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Natyashala by Natyarambha

August 18, 2020

Natyarambha recently organized Natyashala - a customized series of online sessions from the masters, on the Why and How of Natya. The first session kicked off with Dr. Anupama Kylash conducting the session on Nayika and Nayaka - Concept, Context and Content. Anupama also generously shared copies of Bhanudatta's Rasatarangini and her own book Nayikas of Kshetrayya as background material for the participants. The sessions were spread over 2 days of August 15 and 16, 2020 with 90 minutes of lecture, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A each day. A total of 78 participants attended the Natyashala. Two of them share their experiences.

Dr. Anupama Kylash

Covid 19 has turned the world upside down and has pretty much disrupted everyone's routine and livelihood. One of the few advantages has been plethora of online learning opportunities to further one's knowledge and artistry in their field of choice. This has been a great boon to people who stay abroad and can avail these sessions from their homes.

I recently attended a workshop professionally organized and executed to perfection by Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant and her team at Natyarambha. The topic selected was 'Introduction to Nayika & Nayaka - Concept, Context, Content.' Dr. Anupama Kylash, a renowned Kuchipudi dancer and scholar, was chosen for this session on account of her vast knowledge on the subject and expertise in disseminating the information.

Often times, when the subject matter is heavy, the challenge for the speaker is to make sure they are able to reach an audience of varied ages and experience. There could not have been a better choice than Dr. Kylash for this topic that is so relevant to dance practitioners. She not only spoke on the subject matter with special reference to 'Rasamanjari by Bhanudatta' but also quoted other texts including Agni Puran, Natya Shastra, Sringara Manjari to clearly delineate the various Nayakas and Nayikas.

Dr. Kylash's explanations on "Ashtavidha Nayika Avasthas" was unique and well explained. She also delineated the "Nayika Avasthas" with special reference to Kshetragna padams and other popular javalis. Her clarity on the subject and willingness to answer questions keeping in mind the time constraints was remarkable and noteworthy. I came away from the workshop not just astounded by the mastery of Bhanudutta who delineated the qualities and reaction in a situation by a man or woman many centuries ago, but equally impressed by Dr. Kylash who made learning fun and interesting. Looking forward to such enriching sessions in future.

(Sangeetha Prasanna is a Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher from Acton, Massachusetts. A Kalakshetra graduate, Sangeetha is the daughter of doyen musician D Pashupati.)

Natyashala was an exciting connection to the vast theory of Natyam. As a professional Bharatanatyam dancer, I have spent the recent part of my Natyam journey learning more abhinaya pieces. When my mom (Suganda Iyer, director of Jayendra Kalakendra in the Bay Area) approached Guru Ananda Shankar Jayant, with the idea of exploring the Nayika and Nayaka, I was very excited, as I would get to dive deeper into the vast ocean. Natyarambha took on the organizational aspect and executed the workshop with professionalism.

The first session was taught by Dr. Anupama Kylash, who was our excellent guide. Combining knowledge from Rasamanjari and Shringara Manjari, Dr. Kylash gave us the classifications of the Nayika and Nayaka. She explained the vocabulary succinctly, while providing examples and making sure we all understood the nuances. During the question and answer section after each lecture, it was clear we all wanted more. The workshop was only two days long, but I walked away with much more clarity about the different men and women I portray in my dance. This also has provided a foundation to future theory-based workshops, which I am sure the Natyarambha team is already organizing. As a student in the "new normal", I am looking forward to more such online learning opportunities.

(Shreya Iyer is a Bay Area based Bharatanatyam dancer, instructor and lead dancer at Jayendra Kalakendra.)

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