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Narthaki Monthly Newsletter

March 2015

Anita says.....

"Everything is Art
Everything is Politics"
Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei held in house arrest in Beijing.

I discuss two divas in this month's edition - Martha Graham and Chandralekha. Both modernists, passionate about the geographies they inhabited and the urgent need to express through the body. Both women had a profound impact on the course of modern dance in their countries and both were iconic in appearance and attitude.

The first was a catalyst for thousands of my generation and beyond. An early modernist who literally invented the grand, high drama intensity of dance theatre (before the term was actually coined) for the early 20th century American dance stage, Martha Graham fueled her particular brand of personal fire into several unforgettable collaborations with painters, composers, designers and writers. A week long homage to her genius was mounted at New York's Joyce Theatre last month, marking the 96th season of the Martha Graham Dance Company. Among the highlights of the matinee show I attended was the iconic LAMENTATIONS.  It was, simply, a shot heard throughout the dance world when it premiered as early as 1930.

The work was a cathartic release for many generations who had lost husbands and sons in the two world wars, for many who had witnessed death through illness and accidents, and for those who had simply forgotten to cry.

The grey tube costume became a famous image and synonymous with the raw energy and passion that was to become the Graham signature. "A tragedy that obsesses the body" is how she describes this memorable short dance. This was the very first time I had seen this work live. Countless videos, several generations of Graham dancers have interpreted this work but to hear Graham and to watch her in LAMENTATIONS is to watch a true American original.

Read more....

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

Sharmila Biswas and group presented APARKAYA
on January 16, 2015 at the Parkaya Festival, Delhi

Photos: Avinash Pasricha


- Anil Kumar, husband of dancer Ratna Kumar, passed away in Houston at 11:30pm on February 13, 2015 due to health complications.

In the news

- The Dhananjayans were awarded the GURUVANDANAM plaque by Venu Parameswar and Unnikrishnan (Kaavya Arts Center, Dubai) on 6th Feb 2015. Commemorating Valentine’s day, Culturama Magazine - Global Adjustments India honored the Dhananjayans with the ART OF LOVING award on Feb 13, 2015 at Chennai.
- Shambhavi School of Dance confers the NATYASASTRA AWARD on Kuchipudi Guru Sobha Naidu on March 7, 2015 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai.
- The KJ SARASA MEMORIAL AWARD was given to dance vocalist Girija Ramaswamy on February 20, 2015 by Sarasalaya on the opening day of the Sarasa Natya Mala festival, Chennai.


- Natyasaraswathi presents
7th Akhila Karnataka Kuchipudi Nrithyotsava

Guru Bhavana, 10am – 8pm
March 1, 2015 Bangalore

- Sai Arts International presents
Sai Nrityotsav 70

Freedom Park, 5.30pm
March 1, 2015 Bangalore

- Shankarananda Kalakshetra & SICA present
A R T: Celebrating the Trinity of Telugu poet musicians

Ravindra Bharati, 7pm
March 11 - 13, 2015 Hyderabad

- Sapphire Creations presents
Quarterly Arts Series and
International Choreographer’s Residency
March 27, 2015 Kolkata

Workshops & Announcements

- Rhythmosaic presents
Contemporary Dance Workshop
by Martine Kaisserlian

March 2 – 4, 2015 Kolkata

- Rhythmosaic presents workshop
Musical Theater Jazz Dance
by Mohamed Drissi

March 9 – 11, 2015 Kolkata

- Nrityayatri presents
Kalakshetra Bharatanatyam workshop

May 24 – 31, 2015 Pune
Apply by March 15, 2015

Gati organizes
Gati Summer Dance Residency

June 1 – Aug 10, 2015 Delhi
Apply by March 31, 2015


- Natya Darshan 2014: A sum up by Devina Dutt
The idea of using the blossoming lotus as a metaphor for the chain of creative processes that are triggered when a new artistic work is being made was an inspired one.

- Nrityabharati Fest: The Vasanta of Dances by Dr S. D. Desai
With the joyous ambience it created and each day’s performance getting a standing ovation, Nrityabharati’s 12th four-day national dance festival (Jan 27 to 30) in the 55th year of Elakshi Thakore’s Bharatanatyam dance centre grew into a veritable Vasantotsava.

- The politics of death by Padma Jayaraj
The 7th Edition of International Theatre Fest of Kerala (Jan 10 to 17, 2015) showcased the theme of resistance.  

