Contemporary Odissi', Amorous Delight draws on blended creative energies from Odisha and Malaysia - with late Dinanath Pathy himself as the visual and literary consultant, and with the musical base provided by Odisha's top artistes. Working with the dancers of Sutra Foundation was Odissi dancer Meera Das whose dance composition along with Ramli Ibrahim's group choreography aesthetics with artistic direction, designed this effort.

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Friday, 14 April 2017

Nritya Sanrachna: A festival of choreographic works - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


Under the aegis of Sangeet Natak Akademi, Jawaharlal Nehru Manipuri Dance Academy and Manipur University a festival of choreographic works by leading dancers and choreographers from different states of India was arranged at Imphal from 22nd till 26th March 2017 at the new Maharaja Chandrakirti Auditorium, Manipur University. I missed first two days’ performances of Sharmila Biswas and her artists of Odissi Vision and Movement Centre, Kolkata, who had presented new work Trividh, a revival of choreographic work of legendary late Raj Kumar Priyogopalsana of Imphal, viz., Kabui-Kei-Oiba, and Prathibha Prahlad’s Silk Sutra. I had recently seen Vanashree Rama Rao’s Kalpakatha, dramatic tales from mythologies, at Khajuraho Dance Festival.

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Rasa theory facilitates holistic approach to school education - Chandra Anand

Holistic development of all students is the aim of education systems universally. Accordingly, education is focused on not only intellectual and physical development of students, but also their moral and emotional development. In fact, today's trend is to introduce teaching and learning methods where all aspects of students' personalities develop in an integrated manner. And, one such opportunity is seen through arts education which is being considered for inclusion in the main curriculum of schools. As a matter of fact, the aesthetic theory of arts facilitates a holistic approach to teaching academic subjects too.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Article - King Shivaji II, the last king of Thanjavur - Prince Pratap Sinha Raje Bhosle

The 185th death anniversary of multifaceted scholar King Serfoji II fell on 8th March 2017. His funeral had been attended by lakhs of people. His son, King Shivaji II of Thanjavur, authored Marathi drama ‘Natesa Vilasa,’ an excellent piece of Marathi literature based on ancient Sanskrit type of dramas and natakas.

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Impresario India gamely carries on - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


Despite obstacles in procuring sponsorship, Impresario India mounted the nineteenth edition of its annual choreographic festival, National Festival of Creative Arts, on March 21 and 22 at Stein Auditorium, Delhi. For the curtain raiser was Kuchipudi performer and teacher Vanashree Rao reinventing herself, in her latest discovery as  group choreographer, harnessing a mixture of dance forms - Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Chhau. Rasa United, her group also has the able cooperation of Dr. S. Vasudevan wearing many hats as Bharatanatyam dancer/teacher/music composer/ nattuvangam specialist and choreographer. In partnership with vocalist K. Venkateshwaran, the two provide the musical scaffolding for Vanashree’s productions. 

Starting with the Tripura Samhara episode from the Shivapuranam, the entry saw dance visualization in Chhau with masked dancers Kuleswar Thakur, Anuraj Khichi, Prashant and Arjundev, with the ‘Tom Na’ syllables and alap in Revati, freezing in difficult contortionist yogic postures, impersonating Tarakasura’s three asura sons, whose uncontrolled might, thanks to Brahma’s boon of immortality, is finally crushed and destroyed by Shiva. After holding formations, requiring a balancing feat, the three strut around to Hathya Dhara movements.  With Mount Meru as chariot and Vasuki as the string to the bow and Vishnu himself as the arrow, with the graceful Kuchipudi dancers Ayona, Ranjini, Moutushi, Gulddin Sultana and with Vanashree as Shiva, enters the chariot in style and the end comes swiftly with Shiva catching the asuras in a row and killing them. One distinguishing feature of the group is having young expressive dancers (Chhau and Kuchipudi) endowed with fine stage presence as well.

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Moods, Movements and Melodies - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


Contemporary dance scenario in India's Eastern metropolis, much in keeping with its Western counterparts in the current decades, has kept agog the spectators' interest. Keeping itself painstakingly away from the captivating panorama of the classical choreographic creations and the latter's diligent attention paid to Indian mythology, the contemporary dance has sought - with an ever-increasing span of attention - to discover new themes and attract non-traditional viewers to their fold. 

