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Narthaki Monthly Newsletter

May 2015

Anita says.....

As I write this month's message, I learn of the earthquake in Nepal. That, alongside the dance-quake that occurred throughout India on April 29th (World Dance Day) would have been enough for an entire month of contemplation and recouping for body and spirit.

It is precisely when these natural calamities happen close to the heels of performances that we  are called to question the place of the arts in our lives. In Nepal the earthquake devastated temples, precious memories of history and civilization and more than 6000 lives. (The death toll is climbing as you read this). Around the world more than 20,000 dancers must have celebrated WDD in some way or another. Social media was groaning with the avalanche of images from dancers who were celebrating in so many ways. Bangalore and Delhi were in the national spotlight with large scale events and flash mobs took shoppers in Chennai and Bombay by surprise.

In the USA, none of the major dailies or TV channels even mentioned the event. While dance is highly valued and given an independent stature in North American societies, April 29th came and went in a blur of political debate about Hillary Clinton and her push for the Presidential nomination. Hillary has a huge task ahead of her. While there is a deep divide about her political future in the White House, American TV and Film seem to be ahead of the curve about rising female power in public life. Remember the 2002 character David Palmer in the hit TV series "24"? He was an African American President and was hailed as the marker for the entry of Barrack Obama into the White House. It was widely referred to as the DAVID PALMER EFFECT. Now TV is flooded with powerful female protagonists.

You look around and women are ruling the roost. VEEP, SECRETARY OF STATE, SCANDAL, REVENGE, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, DIVERGENT, the HUNGER GAMES series, THE REAL HOUSEWIVES series, Detective Kate Beckett in CASTLE... it goes on and on... Yet in the land of the free and home of the brave, yours truly has been already slapped with increasing racism on the streets of liberal California and eclectic New York. While drifting through a farmer's market with my friend on a lazy Saturday in Los Angeles, a cowboy boots and Prada carrying white woman walked past me (I was wearing jeans and a sweater) muttering "Brown b... ch" and in New York's Chinatown, a middle aged white man asked me how I spoke such good English being an Arab since my eyes were lined with kajal. Now really???????

Read more....


A few years ago, I had obtained from the Archaeological Survey of India the measurements of the traditional halls attached to temples, the mandapas of Tamil Nadu that are also called natya-mandirs elsewhere. The results showed that except for the two Brihadesvara temples at Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram that were indeed very large, the rest were usually between 200 and 650 square feet. They could thus permit audiences of only some 30-40 to a maximum of 80 or so. Thus, had it not been for the liberation of these arts from the temple or the kothi-haveli, they would never have been viewed by many hundreds or even a couple of thousand at the same time. It is needless to say that the dance steps and floor plans had also to be edited and modified to suit the needs of a front-facing audience that the higher-level Western proscenium stage demanded, rather than carry on the earlier uni-directional salutations.
(‘Salvaging and sanitising classical dance’ by Jawahar Sircar, The Asian Age, April 28, 2015)

In the news

- The Dept of Performing Arts at Alliance University, Bangalore, bestowed NRITHYA SARASWATHI award on Chitra Visweswaran, Lakshmi Vishwanathan, Ananda Shankar Jayant, Dr. Anuradha Jonnalagadda and Geeta Chandran. The NRITHYA BRAHMA on Vempati Ravi Shankar, NRITHYA VACHASPATI on Dr. Sunil Kothari, on 27 April 2015. 

- On April 26, 2015 at Mumbai, Rachana Sansad / Brahmnaad Academy conferred BRAHMA RATNA on Hema Malini and Dr. Kanak Rele; BRAHMA PADMA on Darshana Jhaveri, Dr. Sunil Kothari, Ashit Desai, Dr. Sandhya Purecha and Dr. BM Sundaram; KANAK RATNA on Deepak Majumdar; KANAK BHUSHAN on Keertana Ravi, Rupak Mehta, Mugdha Mane and Neha Muthiyan


- A Million Sitas: an epitome of imagination by Nita Vidyarthi
Anita Ratnam’s dramatic entry on stage for portrayal of a different take on the age-old meek Sita, had the spectators awed.

- Young dancers at ‘The World of Dance’ by Dr. S. D. Desai
Seventeen young dancers of varying classical forms performed at Darpana Academy’s ‘The World of Dance’ (April 1 to 6).