- Glocal dialogues – dance, technology and the individual by Navina Jafa
The festival ‘Dance Connect’ was an exploratory journey through movement, five senses and technology.

- Youngsters on song by Hareesh N. Nampoothiri
Parshwanath Upadhye and Lalitha Sindhuri, two noted young talents in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, performed on Feb 3 and 5 respectively in Thiruvananthapuram.

- Chayanika by Nita Vidyarthi
‘Chayanika,’ an evening of classical dance, was presented by Srishti Dances of India (USA) and Rajib Bhattacharya at ICCR’s Satyajit Ray Auditorium in Kolkata, showcasing Bharatanatyam and Odissi, and Gaudiya Nritya by Gaudiya Nritya Bharati.

- Shivoham Shiveham by Bay Area dancers by Priya Das
February 7 had four Bay Area dancers channeling our Shiva bhakti through their Bharatanatyam renditions at the Shiva Vishnu temple, in Livermore, California.

- Made in Bangladesh: Stringing tales of exploitation by Sulagna Mukhopadhyay
Spectators thronged in front of the Science City Auditorium in Kolkata to watch a production by Helena Waldmann. As they entered the auditorium there was a projection going on without any sound, showcasing the workers working in a sweat shop.


- Savitha Sastry in Chains: Love Stories of Shadows
It was a freeing experience; for once, I felt I didn’t have to focus on form, and for once, I wasn’t bored of the content!

- Sarasa Natya Mala 2015 by Lalitha Venkat
The KJ Sarasa Memorial Award was given to dance vocalist Girija Ramaswamy by chief guest, music maestro Gangai Amaran on Feb 20, the opening day of the festival.

- Second edition of Samarpan by Satish Suri
The two day festival held on the 17th and 18th January at the Don Bosco Hall in Mangalore highlighted several artists.
- Margams by Indu Santhosh and Vidya Subramanian by Satish Suri
Indu Santhosh presented a margam under the aegis of Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha, Bangalore, on Jan 28, 2015. The margam presented by Vidhya Subramanian on 30th January at Seva Sadan, Bangalore, had a classic finesse to everything.

- Cutting edge by Navina Jafa
The 7th Attakkalari India Biennial recently held in Bengaluru, brought to the stage avant-garde Contemporary dance and digital performances from various countries.

Base Notes by Shanta Serbjeet Singh

- The Rolls Royce and Indian Royalty
The obsession of the royal families for expensive things and their crazy spending habits are funny stories for the present generation.

- Parkaya’s 3rd edition marks coming of age of the ‘thinking’ dancer 
This title, suggesting the coming of age of the thinking dancer, is not meant to infer that the   majority of them don’t think.

TRENDING by Ashish Mohan Khokar

- Here and Now (or how)!
Having written for a decade for narthaki, I re-read some of my Dance History columns and reports and reviews and realized while, as a specialist, I was sharing snippets of our history and heritage, what also interested me were trends and young India. The word - TRENDING - caught my attention.


All cannot become choreographers, dancers or musicians. Everyone cannot become a Tyagaraja. We need singers too for his work to come alive. M.S. Subbulakshmi never composed a single song, yet, she is a Bharat Ratna. Being always creative does not mean you should be a scholar or a choreographer. One must learn to excel in anything he/she does and that makes all the difference. Dance should not become a pendulum from being a taboo to social snobbery – like today people treat it as a style statement rather than a study of the arts… It doesn’t matter if you are part of a crowd. Dance is not just about name and fame but about atma tripti. It’s not just the spectator’s enjoyment, but also about your own. Dance is also about an inward journey, which should be the ultimate aim. But that takes time.
- Padma Subrahmanyam
(‘The discovery of an inner voice,’ by Shilpa Sebastien, The Hindu Fri Review, Jan 23, 2015)

Look out for

- Bhakta Kuchela (1961, Malayalam/Kannada)
Duet for “Vikrama Rajendra” by Kamala and Rhadha

- 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic trailer
500 people dancing in the sky

- On the trail of the Nautch performers by Dr. Swarnamalya Ganesh
Curious explorers, a two-member dance company that visited beautiful Madurai and a page out of the archives.


Book review

- Sattriya: The living dance tradition of Assam
This ready reckoner of Sattriya, the classical dance of Assam, is the first English version on Sattriya dance published by the Publication Board, Assam.


