|January 27, 2011
The concept of Dance Jathre so passionately
pursued by Kuchipudi exponent Vyjayanthi Kashi has met with unprecedented
success. Last year, the breathtaking venue was The Freedom Park, a jail
turned into a park with several facilities and excellent architecture and
drew hundreds of dance aficionados. I was surprised to come across such
open spaces in Bangalore. I did not know such space existed in this city.
Canada based Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Late Pada's Bangalore
based art activist sister Geetha Rao and others who I invited to come and
see and experience the joyous mood of Dance Jathre were also surprised
as they too had not visited the Freedom Park.
Not only the venue, but also the
gathering of so many dancers and few from Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Aurangabad,
Chennai, New Delhi and a large fraternity of Bangalore dancers enjoyed
series of events during the course of the two days. (See Ashish Mohan Khokar's
report on Dance Jathre with illustrations http://www.narthaki.com/info/rev08/rev647.html)
This year, at the spacious lawns
of Ravindra Kalakshetra, the stalls were erected for dance costumes, accessories,
photographs, plants, books and several things connected with dance. A few
yards away was the canteen with an easy access. The open area was used
for dance performances by the winners of the competition, in the evening
prior to performances by local and outstation dancers, which drew capacity
crowds. The festive mood prevailed in a bracing climate.
The workshops were conducted in adjoining
rooms from 10am till lunch time and after lunch break till 4pm. In the
main auditorium, competitions were held for young up and coming choreographers
from 10am till lunch time. The competition for school children saw enthusiastic
parents bringing participating children all dolled up in colourful dance
costumes that included Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam, Kathak
and folk dances.
Competition for kids
Solo classical dance competition
|50 participants in the solo junior
category and 20 participants in the senior solo category and about 20 groups
participating in group competitions and emerging choreographer's platform
kept the competitors busy form 10am till 5.30pm.
Junior solo first place winner Rashmi
Ravishankar was given the title NRUTYA MANDARA, second place Disha Manjunath
and third place Anuhitha received prizes and the senior first place winner
Sneha Narayan got the title NRITYA SHIVE, second place Priyadarshini Vasudev
and third place Shravati Satish received dance related prizes.
Shambhavi School of Dance bagged
the first place in junior group category and Nrithyantar Academy of performing
arts got the second place. In the senior group category the first place
was taken by St. Joseph College of Commerce and the second place to Sizzlers,
a team from a corporate company.
I attended three workshops which
ran for one hour each with more than 20 to 25 participants. Young college
going boys and girls, some 'techies' from IT sector enjoyed loosening their
limbs and succeeded in dropping inhibitions. Tripura Kashyap, formerly
trained in Bharatanatyam at Kalakshetra and a trouper in Chandralekha's
several innovative choreographic works, having specialized in dance therapy,
gave very scientific explanations for dance exercises. Quite an eye opener
and very useful to meet challenges for disabled dancers. Using interesting
music, she asked participants to follow her. Dancers facing each other,
following instructions to move, imitate, co-ordinate, feel, jump, roll,
and run did exercises that were interesting.
The one which had intrigued me the
most was a work shop in belly dancing by Katie from Holland. She is currently
in India staying in Goa, and is here on a three year visa. The way she
shook her hips and moved her belly all atremble was fascinating. The participants
were all female dancers and some non dancers. They tried hard and I was
quite surprised at how they could move their hips, belly and also shake
their bodies, imitating the instructor. She distributed medical literature
for women in order not to have injuries during menstruation period; her
approach was very scientific and she took great care in explaining how
to move. What one sees in films and clubs watching belly dancers perform
so effortlessly, one never realizes that there are well designed physical
exercises for belly dancers. Appearing sexy and titillating, belly dancing
is a fascinating dance form. The response to the workshop was quite good.
Yana Lewis ballet workshop
Bharati Shivaji, Mohiniattam exponent
from Delhi, spoke fluently while asking participants to feel the graceful
movements within and then after internalizing move the upper torso sideways.
Generally the impression a spectator receives is of very easy movements.
But watching the exercises in a workshop, I was quite impressed by the
explanations and process designed by Bharati. We are neighbors in Delhi
staying at Asiad Village and I often drop in to watch her class at her
residence. But the way she was conducting the workshop gave me a deeper
understanding of the form. In particular the andolika movement, where the
upper part of the body moves sideways was difficult for the participants
to execute with finesse and ease. What looked so simple was not that simple.
