Thursday, 18 August 2016

“ Dancing Drums” A Report - August 2016 - Shivakumar Pandithar


Dancing Drums - A Report - August 2016
A Report - Shivakumar Pandithar
spandithar@yahoo.com













“Dancing Drums”
 Poona Keraleeya Samaj
Alpabachat Bhavan,Pune
13th August 2016


Cine artist and Contemporary dancer Shobhana and her troupe presented their production “ Dancing Drums” for the Poona Keraleeya Samaj, at Alpabachat Bhavan,Pune on 13th August 2016. 

        The dances were traditional steps on the modern beats and remixed lyrics. Use of acrobat in the presentation were well executed. The costumes were excellent,  in some items they seemed they were inspired by the Oriental style of dance costumes. It was a mix of traditional Bharatanatyam  and Oriental style co-existing on the stage. The cine artists abhinaya was good throughout. Dramatization of the other artists were perfect too.  Synchronized dance and culmination into beautiful formation was hallmark of the presentation. Dances with lot of energies was always to see. The evening saw the fushion of many dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Mohiniattam into contemporary dance steps. 

   The item on dancing drums with various percussion instruments being played by the dancers was good and was well appreciated by the audience.  During the entire event the themes were displayed in the background screen , sometimes those would take away the attention of the audience from the artists performing on the stage. 

   Though multimedia aided the show but too much sometimes spoils the fun. Props were used to enhance the presentations. It was an amalgamation of various topics in the whole evening. The last item on Hanuman Chalisa was bit stretched in artistic presentation, definitely it would not be welcomed to hear the sacred verse at a wrong place where we would normally find remixed hip hop only. 

Dances were good.
Pandithar Sivakumar Perumal

Reports, pandithar sivakumar, aug16, (C), Priyalasya, mohiniyattam,  bharatanatyam, kathak, odissi, kuchipudi, manipuri, classical dance, dance
Do Not Copy, Copyrights Acknowledged

Monday, 18 April 2016

"PriyaLasya Classical Dance Platform" * Interactive with Prathibha Prahlad * March 2016

"PriyaLasya Classical Dance Platform" * Interactive with Prathibha Prahlad * March 2016


Interactive with renowned dancer Prathibha Prahlad:
"I feel that one role merges into another"


Introduction:

Prathibha Prahlad, is a celebrated Indian Bharatanatyam dancer whose multi- faceted personality reflects in the outstanding work she continues to do in the arts field. Her contribution goes much beyond her own trail- blazing dance career which has taken her to prestigious platforms all over the world. A cultural visionary, besides being a star performer of Bharatanatyam, her work the field of arts is profound and unparalleled in contemporary dance history. Starting her performance career at the age of 6, she was hailed a star before she turned 20.

The Prasiddha Foundation was established in 1991 with the purpose of fostering love and appreciation for all forms of art and to work through the medium of arts for the promotion of national and international cultural contact.

In recognition of her services to Indian Classical Dances, she was recently honored by Government of India with "Padma Sri" award. We get in touch with her and get her response and discuss what plans she has for future through her dance.

First of all, our heartiest Congratulations for the prestigious Padma Sri from Government of India. Your response when you came to know of the announcement of the Honor? How did you feel?

I was happy of course that I was considered for this award. More, I was relieved that it had finally been announced. Every year, people I met would keep saying that they wished I had got it, they were surprised that I was not part of the list of awardees etc etc. So much so , that when I went on stage, organisers would announce that I was a PADMA awardee !!!! I had to begin my speech on so many occasions saying that I was not a PADMA awardee. At least that was taken care of now.​ ​

Who are the people that need to be mentioned, those who inspired on this journey as (..or even events) that you think helped you in giving your best to classical dance and to attain such a special award?


