exponent Sitara Devi passed away in the early hours of November 25,
2014 at Mumbai. She was 94. She was a recipient of prestigious awards
like Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Padma Shri and Kalidas Samman
You will be reading this as I land in the US on my final trip across the Atlantic for the year. In rehearsals for my very first on stage performance with musicians Anil Srinivasan and Sikkil Gurucharan, our 7 year collaboration through discussions and recordings has been revamped and re-styled for a diverse North American audience. SPIRALS, a convergence of dance, music and theatre, is the spine of the November 6th evening in Washington DC. An hour long presentation, it has taken several hours of discussion and debate as to how to divide the attention, lighting and overall “tone” of the evening. With the two musicians having worked together for so long, their synergy and chemistry is more sedate and calm. A generation apart, my own trajectory has been diverse – using props, silence, spoken voice and dramatic arcs in performance. How can we achieve a seamless whole while being true to our personalities and the art? Will the musicians look at me while I perform or will they be lost in their closed eyes and waving hands syndrome? The moment of “theatre” is so strong in a dancer and yet the classical Indian musician relies on improvisation and on the spot inspiration.
Dancers and musicians are working together more and more. Look at the spate of recent synergies between both genres. Valli and Bombay Jayashri, Malavika and Aruna Sairam, Vishaka Hari and Urmila Satyanarayana, Shobana with Ranjit Barot, Leela Samson and Bombay Jayashri (again), Geeta Chandran and Sudha Raghuraman, Priyadarsini Govind and TM Krishna- the list keeps growing. The challenge for the dancer is always the collaborative ‘spirit’ and intention with which this confluence happens. Bharatanatyam dancer Urmila Satyanarayana, shared the process of 10 months over which she had to fly to Srirangam and skype with Harikatha star performer Vishaka Hari for her recent presentation WOMEN OF WISDOM. Invariably, the singer dominates the show with the dancer learning the repertoire of the musician and adapting the choreography accordingly. And, the stage positioning is also tricky. The concert divas and devas often refuse to sit on the sides- like a traditional dance orchestral arrangement – and demand to share the stage space with the dancer. Visually awkward to say the least. Still, this melange augurs well for dance since most of us are held ransom by the avaricious and lazy dance musicians who have been almost wholly corrupted by the torrential downpour of the dollar! Imagine senior artistes who cannot even get a SINGLE REHEARSAL with their orchestra until the day of the performance! That is the state of dance music in Chennai. And so it is recorded scores that have FINALLY found their way into the main December season. All sabhas have accepted that it is almost impossible to demand live accompanists and, except for the Madras Music Academy, who continue to pride themselves as the “upholders of the tradition” and insisting on a live orchestra, other presenters have given way to technology and the need of the hour.
Akademi presented Masters of Abhinaya
Nov 1, 2014 at Rich Mix, London
Photos: Vipul Sangoi
Jai Govinda (Bharatanatyam): Nov 4
Jayarama Rao (Kuchipudi): Nov 4
Kishore Mosalikanti (Kuchipudi): Nov 5
Lata Pada (Bharatanatyam): Nov 7
Rajashree Shirke (Kathak): Nov 15
Nandini Ramani (Bharatanatyam): Nov 18
Uma Sharma (Kathak): Nov 20
Melattur S Natarajan (Bhagavatamela): Nov 30
"Art is nothing tangible. We cannot call a painting ‘art’ as the words ‘artifact’ and ‘artificial’ imply. The thing made is a work of art made by art, but not itself art. The art remains in the artist and is the knowledge by which things are made."
- Ananda Coomaraswamy
We are regular viewers of Narthaki and we appreciate your effort to connect the artists with the rasikas and the aesthetic world of art.
- Monami Nandy, Kolkata
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