View the newsletter in your browser and SHARE

December 2021


Dance is the healing treasure within your spirit
That only movements of passion can set free

Sometimes in life confusion tends to arise
And only dialogue of dance seems to make sense

- Shah Asad Rizvi, author

Anita Ratnam

In my very last message of 2021, I look forward to writing about watching dance. In person. Not on the small screen. Night after night, seeking those moments of being in the same space as the artiste, watching a moving body instead of an ant size blip, flattened by a digital device and bleached of rasa. Breathing the same air, though masked, applauding and savouring the sound of multiple palms coming together at the end.

Read on...

Roving eye

The Creative Toolbox featuring Diya Naidu, Contemporary Dancer & Choreographer

What goes on inside an artist's mind? How does a choreography take shape? Which part of the creative process do dancers find most exciting? NeoNarthaki's The Creative Toolbox is a series that delves into the dancer’s mind to explore how they approach their artistic work. In this feature we have Diya Naidu, a performance maker, choreographer, contemporary dancer and performer based in Bangalore, India.

Her work traverses into gender divides, feminism and patriarchal invasions - how they somatically penetrate our beings and how ‘intimacy’ is a way to heal from them. ‘Intimacy’ is also her tool of resistance against divisive and binary forces. She has performed in festivals and events all over India, as well as in Germany, The Netherlands, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Kenya and Tanzania both in her own pieces and in works of other companies and directors.


Dance writers provide a unique service to the field, generating the first draft of an essential history. It seems wildly counterproductive for producers to hamstring potential reviewers with lists of conditions and expectations. If such policies are closely followed, if dance artists turn on the critics who take the trouble to notice them and journalism migrates online where photos are primary and critics usually unpaid and unedited, artists will have an even harder time trying to connect with audiences. They will wind up alone in the dark, surrounded by empty chairs, talking to themselves.
- Elizabeth Zimmer
('Mourning my profession' by Elizabeth Zimmer, The Village Voice, Oct 29, 2021)


Paying tribute to ASTAD DEBOO on the first anniversary of his passing away, a program featuring a slide show on him and presentation of Manipuri dances will be held on Dec 10, 2021 at JNMDA, Imphal.

The university ITM in Gwalior has conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters (D Litt) on Kathak Guru KUMUDINI LAKHIA for her contribution to the field of dance on Nov 20, 2021.

The book INDIAN CANVAS OF PERFORMING ARTS authored by DR. UTPAL K BANERJEE and published by Shubhi Publication, Gurugram, Haryana, was released on November 12, 2021 at ICCR, Kolkata.

After a hiatus of over 18 months ADITI MANGALDAS-Drishtikon Dance Foundation will resume work on FORBIDDEN, a solo contemporary dance presentation based on Kathak, now rescheduled for a 2022 premiere at the NCPA, Mumbai.


KALIDAS SAMMAN for 2019-2020 conferred by Cultural Ministry of Madhya Pradesh goes to Shanta and VP Dhananjayan (Chennai) and Sunaina Hazarilal (Mumbai). It carries a purse of Rs.2 lakhs.

The Padma awards for 2020 have been conferred on November 8, 2021 by the President of India. The PADMA SHRI for dance goes to Shashadhar Acharya (Chhau), Indira PP Bora (Sattriya), Vajira Chitrasena (Kandyan dance, Srilanka), Purushottam Dadheech (Kathak), and 70 year old Moozhikkal Pankajakshi, the only practitioner of Nokkuvidhya Pavakalli, a traditional puppetry art of Kerala.

Nupur Arts' Artistic Director, SMITA VADNERKAR is this year's recipient of the One Dance UK Lifetime Achivement Award in South Asian Dance.

Kartik Fine Arts confers the following awards at the inauguration of its 47th Year Art Festival 2021 on digital platform on Dec 1, 2021 - NRITYA PEROLI for Sudharani Raghupathy, NADANAMAMANI for Jagyaseni Chatterjee and NATYA CHUDAR for Akshaya Arunkumar. KARTIK RAJAGOPAL ENDOWMENT AWARD for best cultural organiser goes to R. Nagarajan, secretary of R.R. Sabha.

SANTHA BHASKAR, Artistic Director of Bhaskar's Art Academy was conferred the PINGAT JASA GEMILANG (Meritorious Service Medal) on November 28, 2021 in Singapore. She received the award from President Halimah Yacob. Founder KP Bhaskar was bestowed the same award in the late 60s from then President Yusof Ishak. The Medal is awarded to any person who has performed service of conspicuous merit characterised by resource and devotion to duty, including long service marked by exceptional ability, merit and exemplary conduct.