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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Revisiting Ratan Thiyam’s Urubhangam - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


Thirty seven years ago in November 1980, visiting Imphal, Manipur, for a dance conference with Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya, Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan and Usha Malik, by sheer fortuitous circumstances I saw Bhasa’s play Urubhangam in Meitei language directed by Ratan Thiyam. It was an eye opener. Today, Ratan Thiyam has acquired global appreciation for his outstanding theatre productions under the banner of Chorus Repertory Theatre. In all departments his theatre breathes perfection. A troupe of gifted Manipuri actors who know dance, music, singing, martial arts under Ratan’s watchful direction deliver excellent results.

Known as theatre of roots in the eighties, there was a movement to look at our traditional Sanskrit theatre, its construction, abhinaya as per the principles mentioned in Natyashastra, use of vachikabhinaya, movements, dance, music, aharya, costumes, and imaginative light designing, use of few props and seek continuity. Among them, late K.N. Panicker from Kerala and Ratan Thiyam from Manipur, worked in that direction producing outstanding Sanskrit theatre that illuminated the theory of Rasa as enunciated in Bharata’s Natyashastra.  

Ratan Thiyam chose Bhasa’s play Urubhangam getting it translated into Meitei-Manipuri language by A. Krishna Mohan Sharma. I had studied Bhasanatakachakra, the plays of Bhasa, during my studies of Sanskrit for MA degree and was familiar with the original Sanskrit text. Therefore, the Meitei language did not pose any problem. But Ratan’s design, music and direction were so eloquent that even when audience does not follow the dialogue, the sheer visual appeal of the production and abhinaya by the actors communicate a lot.

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Friday, 7 April 2017

Contemporary dance expressions beckon - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


Costume designer Sandhya Raman’s studio in Ladu Serai, became the venue for an informal and unusual evening of Collisions, comprising movement exploration in contemporary dance, substantiated by a dialogue involving three reputed people in the dance world – Shirley Mordine from the United States, Bharatanatyam dancer Hema Rajagopalan settled in the United States - and Indian Contemporary dancer Astad Deboo, the third participant in this triangle. Interestingly, Shirley  who has  worked with Bharatanatyam dancers and collaborated with Hema in a few of Hema’s earlier productions, is unique in being drawn to the expressional aspect of Bharatanatyam - which dancers , specially contemporary dancers in the west, are least drawn to.  Collision (of which this is the second interaction) contrary to the generally understood connotation of the term referring to colliding forces, refers to varying cultural expressions coming together in interactions that enrich. Hema Rajagopalan called her work Sahridaya (meaning empathetic), which perhaps expresses for the Indian mind, the idea behind this effort better.

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Rachana Yadav received training in Kathak under Guru Ravi Jain and later on worked with Aditi Mangaldas, receiving further training under her as a member of Aditi's Drishtikon Dance Foundation, performing in the company for more than a decade. She also received training under Jaikishan Maharaj, son of Birju Maharaj, in Lucknow gharana. She has established Rachana Yadav Kathak Studio and has a troupe with which she has been presenting her own choreographic works.

She is the daughter of the celebrated Hindi authors Mannu Bhandari and Rajendra Yadav. Rachana also writes in Hindi and for the choreographic work Trishanku under review, she has written the four sections of poems, inspired from her mother's story of the same title. The work was presented on 1st April at Kamani Auditorium in Delhi. In her choreographer's note, Rachana mentions that she picks up subjects for her choreographies from her own life experiences. When she feels that she can express the chosen subject through dance, then only she undertakes choreographing it. The theme she chose for Trishanku is her own journey being a daughter of her mother, and herself becoming mother of her own daughter. This journey she further explains has been full of innumerable conflicts and contradictions. The problem she has posed is about how much to break from the past, how much to take from the future, and is there a perfect balance?