- Bharata by Ganesh Vasudeva by Priya Das
Ganesh Vasudeva presented his Bharata – The Quintessential Male Dancer in San Francisco on April 11, 2015. 

- Shinjan Nrityalaya’s tribute to Gurus Raghunath Dutta and Kelucharan Mohapatra by Nita Vidyarthi
Aloka Kanungo and her institution Shinjan Nrityalaya, organized an evening of Odissi dance in memory of her gurus Raghunath Dutta and Kelucharan Mohapatra.

- Artistic India in Agartala by KK Gopalakrishnan
Natya Samagama showcased contemporary theatre practices and diverse cultural expressions.

- Beautiful movements by Sharmila Basu Thakur
Anita Ratnam’s latest solo dance-theatre, A Million Sitas, was staged as part of Pratibimb at G.D. Birla Sabhagar.
- Indian culture in every muscle, from eyelid to fingertip by Alastair Macaulay
Watching Indian dance, this Westerner can only miss nuances obvious to many Indians, while making other connections.

- Story in Bones by Shanta Gokhale
In Across, Not Over, choreographed by Preethi Athreya, performed by Vikram Iyengar, two forms of dance interact to produce a third, equally valid form.

- Bold storytelling in ‘Naga Women’ brings the heroines of mythology to life by Terence Toh
Experienced theatre actresses show us why Helen of Troy and Puteri Saadong shouldn’t be messed with.



- Sanjali’s Pravaha Festival by Poornima Gururaja
Sanjali Center for Odissi Dance and its director Sharmila Mukerjee hosted the Pravaha festival at Bangalore’s Seva Sadan on 19th April. 

- Dancethon on World Dance Day
Ashish Khokar and Alliance Francaise de Bangalore created a "dancethon,” a non-stop 12 hour daylong event featuring over 108 dancers in a single day.
- To fall is to rise by Supreeta Singh
Called ‘Watershed’, Sapphire Quarterly Series presented its 20th quarter completing five glorious years on March 27 at ICCR, Kolkata.

- A night of spirituality and tradition by Neha Nataraj
‘Vibhava’ was hosted by Three Aksha in collaboration with senior dance Guru C. V. Chandrasekhar.

Book reviews

- An invaluable treasure for Indian Classical Dance by George S Paul
‘Natya-Yoga Darshana’ authored by Dr. Vasundhara Doraswamy.
- In praise of Kathak by Shyamhari Chakra
The book authored by Kathak exponent Uma Dogra aptly sums up her “labour of love” carefully crafted over the past five years.


- Sai Arts International presents Sai Nrityotsav 72
May 1, 2015 Bangalore

- Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Jayanti Bhagavata Mela Natya Nataka Sangam
Presents 75th Bhagavata Mela Nataka Mahotsav

May 7 - 21, 2015 Melattur

- Divya Kasturi and Watford Palace Theatre present Forgot Your Password?
May 9 & 12, 2015 UK
- - Sujit Vaidya premieres Swapna-Maya
May 16, 2015 Vancouver

- Chinmaya Naada Bindu presents 5th Naada Bindu Festival
May 29 - 31, 2015 Kolwan, Pune

- Tridhara presents Debasmruti Festival
May 30, 2015 Bhubaneswar


Workshops & Announcements

- Nadam and Ananya organize
Abhinaya workshop by Bragha Bessell

May 1 - 7, 2015 Bangalore

- Mahagami hosts
Sadhana-17th Residential Gurukul Camp

May 1 to 15, 2015 Aurangabad

- Tridhara presents
International Odissi Dance Workshop

May 1 - 29, Bhubaneswar

- Smitalay presents
Odissi Workshop by Jhelum Paranjape

May 8-10, 15-17, 2015 Mumbai

- Attakkalari presents
Bharatanatyam workshop by Minal Prabhu

May 11 – 22, 2015 Bangalore

- Lshva presents workshop
Tala Analytics 2 by Kiran Subramanyam

May 15 – 17, 2015 Bangalore

- Gati presents
Underwater Workshop with Kitsou Dubois

May 25 – 27, 2015 New Delhi

- Manasa presents Odissi dance workshops
by Sharon Lowen

June 14 – July 5, 2015 Delhi
Register by May 31, 2015

Roving Eye: A section of impressions, images and inspirations
Curated by Anita Ratnam

