"Everything is Art
Everything is Politics"
Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei held in house arrest in Beijing.
I discuss two divas in this month's edition - Martha Graham and Chandralekha. Both modernists, passionate about the geographies they inhabited and the urgent need to express through the body. Both women had a profound impact on the course of modern dance in their countries and both were iconic in appearance and attitude.
The first was a catalyst for thousands of my generation and beyond. An early modernist who literally invented the grand, high drama intensity of dance theatre (before the term was actually coined) for the early 20th century American dance stage, Martha Graham fueled her particular brand of personal fire into several unforgettable collaborations with painters, composers, designers and writers. A week long homage to her genius was mounted at New York's Joyce Theatre last month, marking the 96th season of the Martha Graham Dance Company. Among the highlights of the matinee show I attended was the iconic LAMENTATIONS. It was, simply, a shot heard throughout the dance world when it premiered as early as 1930.
The work was a cathartic release for many generations who had lost husbands and sons in the two world wars, for many who had witnessed death through illness and accidents, and for those who had simply forgotten to cry.
The grey tube costume became a famous image and synonymous with the raw energy and passion that was to become the Graham signature. "A tragedy that obsesses the body" is how she describes this memorable short dance. This was the very first time I had seen this work live. Countless videos, several generations of Graham dancers have interpreted this work but to hear Graham and to watch her in LAMENTATIONS is to watch a true American original.
Sharmila Biswas and group presented APARKAYA
on January 16, 2015 at the Parkaya Festival, Delhi
Photos: Avinash Pasricha
K Kalyanasundaram (BN): March 1
Menaka Thakkar (Odissi): March 3
Rani Karnaa (Kathak): March 11
Sudharani Raghupathy (BN): March 21
Shobana Chandrakumar (BN): March 21
Vidhya Subramanian (BN): March 24
"An art historian has to work very hard. He has to be a composite being – hawk, ant, camel and peacock. Like a hawk, he has to be alert and swoop down to catch a point; he has to have the industry of an ant; the memory of a camel to connect various pieces of information; and like a peacock to spread one’s wings and to enjoy art!"
- Dr. BN Goswamy
(‘Two historians share notes,’ by Chitra Madhavan, The Hindu Friday Review, Jan 30, 2015)
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