- Education in Spiritual values through Bharatanatyam: Part V
Tanjore Quartet margam: A journey in space and time with the Divine Spirit
by Chandra Anand
As explained by Balasaraswati, Bharatanatyam is an artistic yoga, a means to reveal the spiritual through the corporeal and the Tanjore Quartet margam is the space created to divulge the knowledge about the spiritual self.

- The rare documents of Jayantika by Ileana Citaristi
The word ‘jayantika’ rings a bell in the mind of each and every Odissi dancer, old or new, upcoming or established, professional or amateur.

- Dances of desire: From Devadasis to modern storytellers by Shweta Krishnan
Anita Ratnam talks about how classical dance is staying relevant by retelling modern day stories in the classic art.

- The Morph Elegy by Sudha G. Tilak
Bharatanatyam’s current exponents create a dance vocabulary all their own.
- Visual history of Yoga by S. Rangarajan
The year-long exhibition mounted at the Sackler Gallery, Washington, offered a peek at the discipline’s multi-faceted cultural dimensions.
- Speaks of sringara and devotion by Pradeep Chakravarthy
Kshetrayya’s compositions are filled with bhakti and emotions which make them ideal for a dance performance.

Roses & Thorns

What they said this Season compiled by Lalitha Venkat
You can be a great daughter-in-law but it takes much more to be a good dancer-in-law.
- Veejay Sai (on Facebook)


- Dance as an agent of change by Archana Nathan
Attakalari India Biennial plans to give a big lift to contemporary dance in South Asia.

- When life meets art by Kunal Ray
Ileana Citaristi talks about what Odissi means to her.

Meet the artistes

- Designing a Margam of service by Janani Sampath
Jayalakshmi Alva (81) who learnt under the illustrious KN Dandayudhapani Pillai and later from Swarna Saraswati and Gowri Ammal, talks about going strong with her mission across cities, grooming some of the finest dancers.

- From natya to numbers by Suganthi Krishnamachari
After a short but successful stint in films, L. Vijayalakshmi became a Chartered Accountant. But dance remains her first love.

- Swirls and steps by Tapati Chowdurie
Kathak exponent Prashant Shah on his journey.

- Moving dance tribute to the Mother of Rhythm by Akhila Krishnamurthy
In September last year, when legendary Kathak dancer-choreographer Dr Maya Rao passed away, Madhu Nataraj Kiran, her daughter, confesses, she lost three people at the same time - “mother, guru and soul buddy.

- Rhythmic notes of her life by R Shilpa Sebastien
Darshana Jhaveri speaks about how dance has helped her keep her heart, mind and soul young.

- House full by Anjana Rajan
Kalamamdalam Raman Kutty and his family are dedicated to Kathakali even as they follow urban mores.

More on the Arts

- Charting a new course by Chitra Swaminathan
Hema Rajagopalan joins hands with the Indonesia-based Nan Jombang to come up with a cross-cultural narrative where dance moves meet martial arts.

- Potpourri of dance by Hareesh N Nampoothiri
Classical dances of India reigned on the stage at the Nishagandhi Festival in the capital city

- Picture perfect performance by V.R. Prabodhachandran Nayar
The staging of ‘Subhadraharanam’ in Thiruvananthapuram was a study on perfection, where each artiste gave his best to make the play a spectacular success.

- Monsoon formed the pivot by V.V. Ramani
The season saw yet another interesting performance by the dancing couple Aswathi and Srikanth.

- Dramatic amid missing links by Rupa Srikanth
Bharatanatyam dancer Pavithra Srinivasan presented the musical compositions of her spiritual guru, Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
- - Charged with emotion by P.K. Janardanan
‘Surpanakhankam’ was explored in depth at Nepathya’s annual Koodiyattam fete.
- Dance with precision by Velcheti Subrahmanyam
Chandra Kamala put forth a vibrant portrayal of Sathyabhama through Andhra Natyam.

- Lasya in the ‘desi’ idiom by V. Kaladharan
Mohiniyattam dancer Jayaprabha Menon imbued each piece with her ingenuity without deviating from the indigenous roots of the dance form.

- Grief and grandeur by Anjana Rajan
A Kathakali version of “Othello” at Bharat Rang Mahotsav was an interesting experiment.

- Spanish Masala by Saraswathy Nagarajan
Flamenco dancer Bettina Castaño dances to the tune of world music.

- Decoding Kathakali by Lalithaa Krishnan
Peesappilly Rajeevan is on a mission… to make the dance performances more comprehensible to the layman.


