famous classical music and dance season is over. Dance productions and
recitals - both new and old, fine and bad - were packed into this two-month
(Dec-Jan) span of cultural fiesta. The performances were conducted at different
venues and promoted by many sabhas. Dancers from all over the world arrived
here in Chennai; some to dance, some to watch and some to write. As usual,
the lopsided structure provided many fixtures for a few dancers, and almost
none for many. The audience turned up in great numbers for some performances,
while a few fine performances were to an almost empty hall.
As with every
season, most organizations gave away awards to artistes of their choice
who merited the recognition. We asked some of them how they felt about
award was instituted in the early sixties, and is conferred on performing
artistes, of high merit, talent and caliber by the Government of Tamil
were presented at a glittering function held at Chennai on November 25,
2003. Ananda Shankar Jayant (Hyderabad) is the first dancer
from Andhra Pradesh to receive this prestigious award. Says Ananda, ‘It
is a real honour, to be awarded the Kalaimamani. It is an award that I
will treasure, all the more so, as I am the first dancer from Andhra Pradesh
to receive this award. Further receiving it along with my Guru Krishnaveni
Laxman and senior dancer C V Chandrashekar (all of us are from Kalakshetra)
in the year when Rukmini Devi Arundale's centenary is being celebrated,
is a blessing. This will spur me on to higher levels of excellence'.
the younger son of Bharatanatyam guru Sudharani Raghupathy, is making a
mark for himself as a percussionist and composer. At 26 years of age, he
is the youngest recipient of the award. "When artistes are evanescent as
a bubble, it feels like being foisted with a festoon of flowers to receive
an award, more so when an honour is bestowed early in life, and this feeling
knows no limits when the award comes from the very sovereign, that is the
government. Happiness is an inadequate word to explain the state of mind"
For his contribution
to dance music, dancer/guru/composer CV Chandrasekhar was
conferred the Nadha Brahmam by Narada Gana Sabha, one of Chennai's foremost
organizations that promotes dance and music. He says, “Awards are welcome
especially when it is from a prestigious organisation like Narada Gana
Sabha. I would cherish this occasion and the award, which is generally
awarded to musicians. I 'd like to accept it as an honour to the dance
At the Abhinaya
Sudha seminar, while expressing her anxiety that senior musicians like
Adyar Balu was yet to receive recognition from the Govt, dance guru K
J Sarasa lauded the Narada Gana Sabha for giving importance to
dance music by choosing to honor CV.Chandrasekar.
the younger generation of dancers, G Narendra feels, “Basically,
it has boiled down to one thing…whoever has the money, the status and knows
the right people, are still in the race. Talented youngsters who deserve
a chance to perform don't get one because the oldies don't seem to stop.
In any field, whether it is politics, cricket, media, cinema or sport,
the people on top dictate the game - like offspring of the famous get the
opportunity because of their lineage. In dance also, they have started
this new wave of family programs where the seniors dance with their wives,
sons, daughters, daughters-in-law and so on. Sponsors, sabhas and organizations
cater to established names by supporting these family programs even if
the offspring of the esteemed gurus are very mediocre in talent - and there
is so much talent available in the field. As for awards, so many students
receive awards early in life while their teachers still go unrecognized.
It really is such a sorry state. Everybody has to understand the truth
of the matter and come together to bring about a solution to remedy the
present dismal situation of the arts.”
artistes feel about the December season - performing, not performing, about
the whole season itself?
Shankar Jayant, Hyderabad
in the December season is always special; it is where we all gather to
validate one's art and the journey we have undertaken. Bringing Navarasa
to the discerning Chennai rasika is exciting. Performing Gitopadesa at
the Music Academy where nearly all the viewers know and understand the
verses of the Gita is wonderful
thrilled. It is so difficult to get an opportunity to perform in Chennai.
Most of the time, I am in the audience, so I felt very happy. So were the
Chinese dancers and our troupe from Mumbai. In Singapore, we hear more
about Chennai than Mumbai!
Chennai (after his
duet with Mahalaxmi on Jan 5, 2004)
feel very fortunate in receiving the prime slots for the season in all
the city's prestigious sabhas. They have given me a lot of respect and
encouragement. The audiences have also been supportive by responding with
appreciative phone calls and emails.
Bangalore (after her
show on Jan 4, 2004)
have to mention that maami (Mrs. Y G Parthasarathy) is the only sabha person
who is a staunch supporter of the arts, with the audacity to give performance
opportunity to someone who has not been seen in the sabha circuits for
many years. Also, she approaches artists for a performance without them
having to ask her, something that does not happen in Chennai city at all.