In honor of Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval, legendary Kathakali maestro and founder of Kalasagar.
Kathakali: Vesham - Kalamandalam Chambakara Vijayakumar, Music - Kalanilayam Rajeevan, Chenda - Kalamandalam Balasundaran, Maddalam - Sadanam Devadas and Chutty- Kalanilayam Padmanabhan.
Bharatanatyam - Kalamandalam Sarojini, Mohiniattam - Vinitha Nedungadi, Ottenthullal - Kalamandalam Parameswaran, Chakyarkoothu - Kalamandalam Jishnu Prathap, Koodiyattam - Margi Ramachakyar, Thayambaka - Porur Haridas
Panchavadyam: Thimila - Vaikkom Chandran Marar, Maddalam - Kalamandalam Nataraja Warriar, Edakka - Dr.Balusseri Krishnadas, Ilathalam - Mattanur Ajith Marar and Kombu - Peramangalam Vijayan.
Kathakali Vesham: Kalamandalam Manoj, Sangeetham - Kalamandalam Balachandran, Chenda - Dr. Mankulam Krishnan Namboodiri, Maddalam - Kalamandalam Venukuttan, Chutty - Neelamperur Jayan, Ottenthullal - Punnasseri Prabhakaran, Koodiyattam - Sooraj Nambiar, Mohiniattam - Sandhya Rajan, Bharatanatyam - Saritha Ramanathan, Thayambaka - Dr. Sukhapuram Dileep
Panchavadhyam: Thimila - Peruvaram Mohanan Marar, Maddalam - Kavil Peethambara Marar, Edakka - Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan, Ilathalam - Peruvaram Soman (posthumous), Kombu - Cherai Sunil
This year, the awards for 2020 and 2021 will be presented on Dec 5, 2021 at Badhani School, Kunnamkulam, Thrissur.

Chennakesava temple, Belur, Karnataka
Chennakesava temple, Belur, Karnataka (Photo: Lalitha Venkat)



Dance expressions built round manifestations of divinised female and male energies
Trust arts activist and fierce advocate for the rights of women, Dr. Anita Ratnam, founder and managing editor of, to conceive of dance built round the theme of the 'Devi'- as the ideal expression for Navaratri celebration.

Bewildering variety in Narthaki's Devi Diaries continues
After such a varied impression of deified manifestations witnessed in Devi Diaries, how can one forget the everyday woman in real life, whose lot, to say the least, leaves much to be desired? Narthaki, very rightly felt that sans this realistic touch, the project on the feminine mystique would be incomplete.


'Online Culture': The idea whose time has come
The idea of 'online culture' should embrace all the domains: plastic arts, graphic arts, performing arts (dance, music, theatre, cinema and puppetry) and handicrafts.


Dance Criticism - A few principles for writing about Indian classical dance
I have many thoughts about excellence in technical execution, choreographic clarity and conceptual creativity in the many groups and soloists whom I have seen on American and Indian stages, and most recently on virtual platforms. But I do not write dance criticism - I do not critique my colleagues.


An Honorary Degree for Kumudini Lakhia: An opportunity for us to think of how hard work leads to honour, which begets honour
Let us talk today about honorary degrees given to artistes. This is not coming from the discourse in the country about dubious degrees, misleading titles, and unheard-of domains of study. Instead, it comes from the fact that Kumudini Lakhia, the grande dame of Kathak, was awarded an Honorary degree, of Doctor of Letters (D. Litt.), by the ITM University, Gwalior, on 20th Nov 2021.


Cultural (il)literacy
When a diva of dance, an MP of the Upper House no less, takes upon herself the task of retelling the tale of Ram Sita - Katha Siyah-Ram ki - for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, it is heartening to see passion meets education; beauty meets brains, Sanskrit meets Queen's English…

Power and what it does
- Paramita Saha
In our recent Arts & the Law sessions organized by, one question returned often: 'If the person on the other side is a really powerful one, what should we do?'


Dr. Liesbeth Pankaja Bennink
Bharatanatyam dancer and historian based in Amsterdam, Dr. Liesbeth Pankaja Bennink passed away on November 4, 2021. She was 66.
More info

Kavita Nagpal
Kavita Nagpal, theatre critic at Asian Age daily newspaper published from London and New Delhi, is no more.

An original choreography by Sadeck Waff
French dancer, choreographer and artistic director Sadeck Waff is known for his limb-centric performances. As part of the farewell ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, he choreographed a beautiful, precise geometric, synchronised work with 128 performers seated in wheelchairs. The dramatic music composition that accompanied the performance was created by Woodkid.
Beautiful kora music from The Gambia in West Africa
The musician Mafu Conteh is playing his own version of the song "Jarabi."

Write to us at
Subscribe / Unsubscribe
to the Narthaki monthly newsletter