This section reflects my inspirations and moods as my feet and mind travel this amazing planet.  Thank you all for the positive response to the earlier editions of Roving Eye.
Enjoy.. If you have something interesting to share, send it to

Slide show

Anita Ratnam presented A Million Sitas
On April 18, 2015 at Desmania Design Studio, New Delhi
Photos: Aryaman Prasad

Base Notes by Shanta Serbjeet Singh

- Sangeet Natak Akademi’s New General Council
By the time this edition of Base Notes is up, the new Governing Council of the national Sangeet Natak Akademi would have been constituted and functioning.

Seen and Heard by Lakshmi Vishwanathan

- Facial distractions
I see all around nowadays dancers doing their best to assume expressions which are either unaesthetic,  exaggerated or simply ugly.

- Magic in the air
Dance and Chidambaram are an inseparable concept.

Roses & Thorns

- Some questions need to be asked by Madhavi Puranam
Can you ask questions, raise issues, and seek answers? No, you dare not. The powers that be will come down hard and reduce you to the status of a pariah, a social outcast, an English word of pure Tamil origin.

Ratikant Mohapatra calling...

- Life after Guruji
Circumstances did not give me the opportunity to mourn in private, the death of my father and my guru.


Obit / Tribute

- Karunambal G Pillai, daughter of Kuppiah Pillai, sister of Guru T.K. Kalyanasundaram Pillai and wife of A.T. Govindaraj Pillai, of Sri Rajarajeshwari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, Mumbai, passed away on April 29, 2015. She was the fourth generation of dance gurus tracing her lineage which started from Venkatakrishna Nattuvanar. She taught dance along with her husband from the day the school was founded in 1945. She trained many brilliant students. Damayanti Joshi, Kamini Kaushal, Nalini Jayawant, Guru Mani of Kalasadan, Praveena Vashi, Sudha Chandrasekher, Lakshmi Iyer, Jayam and Asha Amarnath are some of her well known disciples.

- Remembering Maya by Madhu Nataraj Kiran

Photos courtesy: Natya Institute


- Education in spiritual values through Bharatanatyam: Part VII
Art of teaching: Some methods and approaches
by Chandra Anand
Dance teaching consists of demonstrating the use of gestures in specific ways for indicating or expressing one’s emotions and feelings.

- Audience: The tug of the credulous and the credible by Ramaa Venugopalan
Audience – the most important factor for any Bharatanatyam performer. We grouse about the audience a lot.

- An African spell by Priti Mastakar
6’ 2” I thought, the hair was in dark long locks; the dance moves had the feeling of controlled, tightly coiled energy, smooth and effortless.

- ‘Salvaging and sanitising’ classical dance by Jawahar Sircar
Several dance forms were considered ‘sleazy’ for elitist audiences but reformers repackaged and made them acceptable.

- Evolving group choreographies in India by Sharon Lowen
Artistic possibilities of a group add other ingredients to the available options to delight an audience through dance.
- Are British dancers really outclassed on the world stage? by Judith Mackrell
Akram Khan, Hofesh Shechter and Lloyd Newson have complained about the quality of graduates of the UK’s top dance schools. But a good dance education is not only about performance.

New Releases

- Nartanam XV No 1 is a special issue on FOLK DANCES OF ODISHA. This issue has 50 colour plates to showcase the vibrant folk colours.

- “Indian Classical Dance: The Renaissance and Beyond”
By Leela Venkataraman
Published by Niyogi Books
Price: Rs.2500



- Prof. A. Janardhanan compiled by Lalitha Venkat
Aryambath Janardhanan is a well known exponent of Kathakali and Bharatanatyam.

Look out for

- An impressive young lady
9 year old Amira Willighagen from Holland

- FAQ: Copyright and Dance by Ranjana Dave
After speaking at ‘Joining the Dots 2015,’ Lawrence Liang compiled a list of FAQs on copyright and dance.

- Dr.Vempati Chinna Satyam’s Kuchipudi dance demonstration in USA in 1984

- Padmalakshmi
Padmalakshmi, the protagonist with her yogic powers creates 5 indomitable mercurial yoginis. Her preceptor Adishesha assists her in their mission.