I am happy there is someone in this city doing this service to the arts
by encouraging artistes. For all the young artistes who do not get a chance,
I think maami is the only chance.”
do perform all over the country but to perform in Chennai, the Mecca of
the arts, is something special.
Revealed by Fire to Chennai, which is the last stop on our tour, is very
exciting, even though Chennai is considered the stronghold of Bharatanatyam
and there are lot of people who do not really appreciate too much deviation
from the classical repertoire. For a work like this, I think it's a city
that appreciates new directions that Indian dance has taken.
was very special to dance Moham in the morning, sans lighting and video
technology, in front of a select, invited gathering at the Arangham Dance-Space.
The physical and emotional rapport with the audience was palpable... strange
as it may seem, the closeness of the audience allows one to rev up the
intensity with presence and not with projection... which the proscenium
stage demands even as it divides the participants in a theatre into performer
idea of putting together Natya Darshan I and II was to bring some sources
of inspiration to the young dancers of Chennai. It was not an easy task
for Sudharani Raghupathy and myself to mount Natya Darshan II. Both performances
and lecture demonstrations of these invited groups were brilliant. This
fest-seminar was aimed at the young professional dancers of Chennai who
are involved in both classical and contemporary work. Hence one could not
help wishing that they had turned up in larger numbers and benefited from
V P Dhananjayan,
from outside Chennai have to face situations like near empty halls because
we do not know the local press nor do we have that many contacts in the
city who would come to see us perform. I am happy that the few people I
had invited came to watch my performance. I feel the organizers need to
do more publicity, like featuring photographs in the media, to attract
crowds. In order to create awareness of dance forms other than Bharatanatyam
in the south, organizations like Sangeet Natak Akademi could hold their
annual Odissi festivals in cities like Chennai and Bangalore, instead of
only in Bhubaneswar where anyway there is an overdose of Odissi. This would
expose the people to the artistes and their work.
C V Chandrasekhar,
are good. Chennai vaasees have an opportunity to dress up and an occasion
to meet old friends and shake hands with musicians and dancers. We as artists
see a lot of new faces. Whether there is big crowd or not, those who sit
through the performances are genuine connoisseurs and they do not mince
words in expressing their honest opinions about the Kutcheri standards.
Of course Sabhas
are mushrooming. But there is no fresh approach to change the scenario
to attract our staple audience, the same 100 year old pattern of presentations
of music and dance (sorry, at least dance scenario is much better compared
to the Carnatic music) no excitement of any kind.
drab pattern, mostly mediocre Kutcheris. Very poor parking facilities dissuade
many to stir out of their house, unless one of their favorites is singing
or dancing. Definitely the floating crowd in Chennai fills the halls. It
is indeed a good season for people to visit Chennai... weatherwise.
On the whole
there is nothing exciting happening for a festival season like Mad Mad
Bharatanatyam student from Delhi
festival is eagerly looked forward to by all the dancers and musicians,
both for performances and also to watch and listen to other performers.
But the festival seems to be extending every year at both ends, extending
almost to 2 months, which further reduces the number of audience at all
the venues. The season should be reserved only for the best, age being
I don't feel it's overdone. I've been coming here for the past 6 to 7 years
since I passed out from Kalakshetra. And every year, I have learnt so much.
There's so much dancing in Madras, unlike in Delhi. I feel it gets better
and better every year. There's always something new to see every year.
invigorating, it's stimulating, it's exciting and frustrating too because
of so many things simultaneously happening. You have to pick and choose
and sometimes you want to go to 2 programs at the same time, and you can't.
I wish the people would sort of regulate it.
Bharatanatyam student from Delhi
a dance teacher, I want to see many artistes perform. Krishna Gana Sabha
has a wonderful line-up of programs, but their tickets are very highly
priced. For a 50Rs ticket, one has to sit right at the back in only 2 allotted
rows, even if half the hall is empty. In Bharat Kalachar, for the same
ticket price, we not only get a good view, it is affordable to see as many
shows as we want during the season and the ambience is also good.
a wonderful experience, especially for someone like me who comes from Delhi.
There's so much of beautiful dance and music happening here that I feel
enriched by the experience.
appearing for 12 consecutive years at the Madras/Chennai dance season,
it was a month of silence and spectatorship for me. By watching many dance
performances, I was able to reflect on the role of the season in furthering
the dialogue of classical dance as well as my own position in this annual
prestigious dance showcase. I did not miss performing at all. A surprising
discovery for me.