Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Visual poetry - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Come September and Delhi is all agog with dance festivals. There are so many festivals organized simultaneously, that they overlap and one finds it difficult to make a choice as to what to see and what to forego. The Purana Qila Dance Festival, which is a continuation of Ananya Dance Festival, was formerly organized by Sanjeev Bhargav with the help of Ministry of Culture, Delhi Government. Now it has been taken over by the Delhi Government's Department of Art, Culture and Languages, and is mounted with assistance of Sahitya Kala Parishad, keeping the format more or less the same.

Purana Qila is a magnificent monument renovated during Emperor Humayun's rule in the year 1533 AD. Sher Shah Suri of Suri Dynasty had defeated Humayun in 1540 AD as per the historical records. Popularly known as Purana Qila, Old Fort with its vast complex offers a spectacular view. In recent years in the early 70s it was director E. Alkazi who had used it for the play Andha Yug for National School of Drama. In later decades it has been the venue of various important theatre events and concerts. The dance festival has been one of the most popular events.....

A factual description of Kanjeevaram sari by sociologist Arati Kalra inspired Malavika Sarukkai to explore the design of play of thread. For two and half years she worked upon the seed of concept and she created in Bharatanatyam the journey of sari as a metaphor for life. Thari - The Loom, offered her a certain freedom to work with the classical form and expand its range. She says that inspiration was like an ambush. It led her to meet weavers to understand how the loom functions, its rhythm and how she could work with it in terms of dance. Stepping out, taking risks she has tried to do things, going outside of the narrative of classical repertoire, the figurative and descriptive, and exploring the abstract....

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Thari exquisitely weaves the warp and weft of life's saree - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


There is no flamboyance or over abundantly grand narrative. But in the 75 minutes of non-stop group presentation in Thari -The Loom conceived and choreographed by Malavika Sarukkai, the audience after having experienced artistic excellence of exquisite subtlety, leaves the auditorium with a mind filled with the lurking poetry hidden in that unstitched traditional garment - the saree. Reflecting on the primeval rhythm tat taka taam of the loom, grew the perception in Malavika of how closely the very different activities of dance and weaving are guided by the same concerns, to quote the words of Thari's creative collaborator Sumantra Ghosal of "space, structure, motif, symmetry, proportion, relationship (and ) alignment." Much like the coming together of the warp and the weft in weaving, dance and music are required to work in "total coordination, rhythm and measurement and design." The production, lacing the proven movement technique in Bharatanatyam with the alchemy of the choreographer's creative contemporary mind, converts past inheritance into not something back there and lost, but a vital presence constantly alive, expanding its horizons.

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Monday, 16 October 2017

Interview - The Reddys: A family dedicated to dance - Shveta Arora


Once upon a time, it was natural for children to follow their parents into their profession. But today, when children are given the choice to choose their own professions and often choose to do something ‘modern’ in their careers, it’s interesting to hear from youngsters who have followed their parents’ footsteps in an ancient classical tradition. In a conversation with Kuchipudi Guru Raja Reddy and his daughters Yamini and Bhavana Reddy, I was impressed by how both the girls have adapted their modern upbringing to further the Kuchipudi tradition. Below are excerpts from a chat conducted during the Reddys’ Parampara Dance Festival in Delhi recently.

Raja-ji, how did you think you could initiate both your daughters into this tradition? What was the pressure as a parent?
Raja Reddy: Being in the Reddy family, we were not supposed to learn dance. But since childhood, I was very interested. Same goes for Radha – we married, and her parents and my parents were not happy about it but we were mad about dance. Then we came to Hyderabad and both Radha’s parents and grandparents told her, “Get a divorce from him, he is sure to end up penniless!” See, in our region, dance was dismissed as a profession for the lower classes. They (those who looked down upon dance) didn’t even know that Shiva is the creator of dance. Without Radha, my dance would have been incomplete. Nobody would have seen my performance; it was possible only because Radha was there to handle things. 

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Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Mythologist and the Muses - Stephen Gerringer - ANCIENT FUTURES:Thoughts on myth, legend and beyond

(Reproduced here with permission from Pacifica Graduate Institute, USA)

In this Practical Campbell essay, Stephen Gerringer examines the role of the arts in Joseph Campbell's life and work, along the way touching on the roots of creativity.
In my writing and my thinking and my work I've thought of myself as addressing artists and poets and writers. The rest of the world can take it or leave it as far as I'm concerned. 

