S. Sarada (Sep 1, 1915–Nov 4, 2009)
100th birth anniversary
Dr. Maya Rao (May 2, 1928-Sep 1, 2014)
1st death anniversary
August is Madras month. It was 376 years ago on August 22 that the British leased a small strip of land from the Dutch on a date which is now widely marked as the birth of Madras - Madras Day. While the celebrations began in a modest way several years ago by a small group of citizens who wanted to revive the "idea" of Madras and its colourful history, the week has now grown to become an entire month filled with talks, heritage walks, and rare cuisine offerings, music, movies and even standup comedy! Theatres, cafes, art galleries, hotel lobbies, heritage buildings and private homes became venues for the month long celebrations.
For a dancer, it was a dream month. A chance to watch the legends talk, share and perform. To watch practitioners in their seventies and beyond make us gasp and sigh in admiration!
Two important dance events illuminated the month for me. Early in August was the presentation by Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and her ensemble on the entire set of 108 karanas and her two creative interpretations of Japanese and Russian composers. To watch this amazing almost 75 year old on stage, still able to communicate and bring the audience to their feet in applause was in itself a tour de force. While we cannot expect the agility and suppleness Paddu Akka demonstrated in her thirties and forties, her younger protégés, Gayatri Kannan and her daughter Mahati Kannan proved to be able inheritors of the Bharata Nrityam parampara. Watching the karanas being performed also brought home the singular pedagogical systems that Padma has put into place to train her students limb by limb. She shared a sliver of the methodology with the audience at the end but there is much to learn from her physical training process when I watched the dancers lift their legs with ease almost up to their ears in a couple of instances.
Padma herself transformed into the essence of liquid bhakti for her performance of ‘Gajendra Moksha.’ Moving to blind Japanese composer Miyagi's tune, she responded to each nuance and note of the music making it seem that it was written for her. Her innate musical connection and ability to respond to every microtone is what makes her performances truly "visual music."
Late August marked Leela Samson’s 20th anniversary of her SPANDA Dance Company. Starting as an ensemble dance performance of the same name in New Delhi, SPANDA expanded to become more than a dance production. With many of her old students in attendance, the two day celebrations became a treasured experience for dancers and rasikas.
Anita Ratnam presents Neelam: Drowning in Bliss
Experimental Theatre, NCPA
Sept 3, 2015 Mumbai
Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival 2015|
Premiere of 12 dance productions
Sept 1 - Oct 4, 2015 Malaysia
Rehearsals for celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of Periya Sarada
at Kalakshetra on Sept 1, 2015
Photos: Aryamba Sriram
Jitendra Maharaj (Kathak): Sept 9
Kumkum Mohanty (Odissi): Sept 10
Rajika Puri (Odissi, BN): Sept 14
Alarmel Valli (BN): Sept 14
Jhelum Paranjape (Odissi): Sept 24
Ananda Shankar Jayant (BN, Kuchipudi): Sept 27
"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home".
- Twyla Tharp
I extend my heartiest gratitude for this pioneering effort.
- Krishnakali Dasgupta, Manipuri dancer, USA
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