|The first half of April brought bad news on four consecutive days to the dance community.
Families are paramount in a dancer’s life. They are the spine that holds the flurry of inexplicable madness that seizes all of us.
When the trunk is felled then the performer suffers. We share the sad news of three wonderful performers who have been bereaved.
Mythili Prakash bereaved... lost her father on April 7th, Los Angeles
Jhelum Paranjape bereaved... lost her mother on April 9th, Mumbai
Priyadarsini Govind bereaved... lost her husband on April 9th, Chennai
Also Mr. ‘Kartik’ Rajagopal, pillar of Kartik Fine Arts sabha in Chennai,
who worked silently and selflessly for the organisation for almost 40 years, closed his eyes on March 30, 2014.
The global dance community sends their condolences and courage to the families and artistes
who will need the strength and conviction of their paths to continue this solitary journey.
The world's largest democracy is at the hustings. Dancers, actors, musicians, composers, costume designers, art patrons and rasikas… We are all citizens first and foremost. So please get out of your comfortable homes and cast your vote. DO NOT EXERCISE THE NOTA OPTION. Choose your party and cast your vote. A life in the arts is a political statement and India needs a cultural North Star more than ever.
Send us your black ink photos for posting on our pages!
For those who have already voted - Bravo!
Returning home to cast my vote in Chennai
- Dr. Anita R Ratnam
|Help us save Natarani from
the highway that is built behind us. Protect the performance space at
Amphitheatre Natarani in Usmanpura from the din and noise of traffic that
will ply on the Riverfront Road. Sign this petition and pass it on.
- Mallika Sarabhai
“Myths are public dreams. Dreams are private myths.”
Dialogue from the play METAMORPHOSES
A long and grateful EXHALE... A week spent in the embrace of the cool mountains of Santa Barbara in central California. A dreamlike 25 acre campus of brooks, walking paths, organic gardens, sacred groves, historic libraries that stand guard to the life’s work of mythology guru Joseph Campbell’s magnificent imagination. Inspired and nurtured in this retreat, I send these thoughts on a month that has gone by too quickly but has yielded so many fruits across continents.
I have been away from home for all of March and my travels are not done yet. There is still a trip to Washington DC for a performance courtesy dancer/presenter Daniel Phoenix Singh’s DAKSHINA, more performances to witness in San Francisco and New York and of course, friends and dancers to meet and greet. So let me begin.
London was my first stop. This time, with no special agenda except to watch work, meet colleagues and update myself on a constantly changing scene. In 10 hours, I changed time zones and climates. From 32 degrees to 12 degrees... Hello coat, hats, boots, gloves, scarves, sweaters and dry skin!
The day I landed, good friend Chitra Sundaram dragged my jet lagged body to THE PLACE Theatre for an evening of revelatory excitement. A brilliant, simply brilliant performance of the PROTEIN Dance Company in BORDER TALES. I was mesmerised at the ease and delicacy by which so many issues were illuminated. A mixed multi racial caste tore apart every popular misconception about Muslims (a backpack carrying Egyptian dancer was shunned by the group), dialogues echoing the fears of a large swathe of people about more “of those kinds of people” arriving in Britain, the pejorative “Paki” being used for all South Asians, Asian women are all submissive geisha babes or kung fu fighting Lucy Liu types – these stereotypes were expressed in witty solos and duets. The ideas flowed with relentless ferocity. We were all riveted and gave the 90 minute performance a standing ovation.
BORDER TALES can never come to India. Much like UK based Sri Lankan actor Rani Moorthy’s moving performance- art solo LOOKING FOR KOOL, about her native Tamil culture and family being destroyed or disappearing during the 30 year conflict in the island nation. Performed in the bowels of the South Bank Centre four years ago for the annual Alchemy Festival, the moving work echoed of loneliness and the lifelong search for what it meant to be “home” when there was no physical memory of family, house and land except on the mind screen of blurred memory.