- Interview with Davesh Soneji
Davesh and Tiziana Leucci have co-organized an international conference entitled ‘Temple, Court, Salon, Stage. Crafting Dance Repertoire in South India.’

- Let's talk Dance by Rajlaxmi Arora & Violet Vaz
Four artistes closely associated with dance as performers, choreographers, lecturers or therapists, start a dialogue on the art form.

- Dance sans borders by Liza George
Paris Laxmi on her dance, change in name, films and more.

- A seeker’s odyssey by Nita Vidyarthi
Bharati Shivaji on Chaitanya’s influence in Mohiniattam and her journey in the dance form.

Meet the artistes

- Ant, Interrupted by Ranjana Dave
It is hard to let one’s guard down while watching Mandeep Raikhy’s mystifyingly named ‘A Male Ant Has Straight Antennae.’

- This Singh has got Kathak moves by Vagesha Mahajan
21-year-old Simerpreet Singh Sokhi has no qualms admitting that he is in love with a dance form that requires delicate and feminine movements.

- The Dutch angle by Kausalya Santhanam
Historian, scholar and Bharatanatyam dancer Liesbeth Bennink is keen to spread awareness about the Chidambaram temple.

- I am like a mountaineer: Ileana Citaristi
Ileana Citaristi, who has spent years in India learning classical dance forms and has now made the country her home, says she is tough and likens herself to a mountaineer.

More on the Arts

- Kutiyattam impresses Assamese audience by Madhavi Puranam
India’s unity in diversity was evident during Kutiyattam fest which took Kerala’s art to Assam.

- Tales of two women by Subhadra Devan
The Naga Women showcase offers viewers some fodder for thought on their own actions and emotions.

- From a simple act to a spectacle by Sharon Lowen
Dr S. Vasudevan is both a well trained Carnatic vocalist and performer of Bharatanatyam.

- Synchrony matches skill by VV Ramani
The bhakti bhava of Amrita Lahiri’s ‘Sharanam,’ suited the ambience of the temple.

- Making the art accessible by George Pioustin
Sangeeth Chakyar’s brilliant Koodiyattam follows his guru’s Kalamandalam style.
- - Dances of India, rich in breadth and addressing the sublime by Alastair Macaulay
The dance forms of India became a regular and deepening source of fascination to me only once I began work as chief dance critic of The New York Times in 2007.

- Desert’s pulsating charm by Swati Daftuar
Kalbeliya dancer Asha Sapera talks about the need to preserve her tribe’s art.

- Sedate yet sensitive by Chitra Mahesh
V.P. Dhananjayan and students of Bharatakalanjali brought alive the spirit of Thooran’s verses.

- The dancer who tamed a hippie / To dance is to have a wanderlust
Articles on Ileana Citaristi and Aditi Mangaldas

- Scores with eloquence by Rupa Srikanth
Arrabbe Perinpanathan’s Bharatanatyam proved to be a delight, despite a few rough edges.


May 1, Orcha, Madhya Pradesh
Odissi dance drama SHRIRADHA written by Ramakant Rath and choreographed by Suprava Mishra. Organised by Madhya Pradesh Sahitya Academy, performed by Suprava Mishra and group.
At: Orcha, 7pm

May 1, Mumbai
Traditional Odissi performance by Jhelum Paranjape & artistes of Smitalay during the Maharashtra Day Celebrations of Sane Guruji Arogya Mandir
At: Sane Guruji Arogya Mandir Hall, Santacruz West, 11am

May 1 - 12, USA
Kuchipudi exponent Dr. Saraswathi Rajathesh tours USA for workshops and performances.

May 2, Chicago, IL 
Natya Dance Theatre presents EXPLORATION OF TRADITIONS, narratives from mythologies of India.
At: Indian Boundary Park, 2500 W Lunt Avenue, 6 – 7pm.