I find it really cliched when people start thanking persons important when they get the award. It is so 'filmy'. I was always very driven. If I put my heart & soul into something, I made sure I excelled.Thats the kind of person I am. I did watch a performance of Yamini Krishnamurthy when I was 4 , perched on my father's shoulders and I was fascinated. My learning began then. But my parents got to know I was learning two years later, when the teacher wanted me to go on stage for a childrens event. ​

I decided to be a professional dancer when I heard a constant refrain in Bangalore that "Bangalore dancers were not nationally recognised"​ ​ and 'could never be top of the line'. For me , this was a challenge. I had to prove others wrong and I had to prove to myself that I could be a "nationally famous dancer​" too , despite coming from Bangalore. So I worked really hard and spent almost 12 hours a day learning and practising. My mother Smt. Prema Prahlad was a great source of support. She was liberal and understanding. My partner Sri. Ramakrishna Hegde also believed in me and my dance. I am grateful for their presence in the crucial years of my life. ​

I am of course grateful to my gurus , especially Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan and Sri. Muthuswamy Pillai , both of whom had immense confidence that I would "make it big" as a professional dancer. And then there was my mridangist Sri. V.P Ramdoss , who was a pillar of support. It is very sad that none of them is alive today to share my success. ​

You are a Performing Artist, a Teacher, a Choreographer, Organizer - How do you feel about each of the roles.



​ I feel that one role merges into another. I started off as a dancer and along the way ​ ​began teaching. When you grow with your art form, there is an urge to explore, innovate and choreograph. Little by little , the envelope is extended. The choreography part has to be organic. You have to feel the need to explore and innovate. One cannot do it just because others are or because it is contemporary to do so!​ ​

How do you find time to handle such demanding roles.. besides family responsibility?
​​
I live and grow in all my roles everyday. Life and art cannot be kept apart. For me, my life is my dance and my dance is my life. Anything and everything to do with dance , music , theatre and other art forms drive me. They keep me alive.​ ​It is very ,very difficult to be a single parent with no support system​ and be an artiste. Most often, you keep wondering whether you are doing the right thing. Art vascillates between extreme discipline on the one hand and lack of displine on many others, while parenting requires and constancy. It is tough. Of course the financials and keeping a stable home is a big challenge. My attitude is -"I just have to do it" and so "smile and do it".​

Changing times and traditions, how do you see the classical dances being taught, on new choreographic works, on upholding Parampara?
​ ​
We are living in the information age. So, it is hard to keep distinctons between paramparas etc. I find everything a happy, healthy mix.One does not see sharp differences or distinctions between styles as earlier.​ ​Lots of times, choreographies etc are copied all the time. In India , we do not have strict patenting for artistic works, especially performing arts. So, everyone does everything, after seeing it or maybe imitating. The only difference is in how they do it. I find the "soul" missing most times , while the body moves to perfection.The "soul" to me is the distinctive factor between dancers and that is really what I want to see.​ ​

About dreams that you were able to realize through your works, some may have been remaining unrealized, if so about them.. And about your vision for the future?

​ I have pretty much lived my life on my own terms and have paid a heavy price for it. I love Bharatanatyam​. I learnt it from great gurus and tried my best ​ to do it well. Whenever something inspired me - maybe literature, maybe lyrics, maybe music, maybe just an idea, I explored and did it. So , I dont feel unfulfilled​ as an artiste. What I absolutely hate is politics in dance and I try my best to be out of it.

My future is going to be much of the same thing. I have hopes for the Delhi International Arts Festival blossoming into the most sought after Festival in the world. If it can reach where it has in 9 years, and with not much support, just imagine where it can reach if all agencies and Government organizations involved in the deliberation of the arts come together. I would like the cultural centre that I wish to build in Bangalore become a true multi-arts Centre with free flow of ideas and artistic expressions.

