Quotes of the Season
- Compiled by Lalitha Venkat

January 27, 2014

Dance

The global fetish towards physical agility and kinetic excitement has robbed the dance tradition of its inherent poetics. While Kathak seniors lament that the style has become reduced to “chakkars” and Bharatanatyam is all about posing and leaping, it will do well for emerging stars to remember that older generation of artistes could sing, dance, compose, play several instruments and conduct concerts. This all round ability is what made their art and the transmission of the tradition so rich and potent.  
- Anita Ratnam
(‘Anita says,’ Dec 1, 2013, www.narthaki.com)


Welcome to wake up calls in the voice of MS Subbulakshmi’s songs or an odd MGR track blaring through the neighbourhood speaker, endless cups of steaming hot south Indian filter Kaapi over a grand variety of dosas, exotic kolams decorating every doorstep, rude autowallas who refuse to go by the new meter rules and the city’s walls crammed with posters of Carnatic musicians, latest movie releases and the omnipresent ruling queen mother who silently governs the whole scene.....small joys from the famous Margazhi in Madras.... Don’t ask questions....just enjoy the madness!
- Veejay Sai
(Dec 7, 2013, on Facebook)


I feel honoured for being recognised at this age. It’s a feel good factor for an artiste to know that she has not been forgotten or relegated to the background, after contributing a lifetime to the art form. My life has been dedicated to dance. Though I was a performer for a very short period, I went into academics of dance and taught the fine art to all those who had a passion for it. Today, I breathe dance, think dance and dream dance. As one project on hand is nearing completion my mind is already set on the next - be it choreography, composing poems into songs suited to dance, writing books on dance or teaching my disciples.
- Uma Rama Rao
(‘A performer and a mentor,’ by Ranee Kumar, The Hindu, Dec 19, 2013)


We cannot call ourselves ‘swayambhu’ (self-manifested). We are deeply inspired by the rich legacy our ancestors have left behind. At best, we are only carrying on a relay race and passing the baton from one generation to the next. Today, we find artists announcing at the beginning of the concert, “No video or audio recording allowed.” Ironically, if our ancestors had withheld information and not shared their knowledge, we wouldn’t be in the race at all!
- KSR Aniruddha
(‘Another giant step,’ by Hema Ramani & V V Ramani, The Hindu, Dec 19, 2013)


I have never done female items on stage. I prefer to abstain from varnams or javalis that show the nayika bhava. I feel like there are a lot of women doing the nayika bhava pieces, and they do them well; why should I perform them too? It is a personal choice to do male-oriented pieces. I have found two or three javalis in the voice of the man, and I perform them.
- Pavitra Bhat
(‘Purush: The global dancing male’ blog, Dec 20, 2013)


I truly, truly find that sometimes we want to compartmentalise ourselves into only one stuck category. And that’s not true. We are so many. This is why the male has got to integrate the anima, the female has to integrate the animus, in order for the full beam of creativity to come through. And this is why I feel also that the person who is neither just this nor just that is more consummate as an artist.
- Ramli Ibrahim
(‘Purush: The global dancing male’ blog, Dec 20, 2013)


I think this whole thing is a completely artificial divide, and we have to come to terms with it. I don’t see dance gendered at all. I think dance has been polarised between being moral-immoral, male-female, modern-traditional … and they are all bogus binaries. So for me the question doesn’t even enter my mind. It allows you the freedom to be man, woman – very erotic woman, very erotic man – animal, snake, wind…it’s all the same. And I think that should be the focus. That is the focus.
- Navtej Johar
(‘Purush: The global dancing male’ blog, Dec 21, 2013)


I just want to encourage dancers, especially the younger generation, to re-look at dance critically, and not accept everything as the biblical truth. There is no holy grail. It is essential to understand history from a critical point of view. One should not apply value judgements - this is good / bad dancing, good / bad choreography. Why is it good? Why is it bad? One should be informed by one's own training, an understanding of the subject matter and one’s reading of history. I always like to tell people - context. It is very easy to get lost without that. Then we give in to thinking in binaries and absolutes. And binary thinking is also what pervades (spreads) mediocrity.
- Hari Krishnan
(‘Purush: The global dancing male’ blog, Dec 25, 2013)

Music

The traditional format is still largely in place, despite coming under transgression threats and the glam and glory has marched on. Now, we have more performers, more performances, more sabhas, more cut-outs, more talk, more analysis and of course, more music. Quantity is certainly not in short supply. Opinions on quality are bound to be diverse, depending on whom you ask. There are the odd cynicisms and innuendos and there is intense commentary in all forms of media. Media itself has taken a liking to Carnatic music and is welcomed or decried, depending on which end of the spectrum you stand. Carnatic music moved a few notches in creative marketing and branding. News making is now as important as music making. Times are dictating the repertoire and even fidelity of notes and structures.
        So what is in store this year and the coming ones? This writer is always delighted to hear new, young musicians breaking into the scene, with abundant talent and traditional grooming. The gurus should be thanked for this. (What happens to the styles of these talents as they climb the star ladder is often baffling). We may see more changes in formats, programme menus, blurring and even downgrading of compositional significance, the Trinity’s battle for relevance, aggressive self-promotion and marketing by artistes, transfusion of classical and commercial genres, iconisation and blind tailing, elite shows audio and light sophistication, artist branding and maybe Sabha branding as well. The audience world could further metamorphose into a retro-cum-modern entity, driven by musical knowledge chiselled with net and social media strokes.
- Bala Shankar
(‘The Season’s changing colors,’ The Hindu, Dec 1, 2013)


