Friday, 27 April 2018

Evoking a feel of the Sadir dancer's joi de vivre - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman


Sandhya Raman's Art Studio has been a venue for some out- of- the way evenings of dance. Now with one end of the L shaped hall given a neatly erected wooden stage just a foot above the floor level with the audience seated on modhas in front, the performer has his/her space defined, with the intimate ambience preserved. And marking Tamil New Year's day, was a most entertaining evening of Stories that take a form devised and performed by scholar /performer Swarnamalya Ganesh from Chennai, who with years of research into the cultural, sociological, political history of what we call Bharatanatyam today, has worked at trying to reconstruct the old avatars of the dance - this evening's concern being with its manifestation as Sadir performed by the devadasis - the period dealt with being roughly from early 1700 till about 1920. In the then Madras Presidency, the dance had a very visible presence. The old diaries, records and gazetteers contain plenty of scattered bits of information and culling the details to be able to get out of it sufficient material to construct a dance edifice, is the unstinting work of Swarnamalya who acknowledges generously the help of other researchers of history, Tamil literature etc in this effort.

The memories from the past began right from the introduction to each item, the dancer's histrionics bringing alive the British dorai and the plantation owner, the Dubhash or any character featured in the interaction. The story begins with The Luz House of Moddaverappa Venkatasami Naidu, where several kutcheris were held - a famous place visited by renowned musicians like Sonti Venkataramana and even Tyagaraja. 

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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Nrutya Rangoli dance festival and seminar - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


Academy of Music, Bangalore, under its aegis invited Veena Murthy Vijay to curate and conduct the annual dance festival for three days along with two morning sessions for dance seminar at Chowdaiah  Memorial Hall (April 13, 14 and 15). Titled as Nrutya Rangoli, Veena Murthy planned an inclusive dance festival which was from the word go a success.

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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Death and Resurrection - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


Punoruthhan presented by Sayak on March 28 in Kolkata, was based on the novel penned by Amar Mitra, which brought out the hard realities down the decades of unchallenged exploitation running rampant in what are known as Khadans (illegal spots of mining coal), owned and operated by coal mafias. Dramatized superbly by Chandan Sen and directed by the thespian Meghnad Bhattacharya, the play opened most imaginatively on a dimly illumined cyclorama where the scantily clad indigenous people are seen underground, lifting up costly coal and suddenly an ear wrenching accident takes place, causing explosions and deaths - - never to be acknowledged - inside those dangerously unsafe pits. ....

When Nirmal Verma (1923-2005), the flag-bearer of Nayi Kahaani movement in Hindi literature, pioneered his brand of brooding novels, stories, essays and travelogues, his penmanship was constantly seeking out the people who got left behind, having been first lured by the magnetic narratives of the city. Recipient of Jnanpith Award, Padma Bhushan and the Sahitya Akademi accolade, Verma developed a trenchant style, which used rich, realistic description as a mirror of the inner life. This was largely due to a very productive period of his literary life spent in the 1960s at the Oriental Institute in Prague, where he undertook direct translations of contemporary Czech writers, such as Milan Kundera, Bohumil Hrabal and Václav Havel into Hindi, much before their work became popular internationally. ....

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Conversations with God - Footloose and fancy free with Dr. Sunil Kothari


Vaibhav Arekar's Naama Mhaane transported the audience to Pandharpur

Performing at Delhi's Habitat Centre on the first evening of the two-day Madhavi Festival in memory of Madhavi Gopalakrishnan, mother of Bharatanatyam exponent Rama Vaidyanathan, Vaibhav Arekar and his Sankhya Ensemble transported the audience to Pandharpur in Naama Mhaane. The percussion by Krishnamurty with the playing of cymbals created magic and with chanting of Jay Jay Ramakrishna Hari by the dancers one felt that one was at the holy place of Pandharpur in Maharashtra. Being born in Mumbai and brought up there with Maharashtrian neighbors, one was steeped into abhangas of Tukaram, Janabai, Sant Namdev and others, as much as being a Vaishnava one was steeped into Haveli Sangeet and Brajbhasha songs.

