e-mail: avignamail@yahoo.com 

November 2002

Dear readers, for those who don’t know me, I am a dancer and my name is G Narendra. I have always wanted to voice my views and opinions, but I have been postponing this for a long time now. The reason for this being – I am not qualified to be a journalist and also cannot express my views in high flown English like many other writers. Nevertheless, I realized, the purpose of writing has nothing to do with language, it is to merely express one’s own ideas/opinions. Now, coming to why I want to start writing - I would like to address certain issues and talk about it daringly. I also want to put forth my honest opinion regarding these issues.  

Very recently I had written an article in the website narthaki.com. It was regarding using Pre-recorded music for dance, the response for which was overwhelming.  

It so happened that I attended a dance performance “She” on the 18th of November by Nina Rajarani (Bharathanatyam) and Pali Chandra (Kathak) presented by Bharatha Kalanjali. My opinion about live orchestra changed dramatically for half an hour, which was the first half of the performance. For a change, musicians looked confident and happy and also concentrated on whatever they did. Both the male singers had an excellent voice complementing each other and did not compete like Bhimsen Joshi and Balamurali! The mridangam and tabla players were excellent as well and none of the musicians tried to over shadow the other. This group of musicians looked well rehearsed and did not falter at any point of time, which is the greatest boon for dancers on stage. In fact I watched the musicians more than the dancers! During the second half of the performance the dancers used Pre-recorded music. The live orchestra who were not part of the second half stayed on stage without disturbing the artists and the proceedings. The only negative comment with regard to the musicians is that the Carnatic musician needs to be more sensitive to the microphone. The venue, being Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the best for dancing in Chennai, complimented the evening’s show. Light and sound coordinated well with the artists. In all it was an evening to be cherished.  
Being a dancer myself, I am a little more critical about the dancing and choreographing aspects. Both Nina and Pali danced well. Their nritta was neat and good. The Kathak dancer was more graceful in executing nritta. At times, it seemed like she was overshadowing the Bharathanatyam dancer (may be because we don’t get to see Kathak in Chennai as much as Bharathanatyam?). It seemed like the twosome would have probably watched Leela Samson and Madhavi Mudgal doing a similar show and I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.  

INTERMISSION – then came the worst part of the evening. The most revered Guru who heads Bharata Kalanjali and who also presented this programme called upon his ‘Sambhandhi’ (daughter in law’s mother) to come on stage and say a few words. I was amused, yet sad to see a man of his stature do this, more so when people (those who know him well) in the audience, expressed their disappointment over this rather unbecoming move. I can even understand people befriending politicians and VIPs who can fetch programmes, but definitely not this. ‘One should practice what one preaches’.  

This programme was advertised with big names like Shankar Mahadevan and Shivamani to attract curious people. But there was hardly any music by them. Nevertheless, a good move to draw the crowd. Something new is what everybody wants these days and there is nothing wrong with that. At times the Pre-recorded music used in the second half of the programme got way too loud and the cell phones ringing in between merged with the music. I don’t think Nina had the figure to carry out the costume she wore in the second half, although the colour combinations were good.  

Finally, Thanks to the person sitting next to me smelling like Amrutanjan factory – I didn’t go back home with a headache!  

The impressive group of musicians was, Ravi Nagar – Hindustani Vocalist, Yadaav – Caranatic Vocalist, Shukla – Tabla, Karthikeyan – Mridangam, K.J.Vijay – Flute, Venkatesh – Light and Sound, Compere – Shanta Dhananjayan  

G Narendra is a Chennai based Bharatanatyam dancer who has choreographed for productions like The Living Tree as well as items for different types of recorded music like Yanni, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s Hindustani music and even film music from Lagaan. He has formed his own performing group Avigna.  
Feedback: mail to avignamail@yahoo.com.