This is your country,
This is your world
This is your body
And you must find some way
To live within the ALL of it.
- TA-NEHISI COATES, American writer
As we enter February and the bright cheer of Basant Panchami (the
arrival of Spring as per the Indian calendar of 6 seasons), we are
confronting a very sobering thought. The necessity of NAVIGATING
FAILURE. The disappearing promise of a Covid free 2022 and the shifting
dates for dancers to return to rehearsal studios and house full
auditoriums. As I write this, I am very aware that the UK has thrown
aside all norms of Covid protocols and opened its borders and that many
theatres in North America are planning their Fall season in earnest.
Flights to India are full with so many arriving to visit their families
after a 2 year gap.
Performances are still occurring here and there in many Indian cities but the
online Mela continues. It is now a BIG BLUR. Thematic festivals are
jostling with one another for eyeballs, much like the offline Chennai
season. Some are faring well and others not so, with demand slowly but
surely decreasing and the big F word settling in - FATIGUE. Read on...
The newly formed UTPAL SAMPA KALA KENDRA
in Kolkata, the brainchild of scholar/writer Dr.Utpal K Banerjee, has
plans for Research, Documentation, Publication and Workshop Initiatives.
The aim is to be creative and innovative; widely relevant; speedy
execution; modest goals; and result-oriented.
NATYARAMBHA, the Bharatanatyam App has completed five years.
THE NANGIARKOOTHU ARTIST directed by Deepa Nair is a 12 min documentary
dance portrait of Aparna Nangiar that will have its New York premiere on
Feb 11, 2022 at the 50th Dance on Camera Festival.
2022 YOUNG ARTS WINNERS IN DANCE include Odissi dancer Malavika Singh, a
disciple of Bijayini Satpathy; Kathak dancer Reva Srivastava, disciple
of Anupama Srivastava. These dancers - all between the ages of 15 and 18
and/or in grades 10 through 12 - were selected for this honor through an
anonymous adjudication process.
DR. LAXMINARAYAN JENA, a disciple of Articulate Dance, has been awarded
the Junior Research Fellowship for 2019-2020 in the field of Kathak
dance by Ministry of Culture, Govt of India.
Bharatanatyam dancer ZAKIR HUSSAIN has been appointed as the Adviser for
the Music Schools run by the Department of Art and Culture in
New York City will be naming a street after JACQUES D'AMBOISE. Jacques
d'Amboise Place will have its permanent home on the northwest corner of
West 64th Street and Columbus Avenue at Lincoln Center. The intersection
is across the plaza from The David H Koch Theatre (formerly The New
York State Theater) where Jacques performed for 35 years with the New
York City Ballet.
Zoya from the House of Tata presents 'FINELY CRAFTED JOURNEYS' with Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan.
Padma Awards have been announced on the eve of Republic Day.
PADMA SHRI for Nalini-Kamalini Asthana (Kathak), R Muthukannammal (Sadir), Padmaja Reddy (Kuchipudi)
KARNATAKA KALASHREE, the State's highest honour for dance, was awarded
by Karnataka Sangeeta Nrithya Academy for 2020 - 2021to MADHU NATARAJ
and PRAVEEN KUMAR on January 14, 2022 at the Ravindra Kalakshetra,
The KARNATAKA KALASHREE AWARD for 2021 - 2022 was conferred by Sangeeta
Nrithya Academy, Govt of Karnataka, on D Keshava (based in Switzerland),
Padmaja Suresh, Kamalaksha Achar, Vidya Ravishankar and Balasubramanya
Sharma (vocal for dance) on January 14, 2022 at Ravindra Kalakshetra,
Dancing Shalabanjika, Ramappa temple, Telangana
Photo: Veejay Sai
THE EASTERN EYE: COLUMN BY DR.UTPAL K BANERJEE
Dance aesthetics - loukik and aloukik
Pramana and Anumana' (evaluation, verification and perception)
presented by Chidakash Kalalaya Art space Spanda, on January 2 was
squarely founded on the Nyaya Sutras.
DANCE MATTERS: COLUMN BY ASHISH MOHAN KHOKAR
Of Ministry, Maharaj, Milena, mutants and more
Seeing the Republic Day in person in Delhi, on among the coldest days of
the year, often wet too, was highlight of our childhood winters in
Don't just see, but also hear the child who dances
- Dr. Arshiya Sethi
Almost 6 months ago I was invited to do a prevention of sexual
harassment (POSH) training, online, by a dance school. In the course of
the training, I referred to the POCSO laws and was surprised by the fact
that not one in the group was aware of these laws, although more than
50% of the school's students were under 18 years in age.