*Wish your dream of Multi-arts Centre in Bangalore turns to reality soon. Thank you for your responses and once again Congratulations
Contributer- Bhavanvitha (bhavanvitha@gmail.com)

*******

Credits & Keywords- Padmasri, Prathibha Prahlad, Bhratanatyam, Kuchipudi, Interactive, M16-25-1, Do Not Copy,
Copyrights Acknowledged,Feb16, PriyaLasya, Hamara, (C)
*Information as provided by contributor. All views are of the contributor

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Bharatanatyam Performance - Sacred Dance - Adhikaara nandi Utsavam - Kapaleeswarar Temple - Chennai - March 2016



Chi. Sugathan Mohandass – A Kalakshetra Alumnus and The Secretary of Sri Sumukhi Rajasekharan Memorial Foundation performed a “Sacred Dance” in front of “Adhikaara Nandhi Vahanam” at Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore, for the 4th year on the eve of Adhikaara Nandi Utsavam (15-3-2016) for the famous Song “Kaana Kankodi Vendum… Adhikaara Nandhi Sevaithanai” (a Tamizh Keertanam composed by Shri. Papanasam Sivan on Lord Kapaleeswarar and Goddess Karpagambal - Mylapore). 

He also danced to “Ganga Stothram” the verses of Shri. AdhiShankaracharyar in a very vibrant manner since his body, mind and soul had immensely soaked in the sacred Ganges in Kasi, after his pilgrimage to Varanasi last summer-that was the impact of Kasi on him. He has created a niche for himself in Divine Dancing for God. 

The devotees at Kapali temple not only had a darshan of Adhikaara Nandi Vahanam but also the divine dance of the Sugathan in complete veneration. Adding on to the pious flavor, this year Sugathan for the first time performed with full dance costume with salangai which was a visual treat to one and all. The spell bound audience expected few more numbers but he could not continue as it was already late in the night.
Every year, special Pooja is organized on the previous day night of the “Adhikaara Nandhi” Festival by the “Thandarai Vaidhyar” Family – The Donors of the Silver Kavacham of the Adhikaara Nandhi Vahanam (1917). It is the 99th year completion of the donorship. This Family has been closely associated with The Mylapore Trio’s (S. Amarnath, S. Surendranath, S. Aparna) Parents Late. Smt. Sumukhi, Shri. Rajasekharan & Grand Mother Smt. Nagammal for many generations. and Sugathan is fostered by “The Mylapore Trio”. Hence, this Blessed & Rare opportunity for Chi. Sugathan to perform on this auspicious occasion and he wishes & prays to continue his divine dancing throughout for the Almighty….


suganthan mohandass, (C), Sri Sumukhi Rajasekharan Memorial Foundation, Mar16, Bharatanatyam, Kapaleeswarar Temple, Do not copy, Copyrights Acknowledged, 15

Saturday, 12 March 2016

'Samskritam-Natyam’ on Feb. 8th, 2016 - A Report

‘Samskritam-Natyam’: A beautiful presentation by Lakshmi Mani & Naveena

--SaarasvataSamiti Club, M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women



As part of its ‘Samskritotsava’, the popular institution of Chennai, the M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women, Nungambakkam, invited renowned Kuchipudi exponent, Lakshmi Mani and her daughter, Naveena to present the topic, ‘Samskritam-Natyam’ on Feb. 8th, 2016 at the College premises at 2pm. The institution, reputed for its co-curricular activities, meant to expose its Sanskrit students to the manifold presence of the divine language as seen in Indian arts, by way of its Club, ‘Saarasvata-Samiti’. While the topic itself is notable for its sheer range, the lucid yet vivid presentation proved to be a wholesome treat of enlightenment and entertainment.

Lakshmi Mani brings with her several decades of beautiful artistry and universal accolades for exquisite abhinaya. Her daughter, Naveena proved to be a riveting speaker, her erudition and ready wit keeping the audience spell-bound. Together, the duo regaled the audience of young students, leaving them yearning for more.

The topic was viewed from two clear perspectives and was enriched by aptly-curated Powerpoint slides—

> Works on Natya, which are in Sanskrit

> Works in Sanskrit, with Natya as an important component.

