April 2021


The virus licks my torn soul, guilt tripping me
I sing a love song to it, tempting the faint thump,
Causing my heart to fissure its fatty lumps; pretend
I live on a moon of my own landing, turn my flesh
Inside out, listen to the chirping of birds, amazed

That so much beauty could still exist, amid club-like
Spikes that crush the breathing soul...
A pestilence that asks for enormous surcharges, lethal
As the protean cry of daggers, stabbing me yet again.

Quietly slithering out, a warlike stratagem, as
Birds orchestrate their cheerful songs to one another...

Gone, I struggle with myself, umpteen times more

By Nishi Chawla
From the anthology SINGING IN THE DARK
Global poetry under lockdown
Publisher Penguin Vintage

Well... have you?
Have you become bored with watching online dance?
Are you ready to SCREAM with frustration as another lockdown looms large?
Are you ready to vote for your next State Chief Minister? (this for those citizens of certain Indian states)

I am saying YES to all the above.

Read on...


The Sangeet Natak Akademi brought out its annual journal in honor of T Balasaraswati, guest edited by her senior disciple Nandini Ramani.

Natyarambha's KUTTY KAHANI - 55 episode series telecast, started from 14th March 2021primetime on DD Bharati, with one episode per day, with a repeat telecast on the next morning! Kutty Kahani is a multi-art multilingual, short video series of storytelling and performance by young storytellers, from India, UK, USA, Singapore and Malaysia, bringing to us Stories from India.

Seven women were inducted into Singapore WOMEN'S HALL OF FAME on March 8, 2021 on International Women's Day including SANTHA BHASKAR, artistic director and chief choreographer at Bhaskar's Art Academy, one of the first Indian dance schools in Singapore.

Tapas Cultural Foundation presented the VIDHYA TAPASVI AWARD for 2020-21 to nagaswaram vidwan Desur DSD Selvarathinam (music) and Bharatanatyam exponent Nithyakalyani Vaidyanathan for their service towards bhakthi oriented classical Fine Arts on March 11, 2021.

Premiering on Youtube and Facebook on April 29, 2021, Jiva Performing Arts presents DUALITIES: A DANCE ON CAMERA FESTIVAL, curated and directed by Sonali Skandan featuring Archana Raja, Aishwarya Sriram and Mallika Murali, Nandini Kannan, Sahana Sridhar, Sahana Rao and Sneha Subramaniam, Sophia Salingaros.



Animated discussion on to be or not to be of Guru-Shishya
The relevance of the Guru/shishya tradition in the contemporary ethos became the focus of animated webinar discussion in an event hosted by Sanjay Kumar Joshi's Parampara Dance and Music Forum.

Khajuraho Festival - A mishmash of varying levels of proficiency
A rich, holistic cultural event, with many other attractions planned round the main performances, the marathon festival was however a bit of a let-down in terms of artiste selection.


Monsoon melody from corona crescent
Sparsh, a film released on March 26, under the baton of the ever-innovative Kathak dancer Aditi Mangaldas- she literally pulled off all stops for her Drishtikon Dance Foundation to assemble a bevy of professionally groomed youthful male and female dancers to respond across continents

Re-imagining the pastoral god
Ritachhanda Festival presented on the proscenium stage on February 14 by SNB Foundation, offered a bouquet of five dances, 'Pancha Varna' built around the Krishna theme as visualized by Ashimbandhu Bhattacharya.

Cloud messenger from beyond borders
MEGHADOOTAM had its special charm in being primarily an Urdu version (with a smattering of Multani, Sanskrit and Hindi), composed in 1987 by Raja Pratap Singh Gannari, a poet from West Pakistan, who had migrated to India.

Excellent exotica
KUSUM KUSUM and GIRGITI presented on proscenium stage on February 28 by Chetana were equally eloquent productions. While the first play was a grim tragedy with deep folk roots, the second one was a heady comedy.



The great Kathakali legend CHEMANCHERI KUNHIRAMAN NAIR passed away at the ripe old age of 105 in the early hours of 15th March 2021 at his residence at Cheliya village.

Nair was born on June 26, 1916 in a farmer's family in a remote village in Malabar. He lost his mother when he was only 3 and his father when he was 13. He mastered Kathakali under Guru Karunakara Menon and later Ambu Panicker, Katathanad Ramunni Nair, and Matasseri Kochugovindan Nair. His first role, as a 15-year-old, was that of Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas, in a Mahabharata based performance. Later, he started acting the role of Krishna with which he is associated with the most. One of the judges of Kerala court spontaneously prostrated in front of him when he portrayed the Lord's cosmic form. He learnt Bharatanatyam from Kalamandalam Madhavan Nair, Salem Rajarathinam Pillai and Madras Balachandra Saraswati of Saidapet. Kunhiraman Nair had his debut performance at Keezhpayur Kuniyil Paradevatha temple in 1930. He pioneered in fusing Bharatanatyam and Kathakali and choreographed dance dramas with over forty dancers. He served as a dance teacher in a circus company for a couple of years. He founded Bharatiya Natya Kalalayam at Kannur in 1945, which was the first school of dance in north Kerala. He had four significant dance schools on the Western coast of Malabar and also a school theatre program for youth to sustain traditional values.

He was a pioneer in producing dance dramas based on Kathakali and other folk dances of Kerala, especially in the north Malabar area in the name of 'Ballets.' He trained a number of talented poor boys and girls in Kerala. He inspired several naatya practitioners to compose group productions and there was a time when his ballets were an integral part of any temple festival. He was also a proponent of Ashtapadi Attam, another form of dance drama based on the verses of Gita Govindam of poet Jayadeva. Working with Guru Gopinath, Nair also helped in giving shape to Kerala Natanam.