Why do I hear it in Surround sound?
Why do I need to cast this column as an allegory?
- Dr. Arshiya Sethi
The quieter voices that are speaking today, having broken their silence,
are fearless voices- excavating excruciating, and often long buried
Scholar, critic and great connoisseur of performing arts, especially
Kerala forms, KANJOOR KRISHNAN NAMBOODIRIPAD passed away on Jan 1, 2022.
He was 97.
Kathak guru and choreographer of the Lucknow gharana, GURU MUNNALAL
SHUKLA (born 7 Dec 1943) passed away on January 11, 2022. He was a
grandson of Kathak maestro Achhan Maharaj, and a nephew of Birju
Shukla received his initial training in Kathak from his father Sunder
Lal Shukla. In 1960, Munna Shukla moved to Delhi to be with his great
uncle, Kathak maestro Shambhu Maharaj, maternal uncle Birju Maharaj and
brother-in-law Manika Prasad, a brilliant tabla percussionist. It was
with Manika ji that Munna Shukla began his training in tabla. In 1964,
he was awarded National scholarship for advanced training in Kathak by
the government of India. He became the Ganda Bandh shagird of Birju
Maharaj and for the next three years underwent rigorous training as a
soloist, apart from participating regularly in his Guru's group
He moved to Pune in 1968. The next seven years saw him imparting
training to the advanced students of Kathak at Kala Chaya, Pune. His
choreographic works in Pune include Taal Maala, Taal Chakra, Him Raja,
Rajput Ramani, Shahi Mehfil, Hindola, Kaliya Daman, Bansi Leela
and Shyam Bansuria. He contributed to the Poona Film Institute and
Marathi Theatre as well. In 1975, he joined Shri Ram Bharatiya Kendra as
a member of the teaching faculty. One year later he was called to join
the Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, as its teaching faculty. Over the years he
trained several artistes, a number of whom are active in the field as
solo artistes. In 2007, after retiring from Kathak Kendra, he was
invited to join the Shri Ram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, New Delhi.
In 2012, a documentary 'Arpan' was produced and directed by his disciple
Ruchi Saini around the works and personality of her guru. From 2015,
Munna Shukla imparted Kathak training at Saraswati Music College. An
expert resource person with Nehru Yuvak Kendra Sangthan, the Ministry of
Human Resource Development, and Spic Macay, he was associated with
Nalanda Vishva Vidyalaya as Visiting Professor. His expertise proved
very useful to framing of policy in some of the prominent cultural
institutions of the country. Nalanda University, Mumbai run by Dr. Kanak
Rele invited Munna Shukla's inputs in course designing of North Indian
Taal and Aesthetics of Kathak.
His awards include Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1988),
Sarangdeo Award by Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai (1989), Sahitya Kala
Parishad Samman (2003), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2006), Saraswati
Samman (2011), Rasheswar Saikia Borbayan Sattriya Award (2018).
He will be really missed for his great knowledge and his huge contribution to Kathak.
Kathakali maestro KALAMANDALAM KUTTAN (born in 1938) passed away in
Kerala on January 13, 2022 a month short of turning 84. He was known as
Dakshan Kuttan as he was popular in the role of Daksha. He received
several awards including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2008) and
Kerala State Kathakali Award (2019).
We call it a stage presence when we cannot for a moment move our eyes or
ears away from the actor on stage. SHAOLI MITRA (1948-16 Jan 2022) had
that commanding presence. In Bengal's cultural arena, she was a force to
Brijmohan Nath Mishra, popularly known as Kathak maestro PT BIRJU
MAHARAJ, passed away in New Delhi (Feb 4, 1938 - 17 Jan 2022), aged 83.
He was the torchbearer of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of the Lucknow
style of Kathak.
Birju Maharaj was the son of Pt Achhan Maharaj, and performed with his
father till he passed away when Birju was just 9. He then trained under
his uncles Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj. Birju started teaching
Kathak at the age of thirteen at the Sangeet Bharati in New Delhi. He
then taught at Bharatiya Kala Kendra, later the Kathak Kendra, New
Delhi, where he remained head of the latter till his retirement in 1998
when he opened his own dance school Kalashram in Delhi.