March 1, Aurangabad
Mahagami presents lectures and presentations articulating different perspectives on Monuments of Aurangabad region by eminent experts under its DRISHTIKON series. Students, rasikas and heritage - lovers are welcome to attend these sessions focussed at inter - disciplinary dialogue with the monuments followed by discussion with audience.
Heritage Tourism: Dr. Rajesh Ragde / Architectural: Ajay Kulkarni
Dance-Iconographical: Parwati Dutta / Sociological: Dr. V. L. Dharurkar
At: Sharangadev Sadan, Mahagami, MGM, 10am

March 1, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Apsaras Arts presents AADUM ARUL JOTHI - The Dance of the Divine Deities, a thematic Bharatanatyam performance featuring Mohanapriyan Thavarajah.
At: Temple of Fine Arts, Kuala Lumpur, 5pm

March 1, Sunnyvale, CA
For Mahashivarathri Natyothsav Naatyarchana 2015 (noon - 8pm) hosted by Sanatan Dharma Kendra, Malavika Kumar will perform at 12 noon     
At: Sanatana Dharma Kendra, 193 Commercial St. Sunnyvale, CA  94087

March 1, 19-21, Florida & Texas
Schedule for Janaki Rangarajan
- March 1, 2015 Orlando, Florida: Janaki Rangarajan presents a solo Bharatanatyam performance
At: Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at 3pm
- March 19-21 San Antonio, Texas: Janaki Rangarajan conducts workshops from March 19-21 and presents a solo Bharatanatyam performance on March 21
At: Hindu Temple of San Antonio at 6pm

March 1 - 28, Pune, Mumbai, Bhanpura
Schedule for Jhelum Paranjape and Smitalay.
- 1st Mar: Dance drama SHIV SHANKAR in traditional Bharatanatyam and Odissi by Dr. Sandya Purecha & troupe, Jhelum Paranjape & troupe (Smitalay) for SHANIWARWADA MUSIC & DANCE FESTIVAL at Shaniwarwada, Pune, 7pm
- 8th Mar: SWETA MUKTHI – FEMININE GLORY OF NIRVANA a solo dance presentation of five women in Gautama Buddha’s life & times by Odissi dancer Kavita Dwibedi on the occasion of International Women’s Day Celebration by Smitalay at Savarkar Rashtriya Smarak, Opp. Shivaji Park, Mumbai, 8pm.
-  13th Mar: SAVITRI VADATEY for old age home Athashri at Athashri, Pashan, Pune, 7.30pm
- 20th Mar: Friday Series by Rupali Kadam, senior teacher of Smitalay, at Sane Guruji Arogya Mandir Hall, Santacruz West, Mumbai, 7.30pm
- 28th Mar: LEELAVATI Odissi dance drama by Smitalay for Kamala Saklecha Gyan Mandir, at Bhanpura, M.P, 6pm

March 2 - 21, Kolkata
Schedule for Rhythmosaic in March.
- March 2 - 4: Workshop by Martine Kaisserlian, Director, Offjazz Dance Academy, France, an expert in contemporary Dance, Movement Analysis and Awareness, at Rhythmosaic Studio.
- March 3: Seminar by Martine Kaisserlian on ‘Present Scenario of Contemporary Dance in Europe,’ at Alliance Francaise Du Bengale.
- March 9 - 11: Workshop by Mohamed Drissi, Artistic Director, 3ami, Hong Kong, an expert in Musical Theater Jazz Dance, at Rhythmosaic Sudio.
Seminar by Mohamed Drissi on ‘Scene of Musical Theater and Jazz Dance in the World’ at Alliance Francaise Du Bengale.
- March 17 - 21:  Rhythmosaic and Pradip Center for Autism Management, organizing and celebrating National Creative Arts Therapy Week
* March 17, seminar and awareness camp on Dance Movement Therapy, at Basanti Devi College for Girls.
* March 19, seminar and awareness camp on Dance Movement Therapy while dealing with autism and parents who are dealing with autism, at Pradip Center for Autism Management
* March 21, seminar and awareness camp on Dance Movement Therapy, for dealing with stress with Nilojoy Girls, at Weavers Studio Center for the Arts.