May 2, 22 & 24, Thane, Thrissur & Bangalore
Samved Society for Performing Arts celebrates RAJAT JAYANTI MAHOTSAV, 25th Pt. Durgalal Festival.
- May 2: Vaibhav Arekar & Group - BN, Uma Dogra & Group - Kathak.
At: Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar Mini Hall, Thane West, 5pm to 7pm
- May 22:  Vaibhav Arekar, Uma Dogra, Gopika Varma - Mohiniattam
At: KT Muhammed Smaraka Theatre, Thrissur, 6.30pm
- May 24: Uma Dogra, Vaibhav Arekar, Gopika Varma
At: Nruthyakshetra, Kasturi Rangamandira, Bangalore, 6.30pm

May 3, 21 – 23, Mississauga, Toronto
Sampradaya Dance Creations starts its 25th Anniversary season from this month.
- May 3: Children’s Film Festival in partnership with FILMI Toronto, the festival curates a series of short films, from documentaries, that speak to children and youth across all cultures and ages.
At: Sampradaya Theatre, Mississauga, ON
- May 21-23: NIRANTARA – BEYOND SPACE AND TIME, 25th anniversary production, choreographed by Lata Pada. Live music is composed and performed by pianist Anil Srinivasan and Carnatic vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan along with sarangi artist Aruna Narayan Kalle.
At: Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto

May 10, Santa Clara, CA
Abhinaya and South India Fine Arts present DWITA - DUALITY OF LIFE by Rama Vaidyanathan and Dakshina Vaidyanathan
At: Santa Clara Convention Center, 5001 Great America Pkwy, 4pm

May 10, Napierville, IL
Natya Dance Theatre presents MEERA by Urmila Satyanarayana and group, with music by Rajkumar Bharati.
At: Naperville North Central College Pfeiffer Auditorium, 310 E Benton Ave, 6pm

May 10 & 30, Basel, Switzerland
- May 10: Das Tanzfest presents a Bharatanatyam recital by Anjali Keshava, Sumitra Keshava and D. Keshava at Zirkuszelt, Dreispitz, 1pm
- May 30: The Association of Friends of India in Basel celebrate the 50th anniversary of its foundation with a spectacular “Festival of India.” D. Keshava will hold a workshop on the authentic South Indian Hatha Yoga School. Sumitra Keshava will give an introduction to Bharatanatyam. In the afternoon, Kalasri children’s dance group will present the traditional Bharatanatyam repertoire and folk dances. The evening program features a North Indian concert with Ken Zuckerman and Udai Mazumdar. With their Kalasri ensemble D. Keshava, Anjali and Sumitra perform. The  Kalasri youth Company present Indian dances.
At: Landgasthof Riehen Baselstrasse 38, 3–11pm

May 13 & 15, California

Schedule for Ramya Harishankar
- May 13: Lec-dem, Drama Dept, Uni of California, Irvine
- May 15: Family Night, Archibald Library, Rancho Cucamanga

May 15, London
Aditi Mangaldas presents TIMELESS at the Alchemy Festival 2015, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London, 7:45pm

May 15 - 21, UK & Italy
Schedule for Ileana Citaristi for May 2015.
- 15 May- Leeds, UK: Ileana performs Odissi dance in Dance Double Bill, organized by South Asia Arts, UK at Seven Arts Centre, 31 A Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, 7.30pm.
- 16 May-Bedford, UK: Ileana will hold intensive 3 hrs workshop hosted by the 21st century Education Trust – on Mudras, Abhinaya foundation, vocabulary of Odissi
- 17 May-London, UK: Ileana holds workshop on building blocks of Odissi technique including: bhramari, chari, hasta mudra viniyoga and arasa in different tala. 10am to 2pm at Colet House, 151 Talgarth Road, London. Ileana talks about her autobiography 'My Journey: A Tale of Two Births' at Bharatya Vidya Bhavan, 4pm.
- 21 May-Bergamo, Italy: Ileana performs Odissi at Teatro Tascabile di Bergamo, Via S. Lorenzo 12/A, 9pm. 

May 18, Irvine, CA
At: Dept. of Theatre, University of California Irvine, 10:50am

May 21 - 29, Chile
Janaki Rangarajan conducts workshops and presents solo Bharatanatyam performances.


May 3, Bangalore
M. Shrruthi Iyer, disciple of Sreedevi Unni, Monisha Arts (Mohiniattam)
At: Seva Sadan, Malleshwaram, 6pm

Welcome to our new members

- Uma Dogra’s School of Kathak Dance, Uma Dogra, Kathak dancer and guru, Mumbai

- Manasa-Centre for Art without Frontiers, Sharon Lowen, Odissi dancer and guru, New Delhi

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