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Habitat World presents
Documentary films
From Mohan Khokar Dance Collection
Oct 6 - 27, 2021

September 29, 2021

October is festive time, after 18 months of Covid limitations. HABITAT WORLD brings 4 unusual dance documentation films from the KhokARrchives, made by Ashish Mohan Khokar, dance critic, historian, archivist. The Mohan Khokar Dance Collection - now donated to the nation at IGNCA- forms the bedrock of this film documentation, with music by maestro L.Subramaniam.

As a tribute on completion of the 20th punyatithi of icon amongst dance scholars, late Prof. Mohan Khokar, the Habitat World, Delhi, thought of mounting a rare, unusual 7 week virtual celebration, through films made by his son and successor, the reputed dance critic-historian Ashish Khokar.

Every Tuesday-Wednesday midnight, a new episode on Habitat YouTube channel
The first film on Oct 6th TRACING DANCE features the A to Z of Indian dance from modern Anita Ratnam to ancient Zohra Segal. X is there too! As X-factor - film dance stars Padmini, Kamala and Sandhya Shantaram. The film traces through rare photos and footage, Indian dance history and heritage. It platforms early influences, pioneers, first generation gurus and future stars. And 5 generations of dancers from Vyjayanthi to Valli; Mrinalini Sarabhai to Maharaj family. Modern dance, folk forms, even ritual dances are represented. A complete canvas in 10 min!
"It's a feat to compress so much so succinctly and only a master of the medium - both dance, archiving, film, editing and history - Ashish Khokar, can do it," said India Today.

The second documentation on Oct 13th is on Rukmini Devi Arundale, who institutionalized Bharatanatyam. It shows her journey in dance and how she created a lasting institution, the Kalakshetra. Rare photos and her own handwritten letters delight its alumni and all art lovers. Brochures, photos, invitations Khokar senior collected over 75 years, even Kalakshetra might not have. He was its first male student from North India in 1945! He was Athai's pet too for she told the hostel canteen to make chapattis for this North Indian boy. "How can he eat rice in one form or the other, 3 times a day?!" she reasoned. Such is stuff great gurus are made of and this unique Khokar Archives is now @IGNCA.

Sonal Mansingh

The third on Oct 20th pays homage to Bala, the last of the practicing devadasis, who conquered the world with her abhinaya. Bala brings out the beauty of Bharatanatyam through music too. While her main success was abroad and once established there she was celebrated here, even if very gifted in all aspects of the art. "Rare materials from the MKDC makes the film a rare film," said the Hindu, when first shown in Chennai 5 years ago.

The concluding offering on Oct 27th is Mishran. It's about choreography and how in Indian dance, choreography is an amalgamation of many art forms. Nearly all major choreographers are platformed. How dance filming has evolved also comes through in camera work and many productions are featured. A good over view.

All films are 10 to 20 minutes only, with English text or commentary.

Mohan Khokar with his first dance teacher Zohra Sehgal
(Photo: Ashish Khokar)

Ashish Khokar

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