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Dance Matters or does it?

May 6, 2022

So, when my column title became the title of a seminar content in World Dance Day event just concluded recently (29th April) and 7 star dancers/teachers/festival organisers/gurus decided to address the issue, the hall filled with many more dancers, gurus and enthusiasts (keeping Covid protocols in mind or masks!) clapped for each speaker. Never before have I heard so many claps after each speaker had made a point at any seminar.

Vani Ganapathy, the senior most on stage, read out point by point her thoughts. Her concerns were for the art form, its structure and substance. Popular and perennial dance aunt of Bangalore, Padmini Ravi talks no nonsense. She came to the point right away: don't seek convenience while looking for a teacher in the neighborhood, go a distance if you must but find the best. Nandini Mehta runs Nadam with Muralimohan Kalva and they teach best Kathak in the city of Bangalore and host the best festival too annually. She held that to learn a form that's different from the eco system of the city culturalscape is not easy but that's where the challenge lay. Praveen Kumar talked beyond gender issue. Body is not important, art is. Democratic choice of how one wishes to project a character. Rukmini Vijayakumar said she was almost forced to go digital when her dance music was taken from internet without a by your leave. Dance writer cum journo Ranee Kumar, who ably guest edited the attenDance 22 issue on Dance & Mysticism, said she had stopped reviewing dance as virtual dance had no real connect with audiences. Her first novel Song to Silence was released on the occasion by star Lakshmi Gopalaswamy who said the Covid times has given her time to think where her art was going.

The evening showcased best dancers in each of main learnt forms: commendable Yakshagana by Varshini Hebbar; light-like-a feather Kuchipudi by N.Gururaj, spiffy Bharatanatyam by Malavika Nair; pleasing Odishi by Madhulita Mohapatra and tiny tots; energetic Kathak by Tushar and "Pijja" Bhatt (a local newspaper had wrongly called Puja as Pijja!); soothing Mohiniattam by VeDa (Veena-Dhanya) Nair sisters and the most wholesome valedictory Tillana by best Bharatanatyam dancer of Bangalore - Aishwarya Nityananda. It all ended with all forms coming together in Mishran, put together to Vande Mataram music by one and only genius composer A.R.Rahman. Attendance was full and the 22nd edition of this yearbook got launched. The feeling of goodness in art and heart of all was evident on the face of most and artistes felt alive after a hiatus of 2 years of Covid torture.

Chiranjiv Singh
Chiranjiv Singh
Photo exhibition
Photo exhibition

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan under director H.N.Suresh pulled out all plugs to ensure all went well, till end, with a tasty feast. Anjali Urs conducted the whole evening with finesse. Saraswati graced and blessed the occasion. Ganesh had ensured no obstacle like heavy rain or traffic jams delayed the punctual and professionally curated function. The inaugural of dance photos by V.B. Suresh by saint patron of art, Chiranjiv Singh, set the tone for the evening of dance that mattered.

Ashish Mohan Khokar
Khokar is a critic by profession, historian by education, administrator by experience, archivist by disposition and celebrator of art and artists by spirit.

This is a must read for anyone who wants to gain more insight about the classical dance world.
- Shaily (May 17, 2022)

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