The desire to strike it big on the stage and the thirst to earn plaudits is understandable. However, the fast-track approach to stardom is fraught with peril. That the sincere students pick up the rudiments well and the mode of delivery in terms of rendition with a firm grasp of ragam and talam, need to be highly appreciated. And yet, somewhere, from the deep recesses of the heart an inner voice whispers that not all is well with the system. Where is the lacuna?
       Perhaps a lack of full knowledge and understanding of the lyrics robs the rendition of bhava. Even as the students are being taught, either personally or through Skype overseas, a concurrent session could be conducted delving deep into the import of the lyrics, the philosophy behind the composition, the spiritual proclivity of the vaggeyakara, the nature of the raga and how it had been paired to the theme of the kriti – all backed up by a working knowledge of Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit. Random tips on the etymology of words used in these three languages and how they complement each other without prejudice could be provided as interesting sidelights to heighten the overall appreciation of the music churned out in the process.
- V Kalidas
(‘Call to preserve the rich legacy,’ The Hindu, Dec 1, 2013)


New sabhas, new singers and new upa pakkavadhyam players emerging on the scene…it’s really exciting. It is like an annual examination for me, as my standing in the music field the following year is proportionate to my level of performance during the current season.
- Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan (mridangam)
(‘Team players,’ The Hindu Fri Review, Dec 6, 2013)


The Season means playing for concerts, freewheeling at the canteens at every possible venue and more important, the camaraderie with fellow vidwans - cracking jokes and chatting into the night after concerts.
- N. Guruprasad (ghatam)
(‘Team Carnatic’ by V Balasubramanian, The Hindu, Dec 15, 2013)


We are able to listen to artists from veterans and their lec-dems, and also artists from other States. More important, we get to interact with rasikas from other parts of India and abroad.
- Poongulam Subramaniam (mridangam)
(‘Team Carnatic’ by V Balasubramanian, The Hindu, Dec 15, 2013)


A new generation of good musicians is emerging. However, of late the younger artists appear to be in a rush to perform on stage, which, perhaps, is why some of them are led astray in their quest for making it big quickly. Overexposure at an initial stage could lead to burn-out and the loss of a good voice. Voice culture is not given the importance due to it, unlike in Hindustani music where the much needed ‘Sukha Bhavam’ is inculcated as a sine qua non for a good performer!
- V Kalidas
(‘Going global,’ The Hindu Music & Dance Season, Dec 17, 2013)


Positives first: Friends from the U.S., who we met during our tours, fly down to Chennai and meeting them here is a happy occasion. Learning new pallavis while playing and by listening to others, deepens our understanding of laya.
Negatives: Braving the weather…we have to take care of our health, especially our hands and fingers. We can’t afford to fall sick or injure ourselves.
- Neyveli Skandaasubramaniam (mridangam)
(‘Team Carnatic’ by V Balasubramanian, The Hindu Music & Dance Season, Dec 24, 2013)


Attending concerts of others when I am free is definitely a learning experience. This is not possible during the rest of the year. Visiting canteens and tasting a variety of dishes and having endless discussions with colleagues on the korvais and teermanams played by a vidwan in a particular concert are must-dos. More than anything else, it is the time of year when artistes across genres and instruments, connect.
- Chandrasekara Sharma (ghatam)
(‘Team Carnatic’ by V Balasubramanian, The Hindu Music & Dance Season, Dec 27, 2013)


Every season is like an annual examination. Every time I get on the stage, I have mixed feelings – of immense joy and gripping fear as I have to satisfy both the main and mridangam artistes. That is a challenge. Of course, the rasika is part and parcel of this musical extravaganza.
- Alathur Rajaganesh (ganjira)
(‘Team Carnatic’ by V Balasubramanian, The Hindu Music & Dance Season, Dec 27, 2013)


The spoilsport mikes and audio support – this can really take a toll, people speaking over phones… late comers, especially when the doors are creaky… some members leaving the hall in the middle of the concert, when the violinist begins his alapana or the percussion team takes over for tani avarthanam… why insult musicians like this? If at all one has to leave, do it in the space between two compositions. All musicians have highlighted this but the practice continues.
- Sudha Raghunathan
(‘Success is a journey, not a destination’ by V Balasubramanian, The Hindu Music & Dance Season, Dec 31, 2013)


I am tired of fighting to stay relevant for yet another year. One more year arrives, and I am already tired of the endless stories of people lobbying for awards, bribing X or bribing Y, or being present here or present there. I am truly sorry that I unfortunately just about manage to play one instrument, work with a lot of children, and this just about eats into my time. In addition, there are family responsibilities, and you know - the process of living life. If that's not enough, then too bad. I am happy for all the "award" winners, deserving or not, the newsmakers, the "perpetually attending important social function" types. My resolution for 2014 is to stay irrelevant, make my music when I can and continue to reach children.
- Anil Srinivasan
(Jan 21, 2014 on Facebook)

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