Starting with works in Natya which are written in Sanskrit, Naveena coursed through a plethora of works, both popular and lesser-known, carefully choosing the salient and peculiar aspects to let students have a holistic view. Lacing her lecture with anecdotes and quotations, many extempore, the speaker succeeded in establishing a rapport with her audience steadily. Apart from the Natya Sastra, Abhinaya Darpana and Nrtta Ratnavali, students were informed of works such as Nartana Nirnaya, Shringaraprakasha, Nataka Lakshana Ratnakosha, et al.

Moving on to the presence of the varied aspects of dance as spotted in Sanskrit works, the speaker sprung a surprise onto the students by stating that the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet emanated at the end of Shiva’s cosmic dance, from his Damaru. While quoting relevant passages/verses from famed works such as Malavikaagnimitram, Vikramorvashiyam, Gitagovinda, Krishna Leela Tarangini, popular devotional hymns, etc. the speaker also gave glimpses of some metrical arrangements (vrtta) in poetry, which correspond with musical rhythmic structures (gati). Certain beautiful embellishments(alankaras) were also highlighted. The speaker also proved her versatility by singing a few Sanskrit compositions of later composers such as Maharaja Swati Tirunal, Annamacharya and Oothukkadu Venkata Subbaiyer.

The Talk was informative, without being pedantic, while also involving the students in activities like Mookakelih(dumb-charades with Sanskrit words/phrases), a quiz on meaning/etymology of often-used words, various Indian classical dances, the varied ways to interpret a single phrase in dance, etc., all of which pushed the borders of creativity and thinking of the student-audience.

Lakshmi Mani proved a master of her craft in her Kuchipudi demonstration. Presenting a rare Tarangam, glorifying the Lord Venkateshwara, her depiction of the story of Haathi Ram Babaji, a great saint-devotee of the Lord, was especially a visual treat in the way the characters were beautifully contrasted. The item culminated with the dance on the brass-plate as per the custom of Kuchipudi dance and this was greeted by the audience with astonishment and appreciation. To say it was an afternoon well-spent is to simply understate!

- Saraasvata Samiti

Samskritam-Natyam, Report, (C), Mar16, Samskritotsava, Chennai, Contributor, Do not copy, Copyrights Acknowledged, 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Challangers & Detractors; Intolerance - Artist Perspective


While I was reading an article written by an Artist, came across the two words that mystify an Artist. Challengers and Detractors! (Add Intolerance too?).This was in the context of being confronted on their artistic expressions in dance or art. 

An Artist who feels that their ideas or that they themselves are being challenged, misinterpreted or facing intolerance gives an impression that society is constraining them in expression of their artistic-thoughts. Is it always true? 

Going down the unbeaten path happens naturally with passage of time (compulsion at times) and the hardship does not by itself accrue upon the artist. That there is resistance, that they are challengers and that there could be detractors.. is a feeling that would negate their thought process. 
Very often, it may even happen due to lack of planning! (Else how would you explain the resistance?) At least in most cases, that could be the case.

An Artist Expression is deliberate at times so as to build this feeling of suffocation on his or her Target Audience. When viewed from such "needles eye" of suspicion, an Artist is then expected to use the words of Challangers & Detractors. If not, it is Marketing the Emptiness of the Artist's Work. 


The path to feeling that ones work is constrained by the "challengers & detractors" may be detrimental in the long run. There are some artists that follow this path believing that the "shock" would gain the momentum in their career. Risky. 
(C), PriyaLasya, Do Not Copy, Copyrights Acknowledged

Monday, 7 September 2015

Conversation with Sri Prabal Gupta about his recent dance production "Cleopatra" - September 2015

Conversation with Sri Prabal Gupta about his recent dance production "Cleopatra"

Introduction:

"Cleopatra", a new dance production choreographed by renowned Kathakali exponent Prabal Gupta was recently presented to Bangalore audience as a part of his Silver Jubilee Celebration and won an all round appreciation. The event was supported by ICCR in collaboration with National Gallery of Modern Arts. 

