- Anusha Nathan
April 24, 2009
March 14, 2009 a very adroit man by the name of Prasanna Kasturi got involved
in his own extemporaneous performance as he explained Geya-Nrutya, singing
as well as dancing. On that day, my eyes widened and my brain enlarged
so that it could take in all of the information and knowledge, complex
yet intelligible that was being handed down to all of the members of the
audience, including me.
as Prasanna Kasturi explained is a combination of singing and dancing.
'Geya,' means song and 'Nrutya' means dance. Through the generations, people
have lost the ability to do just that. During his performance, Prasanna
Kasturi explained how he was trying to bring back Geya-Nrutya, and why
it is so important to be able to do that. Imagine a world with only tape
and CD players, no singing, and nobody who could sing. There would then
be no natural talent floating around in the air, and everyone would have
to dance to a voice in a box. Dance is only complete with a voice, a voice
that can be heard as well as felt.
welcomed an audience member to the stage and asked for an ordinary sentence.
As a reply, she said, "By the fireside, in the glistening light." With
only a couple of seconds to ponder, Prasanna Kasturi, Sandhya Srinath and
Srinath Bala came up with a tune in the raagam of Mohanam. In the
blink of an eye, he immediately put the sentence to a tune with different
swaras, which the orchestra had to immediately pick up, and they did. After
listening to the tune for about a line, Prasanna Kasturi started singing,
"By the fireside, in the glistening light." I especially liked the way
he did this because he showed that anything, even American lyrics can be
put to any raagam in Carnatic music. After a few lines of the actual
'song' part, he added some swaras and formed them into a jathi. To dance
to the jathi, he did some Bharatanatyam steps such as "thai thai dith dith
thai tham," and other common, well known steps. Watching him perform with
absolutely no preparation was a miracle coming to life.
the girl came to the stage, he danced to a song he already had in mind.
When I listened to him sing, I could feel what he was trying to imply,
not only through his dance, but also through his voice. The way he sang,
placid and serene, an everyday, ordinary person could figure out the type
of emotion he was trying to get through to the audience. Watching him dance
and sing, I thought to myself, "Why does he sometimes stop in between?"
Later, as he progressed in his dance, I learned that singing and dancing
together is quite tiring, and it requires a lot of effort, determination,
and inner talent.
In this section
of the Natya Dance Conference, I really enjoyed the way Prasanna Kasturi
explained his information. He didn't speak as if he were talking to a group
of adults, using terminology that most children probably wouldn't understand,
but he spoke as if he were talking to everyone. He spoke casually, which
made it very intelligible to many of the younger children in the audience.
expressions were even more impressive than his footwork. Along with the
steps on the floor and the lifting of his legs into the air, the movements
of his eyes and other features of his face really spoke to me. Through
him, I felt as if I really could reach God, and that is the ultimate goal
of any dancer.
Nathan is a 12 year old dance student who attended Prasanna Kasthuri's
lecture-demonstration on Geya-Nrutya. Prasanna was speaking at the Natya
Dance Conference 2009 organised in Maryland by Jayamangala, and supported
by the Towson University, Maryland.