March 3 – 29, Varanasi, Coimbatore Delhi, Mumbai
- 3 March: Geeta Chandran is Chief Guest at Benaras Hindu University’s SPANDAN FESTIVAL organized by the Department of Performing Arts, Varanasi.
- 7 March:  Geeta is Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker at International Women’s Day observance hosted by the Avinashilingam University for Women, Coimbatore.
- 11 March:  Geeta Chandran performs for Sahitya Akademi’s Annual FESTIVAL OF LETTERS at the Meghdoot Open Air Theatre, Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi.
- 12 March: Geeta Chandran performs GANDHI at NCPA Experimental Theatre, Mumbai
- 13 March: As part of NCPA’s Outreach Program, Geeta Chandran presents an illustrated lec-dem on Bharatanatyam at the Edubridge International School, Grant Road East), Mumbai.
- 28 & 29 March: At the Forms of Devotion exhibition curated by Sushma Bahl at the Lalit Kala Akademi Galleries in Copernicus Marg, Geeta Chandran performs on saguna and  nirguna  bhakti, inspired by specific art works that will be displayed, both days, same performance in the evenings, Delhi. 

March 5 - 13, Hyderabad
Schedule for Ananda Shankar Jayant for March 2015
- March 5: NAVARASA - EXPRESSIONS OF LIFE by Ananda Shankar Jayant and the Shankarananda Kalakshetra ensemble as part of the 3 day Nrityotsavam of the PS Telugu University.
Venue: Ravindra Bharathi, 7pm
- March 11 – 13: ART - Annamacharya, Ramadas and Thyagaraja - 3 day festival celebrating the Trinity of Telugu Vaggeyakaras featuring signature choreographies of Ananda Shankar Jayant in solo and ensemble productions presented by South Indian Cultural Association & Shankarananda Kalakshetra.
11th March - Annamacharya- SHRINGARA DARPANAM
12th March - Ramadas - SRI RAMA NAMAM ENTHA RUCHI RA
13th March - Thyagaraja - THYAGARAJA RAMAYANAM
Venue: Ravindra Bharathi, 7pm daily

March 12, Mumbai

GANDHI: WARP & WEFT by Geeta Chandran has been choreographed by Geeta and Deepa Dharmadhikari. The performance explores key concepts from Gandhian philosophy through the narrative lens of the female dancer in the 21st century. In keeping with Gandhi’s personal evolution, the initial sections of the choreography are based on classical Bharatanatyam abhinaya techniques; and then, reflecting the newness of Gandhi’s evolving philosophy and the stark brilliance of his struggle, the later sections have been visualized embracing a more contemporary choreographic outlook.
At: NCPA Experimental Theatre, 7pm

March 12 & 14, MA & NY
Ragamala Dance Company presents SONG OF THE JASMINE with Aparna Ramaswamy, Ranee Ramaswamy and Rudresh Mahanthappa
- March 12: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 7.30pm
- March 14: The Egg Center for the Performing Arts, Albany, New York, 8pm

March 13 & 14, Honolulu, Hawaii
THE POWER WITHIN - A work in progress featuring Krithika Rajagopalan, Dipankar Mukerjee, Brahim Fribgane.  Krithika Rajagopalan has been named the Artist-in-Residence at The Doris Duke Foundation Shangri-La Honolulu, where she will open the Mughal Suite.
- March 13: Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii
- March 14: Shangri La - Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures, 5pm

March 14, Chicago, IL
Natya Dance Theatre and Muntu Dance Theatre present EXPLORATION OF TRADITIONS, an eclectic celebration of classical Bharatanatyam and African dance.
At: South Shore Cultural Center (7059 South Shore Dr., Chicago), 2pm

March 14, Basel, Switzerland
Revanta Sarabhai and Pooja Purohit present a Bharatanatyam margam, showcasing the exquisite technique of the Pandanallur style including some rare gems composed by legendary gurus Kittappa Pillai and Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai.
At: Studio Kalasri, Freie Strasse 3, 4001 Basel, 6:30pm – 8pm

March 18, Kolkata
For a special women's theatre festival produced and presented by actor Shahana Chatterjee, Anita Ratnam presents A MILLION SITAS.
At: GD Birla Sabhagar, Kolkata, 7pm

March 22, Milpitas, CA
Abhinaya Dance Company presents AAKRITI – THE FORMS OF VISHNU, Spring Student Showcase
At: India Community Center, 525 Los Coches St, Milpitas, CA 95035, 4pm

March 29, Mississauga, ON
Sampradaya Dance Creations presents its next installment of HORIZON SERIES, Emerging Artist Performance Series. The two local emerging artists are classical vocalist Ravi Datar and   flutist and vocalist Hasheel Lodhia. Talk-back session following performances.
Venue: Sampradaya Theatre, Mississauga, ON, 4pm

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