 Prabal Gupta- Cleopatra

A production like Cleopatra in classical dance is rare  and a herculean task and hence  I approached Prabal for his insights and views on his attempts to execute this research experimental production. Apart from Cleopatra, he also presented lady Macbeth, an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth in Kathakali last year to commemorate  450 years of Shakespeare.  

 His Chitrangada- the story of a warrior princess in love with Pandava Prince Arjuna, was another powerful character that he chose earlier where the narrative was readily suitable for an Indian classical dance form, though challenge was not less. 

Conversation:

How you chose Cleopatra for your dance production? 

 I was extremely bewildered as what to do unique for my silver jubilee celebration.I was thinking of working on Desdemona from Shakespeare's Othello when Guru Smt. Usha Venkateshwaran ji advised me to work upon Cleopatra, as no one has attempted it. I seriously thought about it and requested Shankar Rajaram ji to write a script choosing verses from Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra. It was hard as the drama is not very easy, much tougher than Macbeth or Othello. But thanks to God that all happened perfectly. 

Prabal Gupta - Macbeth

Obviously different from Chitrangada... but can you add a few contrasting points? 

 Sri Rabindranath Tagore's Chitrangada is very different. Kabi Guru Rabindranath Tagore was a contemporary poet  and hence most of his works reflects the contemporary society. Chitrangada is not an exception. It is an erotic love story. 

The character Chitrangada is Indian and Cleopatra is a Western character. Did you face any challenge choreographing a Western Character? Having said that I won't mind if you  throw light about Chitrangada and lady Macbeth.   

   Choreographing a Western character in the genre of Kathakali was extremely challenging. After the verses were written, I sat with my Guru Sri Sadanam Balakrishnanji to decide on the ragas. The ragas were chosen based on the moods of the character and the scenes. Composing the music with the lyrics written in Sanskrit was nevertheless an easy task. The music is composed by Sadanam Sivadasan in the traditional Kathakali style of singing. The choreography is done by myself. 

   Chitrangada is though a character from Mahabharata is rewritten by Tagore.  Tagore's work portrays the contemporary society. All the songs of Chitrangada has an explicit sexual lurch. Chitrangada was brought up as a man devoid of all feminine attributes unless she sees Arjuna, the most seductive man on earth and fell in love. 

  Arjuna rejects her...because of her manly looks. Chitrangada decides to teach Arjuna that beauty is not mere physical. She approaches  Madana to transform her into a beautiful damsel. She is transformed into a seductress. Arjuna falls for her, follows are passionate scenes of love making. But when Arjuna hears about the real Chitrangada, he wants to her. Chitrangada transform to her own self. Arjuna understands that beauty isn't mere physical. 

   (Comparing with Cleopatra) Cleopatra is the most beautiful woman on Earth perhaps even the damsels of heaven would look like servants beside her. She was in love with Anthony,  Leave aside the political backdrop..the story is also relevant to the contemporary theme. But unlike Chitrangada which ends in a union, Cleopatra ends on a tragic note. Cleopatra cannot bear the death of Anthony. .who dies out of a misunderstanding. Cleopatra makes the poisonous snake bite them and dies too 


You dance Kathakali and your head gear for Cleopatra is of different tradition 

  Cleopatra wears a head gear with a snake. Now if I have to fit into Kathakali format, I felt choosing the Nangiar Koothu Kireetam would be apt for the character. Many Kathakali aficionados were present among the rasikas. They praised me for choosing the same. 

What was the reception for the performance? 

 I never expected that I will have a house full show 

Thanks Prabal Gupta ji. I expected the tremendous reception. Wish you all the best and Yes, a big thank you for your insights 

Prabal Gupta, Cleopatra, Papers, Interactive, Report, Kathakali, Dance Production, Bangalore, Sep2015, Prabal Gupta, Sep2015,  chitrangada, macbeth, kathakali,conversation