Also how the movements in Mohiniattam differ from other classical dance
forms became apparent. Years of practice have given Bharati and her versatile
daughter Vijayalakshmi exquisite grace typical of Mohiniattam movements
and a distinct signature.
Katie from Holland
Kuchipudi workshop with Vyjayanthi
Based in Berlin, Bharatanatyam and
Kuchipudi exponent and a Certified Movement Analyst (CLMA), Rajyashree
Ramesh conducted a workshop in sensing and shaping movement. The exercises
underlined basic principles to stand erect, in aramandi half plie position
of Bharatanatyam, utplavans, jumps, walk across the room diagonally, imitating
walks of horse, with abstraction of force, riding the horse, jumping off
the horse and similar exercises were interesting. The participants seemed
to have lot of fun as some could not perform as expected. It brought a
sense of joy and helped participants to drop their inhibitions. Rajyashree
Ramesh has trained dancers of German origin very successfully and has showcased
them two or three two years ago in complete recitals both at Bangalore
and Chennai. Her paper on movement sensing was well researched. Training
dancers who have different backgrounds and are from different cultures
is a challenge which Rajyashree has taken up with determination. I have
seen her working in Berlin training students with patience and working
out strategies to transmit techniques of Indian classical dance forms like
Bharatanatyam and folk dances with considerable success. She has received
a Master degree on the linguistic, movement analytic and neuro-scientific
aspects of Angika and Sattvika abhinaya from the Europa University Viadrina
Watching competition in choreography
during the inauguration in the main hall, I was struck by the imagination
of the group. Entering from two wooden doors, two female dancers carrying
pots placed them on the floor and we saw a puppet show. The puppeteer and
marionette manipulating strings made a female and a male life size puppets
impersonated by dancers, one in Manipuri costume with mirrored skirt and
gossamer veil, the male dancers dressed with a pugree and in Rajasthani
costumes performed with confidence. It was imaginative and no wonder won
the first prize.
I have noticed that in Bangalore
young college students have taken to contemporary dance. It reflected in
their presentation, dressed in black with loose pyjamas, bare bodies and
they create quite an impression. Not that all their attempts appear mature
and at times one cannot follow what the dancers wish to convey. But the
fun lies in performing and meeting up with the challenges in comparison
with classical forms.
The foyer of Ravindra Kalakshetra was
used for exhibition of photographs enlarged with the latest state of art
techniques. Several interesting dance styles with their colourful costumes
stared at us from the boards. I saw the announcement and the flyer of latest
book on the legendary dancer Balasaraswati. Extremely readable and painstakingly
written by her son-in-law Douglas Knight. Alongside were other photos of
Bharatanatyam gurus and exponents. Also of Yakshagana, Odissi guru Kelucharan
Mohapatra, cover of my book on Kuchipudi with photographs of Vedantam Satyam
donning female costume in the role of Satyabhama, taken by Avinash Pasricha
way back in 1993 at Kuchipudi dance festival held in Mumbai by G.M Sharma
who has devoted his life to the promotion, preservation and perpetuation
of the dance form.
It would have helped immensely if
the exhibition were given to a professional designer with proper captions
and mounted in a more orderly manner. The purpose would be served more
effectively if along with these photographs, posters, blow ups, arrangements
were made for display of books which could be purchased with a discount.
For the 4th edition of Jathre, I am sure Vyjayanthi Kashi would pay attention
to this suggestion. The wealth of visual material is quite mind boggling.
No other country in the world boasts eight classical dance forms. Its geographical
range and variety are staggering. A guided tour explaining these visuals
for school children would help them grasp the relevance of the forms in
an educative manner.
Madhavi Mudgal and group
Shambhavi Dance Ensemble
Maulik Shah's group
Rasika Dance Ensemble
Bharathi Shivaji and group
Sunil Kothari, dance historian, scholar, author, is a renowned dance critic,
having written for The Times of India group of publications for more than
40 years. He is a regular contributor to Dance Magazine, New York. Dr.
Kothari is a globetrotter, attending several national, international dance
conferences and dance festivals. He has to his credit more than 14 definitive
works on Indian classical dance forms. Kothari was a Fulbright Professor
and has taught at the Dance Department, New York University; has lectured
at several Universities in USA, UK, France, Australia, Indonesia and Japan.
He has been Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific (2000-2008)
and is Vice President of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific India chapter,
based in New Delhi. A regular contributor to www.narthaki.com, Dr Kothari
is honored by the President of India with the civil honor of Padma Shri
and Sangeet Natak Akademi award. He recently received the Senior Critic
award from Dance Critics Association, NYC.