Rani Khanam attempts a rich amalgamation of Sufi/Bhakti poetry 

After an interval of three years, I watched vastly gifted Kathak exponent Rani Khanam, disciple of Reba Vidyarthi and Birju Maharaj, in a highly aesthetic presentation, at Delhi's Habitat Centre on 10th April. She transported the audience to the realm of abstract philosophical, Sufi and bhakti verses in an effortless manner using Kathak, revealing another dimension of Kathak which explores the Islamic aspect / concepts which merge so easily with not only bhakti but also universal truths.

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Monday, 16 April 2018

Interview - Jonathan Hollander: Dance allows people to forget they have been traumatized - Shveta Arora


Earlier this year, renowned American contemporary dancer Jonathan Hollander was in Delhi to present his production Shakti: A Return to the Source. Before the performance, he spoke to a small audience at the studio of his long-time collaborator, costume designer Sandhya Raman. Hollander's Battery Dance Company has performed all over the world and also held workshops with troubled participants in several countries. He has a special relationship with India, though, having been a Fulbright scholar to the country and also spent a lot of time here. He has facilitated US tours by many of India's leading dance companies and co-founded the Indo-American Arts Council in 2000, according to his website.

Responding to the questions of an audience made up of classical dance practitioners and enthusiasts at Sandhya Raman's Atelier, Hollander spoke about his production, the importance of dance in handling the fissures in the world today, and how difficult it is to make dance work professionally.

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Saturday, 14 April 2018

Folk Art embodying eternal spirit - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


Mrudanga (literally meaning "clay limb") in Odisha -- not to be confused with  mridangam of Carnatic performing arts -- is a terracotta two-sided drum familiar all over northern and eastern India. An essential accompaniment for devotional music and dance, it is also known as khol in West Bengal, Assam and Manipur. Prevalent from antiquity, it has specially haloed association with Shri Chaitanya in Bengal and Saint Sankaradeva of Assam since the bhakti movement of the 16-17th century.  

Murchhana was presented on April 6 by Odissi dancer Sharmila Biswas with her well trained co-dancers in a very well attended ticketed show in Kolkata. The fascinating idea came to her -- in episodic form -- narrated by the mrudanga players when she was conducting research on the rural percussion instruments of Odisha. During the annual mrudanga making season, the mythic tales were repeatedly told to her through verses and songs (carefully culled and reworked) as part of mrudanga purification ritual and carried forward as an oral tradition. Said Sharmila, “The folk artists  believe that whenever a man plays the mrudanga with his whole being immersed in his art, murchhana, the spirit, enters and possesses the mrudanga, stirring the person from within. It transforms him, and his art elevates to a spiritual level. It brings supreme bliss.” 

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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Article - Celebration of Chaitra Parv Chhau Festival - Pallavi Verma

                                             


Folk dances are about more than dancing. It’s human’s natural urge to rituals, a direct expression of innermost spirit. The beauty of folk dances lies in its intervention with the lives of people. Each movement they perform is familiar and joyful. They are associated with the performance of daily tasks or activities like sowing, harvesting, hunting and the passage of season gives them a devotional theme. Chaitra Parv is one such season when people of Orissa worship Lord Shiva with utmost enthusiasm by performing Mayurbhanj Chhau dance. The Chaitra Parv Chhau Festival is celebrated on 13th or 14th April for consecutive three days. Understanding Mayurbhanj Chhau’s cultural and historical background on this eve will let us appreciate the strength of our traditions. 

Chhau is derived from the word ‘Chhauni’ meaning a military camp where the dance evolved from martial art. Some believe that this folk dance was performed to entertain the Oriya warriors inside the camps and has spread gradually. Others believe that the word Chhau is originated from such words as ‘Chhabi’ (picturesque), ‘Chhai’ or ‘Chhatak’ (clowning) and ‘Chhaya’ (shadow or phantom). Mayurbhanj Chhau is one of the principal folk dance forms of eastern India performed by the people vastly spread in contiguous areas of Mayurbhanj (Orissa).

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