In 2014 at the age of 98, he performed as Parasurama and also gave a performance in full Kathakali attire in the same temple where he first performed nine decades earlier. His last notable public performance was at the age of 100.

This 'wonderman' received some significant awards only in his nineties, which include the Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi's Puraskar (1979) and Fellowship (1999), Kerala Kalamandalam Visishta Kala Seva Award (2002), the Kerala Kalamandalam's Kala Ratnam award (2009), and the Sangeet Natak Akademi's Tagore Puraskar (2011). Bharata Ilango Foundation for Asian Culture conferred its first Satabdhi Kalakaraha (artiste of the century) award on him in Dec 2014 when he was 98 years old. He received the Padma Shri in 2017. His autobiography in Malayalam is like a documentation of a century of Kerala culture. This has been edited by Aneesh Kuttan. A documentary film on his life and work is almost ready to be released soon by the Government of India Film Division directed by Kadambari.


LAXMIPRIYA MOHAPATRA, wife of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, passed away at her residence in Bhubaneswar due to age related ailments on 20th March 2021. She was 93 (1928-2021).
Starting her dancing career at an early age at the Annapurna Theatre in Puri in 1947, Laxmipriya came in contact with Kelucharan Mohapatra at the Annapurna Theatre 'B' in Cuttack. Though he was an expert in Odissi and Gotipua dance forms, Kelucharan was then performing as a tabla player in the theatre. While working together, Kelucharan began teaching her Odissi dance. They got married in 1947 despite several impediments as the duo belonged to different castes. Later, Laxmipriya quit her profession after family took precedence. A dancer and stage artiste of acknowledged stature, Laxmipriya was the inspiring presence in Kelucharan's life. Their togetherness stemmed from 1946 when she danced at Annapurna 'B' theatre to his fluent support on the mardala and other drums. Invariably, whenever Laxmipriya performed on stage, Kelucharan accompanied her on percussion. Laxmipriya benefited from Kelubabu's ideas on dance, choreography and stagecraft, and she saw to it that, in his grim struggle to eke out a bare existence, every affordable comfort was made available to him.

In the early part of her life, Laxmipriya absorbed from her rural surroundings, an interest in the expressional Arts - dance, music, theatre. Hailing from Khurda, Laxmipriya and her mother opted to stay in Puri where the young Laxmipriya was introduced as a dancer in Annapurna 'A' group by Bauribandhu Mahanty. She travelled with the theatre group, to remote villages, towns and every tribal district of Orissa; her reminiscences about these tours abounded in lively anecdotes about people, tribal dance and costumes, rural methods of conveying ideas, phraseology and many other points of interest. Her powers of observation were sharp, and her sense of humour abundant. Her teachers in acting and dance were, in those days, the venerable Ram Mania, Kashinath Sahu, Lakshmidhar Patra and Lingraj Nanda, who were all hard taskmasters. She blossomed into a fine stage artiste and from the time she made her debut as 'Mohini', Laxmipriya mesmerized theatre lovers with her virtuosity and emotive portrayal in a number of dance dramas many of which ran for a 100 days. Her stellar roles made her a most popular stage artiste in the plays 'Manager', 'Aloka', 'Bharasa', 'Ta poi', 'Mulia', 'Kalapahada', 'Jahara' and the 'Dasavatara' sub play in 'Sadhaba jhia' where she performed in tandem with Kelucharan Mohapatra.

Laxmipriya is credited as being the first dancer to perform Odissi on stage! She also acted in important roles in landmark films such as Surya Mukhi, Manika Jodi, Amada Bata and Mala Janha and her histrionic ability was received with great enthusiasm by the Oriya audience of that era. Her decision to continue as a dancer and stage artiste gave the fillip and courage to many middle class Oriya girls to dedicate themselves to Odissi dance. She is fondly addressed as "Guruma." After Kelubabu's demise she functioned as the chief trustee of Srjan.
She is survived by her son Ratikant Mohapatra and family and the entire Srjan parivar.

Mridangam maker PALAKKAD PARAMESWARAN passed away on March 25, 2021 aged 58.


Churned energies of absolute ecstasy - Astad Deboo
- Navina Jafa
Astad Deboo provided the trajectory of Indian dance with a specific in-depth cosmopolitanism that carried with it the inner frame of the Zoroastrian spirit.

The grand old man of Kathakali
- Sreevalsan Thiyyadi
Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair was one of the last exponents of the Kalladikodan style of the art form.

Laxmipriya Mohapatra, the first Odissi dancer on stage
- Ileana Citaristi
She continued to be a strong pillar of support for Kelucharan Mohapatra who would need to have her at his side and hear her opinion during the making of any new composition.

Trailblazer and inspiration
- Shyamhari Chakra
Laxmipriya Mohapatra was the first dancer to perform the then-unnamed Odissi on stage.

Palakkad Parameswaran: A unique mridangam maker
- Vini A
Mridangam maker Palakkad Parameswaran was not only an expert craftsman but also an experimenter and a trained mridangam player.

Poesia Y Musica
A presentation by ELECTROLÉ | SPAIN in collaboration with ADITI MANGALDAS & Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company- The Drishtikon Dance Foundation

Kala Saadhana / Shanta and V.P.Dhananjayan / Bharatanaatyam
Part 1
Part 2

Guru Shradha Soloists
Paying tribute to Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra by presenting his beautiful choreographic gems.
"Rukmini Devi and Kalakshetra Legacy in a Global Perspective "
Talk by Dr. Avanthi Meduri (Reader in Dance and Performance Studies, University of Roehampton)

Shiva Tandava
Ileana Citaristi presents this item in Mahurbhanji Chhau style from Orissa.

"Given to Dance" by Ron Hess
A rare film on Odissi and the maharis of Jagannath Temple, Orissa.

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