While in London, I had the delightful pleasure of meeting with all the grand divas of South Asian dance in one room! Imagine Mira Kaushik, Piali Ray, Shobana Jeyasingh, Sujata Bannerjee, Bishaka Sarkar, Stella Uppal, Anita Srivastava, Pushkala Gopal and Sanjeevini Dutta. Power women all. A gathering hosted by Chitra Sundaram, the delightful estrogen charged afternoon was coloured with laughter and the smearing of Holi colours. There is one thing that is a constant when women meet. No matter how important, successful or awesome they may be. Food, weight, hormonal changes, skincare, kids, education, spouses or significant others – these worlds somehow creep into conversations of funding, touring, presenting, deadlines, rehearsing, dreaming and dancing! In an afternoon where Tamil and Bengali flowed effortlessly across the room, I gave thanks for the glue that brought us all together – DANCE!
I had arrived in London days after MILAPFEST’s presentation of SWADESH at London’s Bhavan Centre. It seems of the three lovely dancers – Mythili Prakash, Arushi Mudgal and Monisa Nayak –Kathak dancer Monisa was flawless and impressed the most. The interesting programme notes read as follows: “When I say ‘my country’ what exactly do I mean? Is it the place I was born? A place I’ve lived? A place I’ve never lived? Is Swadesh a thing of the imagination? A feeling within? A feeling without?” My initial reaction was why were there no UK based dancers in SWADESH? Perhaps it was a question about “putting bums on seats” as is the primary requirement of audience building for the performing arts. Are the UK based dancers lacking in charisma to draw crowds? Did SWADESH allow the personal stories of each of these India-based dancers to be heard? Does dancing to Siva, Muruga, Ganesh, Durga or whichever God/Goddess, really represent family histories? Can’t the producers nudge dancers beyond these predictable formulae to probe a deeper, more individual ‘swadesh’ inside their psyche? MILAPFEST is an ambitious and highly successful Manchester based arts organisation which has so many anvils in the fire. There will be more to come in the summer months with their international conference SANNIDHI.
I visited the Tamil school in North Wembley to watch Kalakshetra alumni Stella Uppal teach three hours of non-stop classes to the Sri Lankan women and children. Two of her classes were filled with women in their thirties – dentists, film makers, writers, computer engineers and doctors. Women who danced before marriage and immigration and who were now returning to dance as exercise and a weekend getaway from family and professional responsibilities. The second class had housewives who loved dance, who were denied the opportunity while growing up in Sri Lanka and who now rushed to Stella’s Sunday class to experience Bharatanatyam. Stella is a passionate and intelligent teacher – dissecting the Kalakshetra body technique into digestible bite size pedagogic capsules and showing how the style, while concentrating on clean lines and suited for both genders, had the seeds of yoga, breathing and a holistic ideal that has since been forgotten. I was delighted to see the one hand ‘tai hat tai” adavu in one of the crisp ‘teermanans’ of the varnam. Later, we both chatted about how Sarada Hoffman was the physical clay for Rukmini Devi’s choreography. It was she who ‘mused’ Athai’s ideas into physical reality. Years later, I was in her class at Kalakshetra and remember the clarity with which she would explain single turn and the extension of arms and legs. She would demonstrate it beautifully and we would stand amazed.
I also visited dancer Anusha Subramanyam’s new home. It was an adventure of brick, debris and clutter. Her own room is beautiful- full of light and air, but the adventure of living in a space while the house comes to life will take emotional stamina and a sense of adventure – both of which Anusha and her photographer husband Vipul have in plenty.
London delivered glorious weather for me. Every day was full of sunshine and cloudless skies. I walked, ate my favourite English breakfast sitting outdoors, sipping macchiatos, red chilli dark chocolate (the TATE MODERN museum shop has a delicious brand) and enjoying the buzz of this fabulous city. The British Museum, Tate Modern, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum and Mason and the uber exciting Dutch shoe store UNITED NUDE made up for many memorable London days.
MK Saroja (Bharatanayam guru) - April 7
Anusha Lall (Contemporary) - April 14
VP Dhananjayan (Bharatanatyam guru) - April 17
Ambika Panicker (Odissi) - April 20
Aruna Mohanty (Odissi) - April 25
Thank you for building the website and for working so hard to provide an honest reflection of the state of the dance in India. Not only does it make me proud as an Indian (most of the time), it also inspires me very much.
- Charu Smriti, Delhi
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