Season talk
- Compiled by Lalitha Venkat


February 25, 2007
What made this season click and what did not... Here are some interesting answers from those who took the trouble to respond to our questions! If any of you who attended the season programs would like to share your ideas too, you are most welcome to send us your answers at narthakionline@gmail.com and we could include your answers too.
V P Dhananjayan (Bharatanaatyam guru)
bkalanjali@gmail.com

Most satisfying program you attended: Mythili Prakash and her brother singing for her at Bharat Kalachar

Favorite performance: Sreelatha Vinod for Brahma Gana Sabha

Favorite costume: Ananda Shankar Jayant's 'Panchatantra'

Favorite item: "Bhaavayami Raghuramam" of Mythili Prakash

Favorite critic: Anjana Rajan

Your most satisfying performance of the season: None

Any suggestion for the season: High time the Sabhas discard the banners on the back curtains.

Something you did not like this season: Parking problem and too many NRI performers without any audience.

Audience etiquette: Very distracting when applauding at wrong places and walking in between items and walking across the front floor when performance is going on, on the stage.

Something that surprised you: Hon Minister M.A Baby's inaugural speech at Music Academy 'Dance Festival.' He said Guru Dhananjayan is his inspiration to admire and enjoy the great depth and beauty of classical dance (Natya) and The Hindu alone not mentioning about his quote the next day.

A noticeable trend: Good turn out for established names in Bharatanaatyam. For instance Sreelatha Vinod drew a big connoisseur audience for her performances, though NO Hindu supplement gave her any review.

Your favorite canteen: Gnanambika at Narada Gana Sabha
Jayanthi Subramaniam (Bharatanatyam dancer/teacher)
jayn61@hotmail.com

Favorite performance: I liked Srikanth and Aswathy's performance for Narada Gana Sabha. Leela Samson's performance at Narada Gana Sabha was nothing dramatic or glamorous but it was pure art that gave such a fullness. Nothing was overdone. It was a neat performance, very satisfying. Sometimes the pace of a performance makes you tired. After seeing hers, I felt so calm, so tranquil.

Favorite item: Thyagaraja composition "nannu vidachi... " by Roja Kannan for Kartik Fine Arts.

Favorite critic: Unless you attend the performances reviewed, it is difficult to say whether the review is correct or not!

Your most satisfying performance of the season: My performance for Kartik Fine Arts my last performance of the season.

Any suggestion for the season: I don't think anything can be really done to remedy the drawbacks. There are too many artistes, so there is pressure on sabhas to accommodate the growing number of performers. For instance, Narada Gana Sabha had performances starting at 2pm itself.

Something you did not like this season: There are too many programs being crammed into 2 months. Much as we would like to watch certain shows, we end up missing most of them. There are now even 3 performances in the evening. The 60 or 75 minutes program duration does not give much satisfaction to the performer. There's a constant tension to finish on time. One is unable to perform in a relaxed manner.
Good orchestra availability is very limited too. There's too much tension and pressure on them. They are not able to rehearse much and they are all strained to the maximum. No one is able to really enjoy the process of performing.

Audience etiquette: I thought the season saw very good audience. This year, they were especially appreciative for dance. Even for youngsters, turnout was good. They knew what to appreciate and what not to. I was very happy with the audience.

Something that surprised you: Since I had already completed 3 performances, when I did my 4th program, I did not expect a crowd. But it was full house at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. I had least expected that, so I was pleasantly surprised and delighted.

A noticeable trend: People are realizing the value of the classical arts. In between, there was a trend towards compulsion to do modern dance. Now youngsters are happy doing margam and sticking on to traditional repertoire with some innovations.
I saw a group from overseas perform. It was innovative, there was lot of energy, but too much speed where people bank on posing and doing flying leaps to catch attention made me feel tired. People don't know how to balance. There is too much acrobatics nowadays in the name of covering the stage.
Another trend is imitation, like trying to imitate Priyadarshini, who is very good in abhinaya. Or Padma Subrahmanyam, but there are certain things that only she can carry off. A lot of dancers are trying to imitate their favorite artist, but this is not really a sign of growth. However well you imitate another, ultimately it should stem from your heart. Mere imitation gives no satisfaction.
V V Ramani (writer / sets & costume designer / artist)

Favorite performance: Swapnasundari's Vilasini Natyam at Narada Gana Sabha was very good. A Lakshman's performance for Brahma Gana Sabha was good too. In the entire Music Academy festival, I liked the morning sessions better than the evenings.

Favorite costume: Lavanya Ananth's at Krishna Gana Sabha was very tasteful. Chandru anna (CV Chandrasekhar) is always elegantly dressed.

Favorite item: Malini Srinivasan's entire margam at the Besant Nagar Pillayar Kovil was neat, nicely done at a leisurely pace. She's a promising dancer. I don't know why everyone wants to cover the stage, cover the audience first!