Even in the early part of his career, he was part of cultural troupes
sent abroad by the Government of India. In the 1970s, full length
mythological and historical dance dramas were the norm. Some that he
choreographed include Katha Raghunath Ki, Krishnayan, Roopmati
Baajbahadur. Mughal themes depicted were Darbar-e-Salaami, Shaahi
Mehfil, etc. In the 1980s some excellent abstract and purely rhythmic
compositions were made - Laya Parikrama, Naad Gunjan, Ghunghru Sangeet,
etc. Humorous ones like Samachar Darpan, File Katha and sensitive ones
like Anamya were appreciated for their unusual ideas. He spent every day
in creating something new and giving shape to new ideas. A master
storyteller, he interlaced his performances with incidents from his life
that captivated the audience. He tried to incorporate mathematics
and numbers into the dance form so that children could easily connect
to the difficult intricacies of Kathak.
He was an equally prolific singer, poet and painter. He was a composer
and a singer par excellence known for his command over thumri, bhajan,
dadra, and ghazal styles of singing. He was also proficient in drums,
tabla, and Naal (wooden two-headed drum). He could play many string
instruments - sitar, sarod, violin, sarangi - with ease, though he never
underwent any formal training.
In the film field, Birju Maharaj composed the music and sang for two
dance sequences in Satyajit Ray's 'Shatranj ke Khilari' and
choreographed the song "Kaahe Chhed Mohe" from the 2002 film version of
'Devdas.' He choreographed for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Devdas',
'Vishwaroopam', 'Dedh Ishqiya', 'Gadar', 'Janisar' and 'Bajirao
Mastani'. He won the National Film Award (2013) as the best
choreographer in 'Vishwaroopam' and a Filmfare Award for 'Bajirao
He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1964) when he was just 28
and the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civil honour (1986),
Kalidas Samman, Nritya Choodamani, Andhra Ratna, Nritya Vilas,
Adharshila Shikhar Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, Shiromani Samman,
Rajiv Gandhi Peace Award to name a few. He was conferred with Honorary
Doctorate degrees from Banares Hindu University and Khairagarh
University. He was also a Fellow of the SNA.
Birju Maharaj has hundreds of disciples who are actively pursuing Kathak
all over the globe. The Kathak maestro has left a legacy that will
continue to captivate people through the years to come.
TRIBUTES TO PT BIRJU MAHARAJ
Renowned archaeologist, Indic scholar, epigraphist, and an expert in
both Sanskrit and Tamil classical literature, Dr. R. NAGASWAMY passed
away on January 23, 2022. He was 91. He is known for his work on temple
inscriptions and art history of Tamil Nadu. Nagaswamy served as curator
for art and archaeology in the Government Museum in Chennai from 1959 to
1963. In 1963, he was appointed assistant special officer for
archaeology for Tamil Nadu state. From 1966 to 1988, he served as a
Director of the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department. He was instrumental
in starting the annual Chidambaram Natyanjali festival in 1980. He was
honored with Padma Bhushan in 2018. He authored numerous books, among
them 'Art and Culture of Tamil Nadu,' 'Tantric Cult in Tamil Nadu', 'The
sensuous and the sacred: Chola bronzes from South India' (co-authored),
'Vedic Roots of Hindu Iconography,' 'Masterpieces of Chola Art,' 'Tamil
Nadu: the Land of Vedas.'
MILENA SALVINI passed away in Paris on January 25, 2022 aged 88. She was
an Italian-born French exponent and teacher of Indian classical dance. A
trained classical dancer of Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam
from Kerala Kalamandalam, she had a whole lot of performances to her
credit. Especially known for her services to Kathakali, in 2019 she was
awarded the Padma Shri and ICCR Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015 (in
absentia). She dedicated her life to Indian culture and Indian classical
In 1962, Salvini got a two-year scholarship to train in Kathakali at the
Kerala Kalamandalam. Upon her return to France, she established a tour
by the Kathakali troupe of the Kalamandalam under the auspices of
UNESCO. She married Roger Filipuzzi, an architect in 1974. Salvini and
Filipuzzi opened the Mandapa Centre in Paris in 1975 to teach classical
dance. She provided a platform for Indian classical dance in Paris and
it soon became a legendary venue for every Indian classical dancer.
In 1980, she arranged for the Kalamandalam's Kutiyattam troupe to travel
to Europe with funding from UNESCO. In 1999, another Kutiyattam tour
she organised contributed in making Kutiyattam enter the list of
UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. She has written books
and produced films on Kathakali and Kutiyattam. The dance world has
lost a pioneering artiste, a dance impresario, and a visionary
Salvini's daughters Isabelle Anna and Maria Kiran are Kathak and Bharatanatyam dancers respectively.