Tribute by Rama Vaidyanathan to her mother Madhavi Gopalakrishnan

Sarvam Foundation presented at Habitat Centre, Delhi, the inaugural event of Madhavi, a dance festival in honour of late Madhavi Gopalakrishnan, the mother of Bharatanatyam exponent Rama Vaidyanathan, on 3rd April. Madhavi Gopalakrishnan was a connoisseur of classical music and dance. For Rama she was a constant source of inspiration and stood by her till she breathed her last, always encouraging Rama to scale greater artistic heights. She passed away last year. In order to perpetuate her memory, her belief, love for life, its continuity and celebration, Rama planned an annual festival with help of Sarvam Foundation, several well wishers, and her own two sisters Indira Nayar and Meera Khanna. Rama presented a well conceived program by her disciples including her daughter Dakshina. Nehha Bhatnagar, disciple of Saroja Vaidyanathan and Rama, is founder president of Sarvam Foundation and took care of various other requirements.


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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Magical, Mystical, Monumental - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee



Just as cultivators today turn their gaze skywards in India, anxiously seeking signs of rain, so did their ancestors - several hundreds of years ago. With every passing dry day, their anxiety, too, turned to desperation and finally to prayers. The sages then offered to invoke Parjanya, the rain god, in their hymn in the Rig Veda
Sing forth and laud for Parjanya, son of Heaven, who sends the gift of rain... May he provide our pasturage. Parjanya is the God who lays in cattle, in mares, in plants of earth, and in womankind, the germ of life… Offer and pour into his mouth oblation rich in savoury juice. May he forever give us food…   
Parjanya Devata (The Rain God), a dance production blending Odissi and Western classical dance form, presented recently in Kolkata by Victoria Memorial Hall in association with South Gurukul Society, could not have been a more grandiloquent affair, in terms of all three elements needed for performative arts: space, time and characters. Its locale was the elevated backdrop of Western Quadrangle of a one-century-old colonial edifice, built in Indo-Saracenic style with picturesque Venetian, Egyptian, Deccani and  Islamic architectural influences.  The colonial behemoth offered a huge front fa├žade of 350 feet, rising to an awesome height of 200 feet, all in gleaming white Makrana marble, surrounded by the most spacious and luscious English gardens.



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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Fusion or Confusion? - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

With all the buzz about rightists and leftists, about fundamentalists versus the liberal minded, about secularism against 'majoritarianism,' it seems to me that somewhere people are losing a sense of proportion on what represents plain good taste against what goes for ugliness of mind and thinking. In an age when the ad world has never had it so good, and the media works overtime capturing politicians and important figures from all disciplines mouthing opinions and statements of every hue, we have the confused situation of demanding freedom and equal rights for the woman while trying to commission anti-Romeo squads to keep them safe from molestation!

In a global world, Contemporary art has gone viral with its fusion ventures and over the years one has witnessed the strangest cultural interactions of Kathak with Jazz, Bharatanatyam with western Contemporary Dance, Swan Lake in Mohiniattam done to Tchaikovsky's music, Kathak and Hip Hop dance and much more. We have also had famous Odissi artists performing to film music. But now comes a strange 4.25 minute long video of five freelancing Odissi dancers performing movements of a Pallavi, to Ed Sheeran's English number "The shape of you" as a promotional venture by 'Detour Odisha.' 

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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - April 2017

Anita says...April 2017

"I will take what's mine with fire and blood!" - Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones) 


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NARTHAKI!!
Entering year 18!

And we are still here - bringing you the wonderful and often tumultuous world of Indian dance, into your lives!
Thank you all for the immense faith and continued support.
We are honoured to have your trust, admiration and engagement.
You share your work, your travails and often your personal histories.
We started off as a dance directory in 1993, published a second edition phone book in 1997 and went online in APRIL 14, 2000.

We continue... We believe... We persist and YOU SUPPORT!

Here is an official THANK YOU and STANDING CYBER OVATION to the indefatigable
Lalitha Venkat and Sumathi - my two pillars for all these years.

And now, Raksha Patel and Akhila/Aalaap who are part of our team and our dreams.
ALL OF US WONDER WOMEN... SO CHEER US ON!

Aaaaaaaaand...Here I go...