Favorite critic: Anjana Rajan, Saraswathi Vasudevan.

Something you did not like this season: I attended the NRI festival at Hamsadhwani because I was covering it for The Hindu. On the basis of being an NRI many got the prime slot in the evening, but only a few were good. It was a mixed bag and should have been filtered.
The Krishna Gana Sabha has started a 6pm slot. The 4.30pm slot kutcheris never end on time. So when these concerts exceed their time limit, the subsequent programs get affected and the whole thing is a mess. So programs start late and there's a dwindling audience for the dance performances. For instance, the Nrityagram show was scintillating but it started as late as 8pm. Krishna Gana Sabha should do away with the 6pm slot. It does not work.

Audience etiquette: People walking out in the middle of an item always bothers me. Why not in-between items? The VIP culture during season is bad. They walk in late, amble across to their seats in the first row and an entourage follows sometimes. When they themselves do this, how can we blame the general public? But these VIPs are also under pressure to attend so many performances that they have to hurry here and hurry there and their late entries are inevitable.

Something that surprised you: I was quite surprised to see the neat performances by Lavanya Ananth and Malini Srinivasan. They may not be very well known names but their very elegant, neatly condensed one hour margam was beautiful. At Hamsadhwani, Sudharma performed very well.
Another surprise was, when Padma Subrahmanyam was performing Krishnaaya Thubyam Namaha, the audience was so enthralled that no one even noticed that film actor Kamalahasan came in a little late to watch the performance!

A noticeable trend: Everyone seems to be jumping around the stage. Lots of dancers, seem to be covering the stage with more acrobatics than before in the name of covering the stage.
Anita Ratnam (Neo Bharatam/Contemporary dancer, presenter)
arangham@gmail.com

Most satisfying program you attended: Lakshmi Viswanathan's morning lec-dem at Music Academy.

Your favorite performance: Mythili Prakash, Sudarma Vaidyanathan and Narthaki Nataraj, all three in parts but all excellent!

Favorite costume: My yellow/pitambara kurti in NEELAM

Favorite item: 'The Chant of Goda' in my new solo work NEELAM

Favorite critic: Anjana Rajan, The Hindu

Your most satisfying performance of the season: Music Academy, morning of January 5, 2007

Any suggestion for the season: Don't crowd the schedule with too many dance programs, specially the 6pm slot before the main show at 7.30. That is distracting and dilutes the presence of the senior dancer.

Something you did not like this season: Inane lec dems and dance conferences with nothing new to say or show. The same bored crowds and during interactions with the audience, one or two P-I-A (pain in the ...) imbeciles asking questions to show off their own ignorance!

A humorous moment: Most of the lec-dem performers boldly hinting that they should be invited for the evening programs. Not knowing that a lec-dem is more difficult to present! It was more ironic than laughable!

Audience etiquette: Getting worse! Rude, undisciplined and careless.

Something that surprised you: Fantastic crowds in January for the Music Academy season and lighting requirements being granted by the Academy organizers for all dancers.

A noticeable trend: Costumes in the colour blue, better lighting sense for some dancers and more recorded music being used. Hurray! At last!

Your favorite canteen: Narada Gana Sabha wins hands down. Pongal, Vadai, Upuma... all fabulous! Sometimes much better than the standard of the concert indoors!
Kathadi S Ramamurthy (Theatre, TV and film artiste)
kamalam06@dataone.in

Most satisfying program you attended: Navagraha Ula by children students of Krishnakumari Narendran.

Your favorite performance: Classical dance with some fast movements without much deviation.

Favorite costume of a dancer: Traditional dance costume

Favorite dance item: Thillana

Favorite critic: Subbudu!!

Your most satisfying performance of the season: For theatre performing artistes, satisfaction is a mirage and you feel that you could have still performed better.

Any suggestion for the season: Too many performances by same artistes can be avoided.

Something you did not like this season: Repetition of programs.

A humorous moment: Not properly pasted mustache!

Audience etiquette: Is it there?

Something that surprised you: Wonderful performances by juniors.

A noticeable trend: Teenagers attending Carnatic music concerts

Your favorite canteen: Gnanambika at Narada Gana Sabha
A S (audience member)

Most satisfying program you attended: Leela Samson at Music Academy

Favorite critic: Nobody

Any suggestion for the season: Needs a far better system in terms of organizing / choosing artistes, more support for the arts from sponsors / corporates, so that artistes don't have to fund their own performances!

Something you did not like this season: Cat walk and fashion show kinda choreography in Ananda Shankar's 'Panchatantra'!

Audience etiquette: Not bad.

Something that surprised you: Wish there was indeed something...

A noticeable trend: Athletic dance, drawing attention to physical movements than sharing just the joy of dancing...

Your favorite canteen: Didn't visit one.