Joseph Campbell, quoted in Fire in the Mind, by Robin & Stephen Larsen (from Campbell's final lecture, to art students), p. 556 
When reading Joseph Campbell, many people naturally focus on the universal motifs found in mythologies of different cultures, or find themselves taken by the parallel between mythological themes and one's own life journey - but just as significant is the central role the creative imagination plays in Campbell's world. 

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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Dance reflecting an approach not tethered to form - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


Black Box, G 54 Foundation for Contemporary Culture, a delightfully intimate space, with its convoluted address of ‘Lakshmi Mills Estate, Shakti Mills Lane, Off Dr. E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai’ is typical of the spaces within spaces this city specialises in. It was in the compact auditorium of ‘Black Box’ that the well-known magazine of the Arts, Marg had organised the release of its latest issue on Contemporary Dance in India on October 9, 2017. The word ‘contemporary’ is a loaded term and its connotation with respect to dance will always be contested, with classical dancers not willing to believe they are anything less than ‘contemporary’. Contemporary Dance practitioners, however, for long have nursed a feeling of deprivation about their efforts not receiving the kind of government support their colleagues in the classical art forms get. 



After the formal release function followed a short but varied and arresting programme, which dancer Astad Deboo with his aesthetic refinement, had curated.

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Friday, 13 October 2017

Mega Shows - TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar


And one thought there were no audiences left for dance, when one saw pathetically filled halls in metro cities. 100 people on a good day. Often, there were none because it - the dance - had no real connect with the people. I must qualify the above with one additional word. Classical  dance.  

I’m coming from 7 cities in 7 days (with bad stomach flu to boot!), where I’ve seen thousands in each dance gathering - Bengal pandals and Gujarat Navratri celebrations. These are to be seen to be believed. A true, people’s festival. Thousands in each neighborhood. All dancing and happy.  Classical, folk, Bollywood, jazz, rag, tag call what you will. It is Indianised dance. Trust us to assimilate all cultures and make it our own. MAKE IN INDIA has a totally new meaning in dance.


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Friday, 6 October 2017

Parampara finds the right dance/music blend - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


Natya Tarangini's 'Parampara' festival (Sept 22 - 24) observing its 21st consecutive year of celebration, attracted large audiences to the Kamani Auditorium, Delhi, for what, this year turned out to be fare offering a magical dance/music blend. Shivaleela, the inaugural Kuchipudi event by the host organisation featuring the entire Reddy family of Raja/Radha and Kaushalya (nattuvangam) with their two dancing daughters Yamini and Bhavana, in the well rehearsed tautness of presentation - was a more evolved production than what one was treated to during its less formal premiere at the Reddy home on Shiva Ratri. 

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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari

Bharati Shivaji's institution Centre for Mohiniattam presented on second day of Mohiniattam Festival, 'Sita Ram Parinay' based on chaupais of Tulasidas's Ramcharitmanas at IIC Kamala Devi Complex auditorium on September 28, Delhi.....


For Lalitarpan Festival 2017 of dance and music, which Shovana Narayan arranges every year under the aegis of her dance institute Asavari, in memory of her mother, she had invited from Vienna the celebrated dancer and choreographer Radha Anjali (Angela) with her Natya Mandir Dance Company.....

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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Obit/Tribute - Shirin Vajifdar - Dr. Sunil Kothari


Shirin Vajifdar, 92, passed away in Mumbai peacefully on September 29, 2017. 

She was a pioneer among Parsi community to take up classical dancing in early 1930s. She and her two sisters Khurshid and Roshan performed together as Vajifdar Sisters. Shirin studied Kathak under Jaipur gharana maestro Sundar Prasadji and later on studied further Kathak and other styles like Manipuri and Kathakali at Madam Menaka's Nrityalayam at Khandala, near Mumbai

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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Anita says...October 2017


"Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide."
- DW Winnicott

The party is never ending. There was a 19 day respite between Dussera (September 30) and Diwali (October 18) but no more. Indian communities across India and elsewhere have geared up for nonstop celebrations. From the jam packed streets of Newark Avenue Garba frenzy in New Jersey to boulevards in many parts of the UK and of course India, sticks click away, skirts swirl, laughter overflows and food and drink help the mood build to a lively frenzy. DURGA may have performed HER time honoured ritual of slaying darkness and restoring balance to the universe. SHE has been immersed yet again amidst cheers and tears but calm has not descended over her devotees. As you read this, many will be preparing to dress up to attend fabulous Ram Lila pandals and card parties in North India which have already started as a curtain raiser to Diwali.


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Roving Eye - Curated by Anita Ratnam - October 2017