View the newsletter in your browser and SHARE

February 2022


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

Anita Ratnam

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...

EPIC WOMEN - Call for submissions

Roving eye


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 Tamilnadu.

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, Bengaluru.

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, Bengaluru.

Dancing Shalabanjika, Ramappa temple, Telangana Photo: Veejay Sai
Dancing Shalabanjika, Ramappa temple, Telangana
Photo: Veejay Sai



Dance aesthetics - loukik and aloukik
'Mana, Pramana and Anumana' (evaluation, verification and perception) presented by Chidakash Kalalaya Art space Spanda, on January 2 was squarely founded on the Nyaya Sutras.


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 Delhi.

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 memories.


Scholar, critic and great connoisseur of performing arts, especially Kerala forms, KANJOOR KRISHNAN NAMBOODIRIPAD passed away on Jan 1, 2022. He was 97.
More info

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 Maharaj.

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 compositions.

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.
More info

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).
More info

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 reckon with.
More info

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 Mastani' (2016).

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.


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 dances.

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 institution builder.

Salvini's daughters Isabelle Anna and Maria Kiran are Kathak and Bharatanatyam dancers respectively.
More info 

Jean-Michel Jarre in Notre Dame
Last year, Jean-Michel Jarre set standards for audiovisual spectacles by giving a VR concert in Paris's Notre Dame cathedral. This year he sets another milestone by making the concert available for everyone.

Riverdance at the Eurovision Song Contest 30 April 1994, Dublin
20 years ago, on April 30th 1994 something happened during the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest that was to lead to the creation of one of the most successful stage shows of all time and introduce the wider world to Irish dance and music.

Shyamala Mohanraj | A tribute by Neela Bhaskar
Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum in Pune

Pandit Birju Maharaj-ji rare documentary

The 50th Dance on Camera Festival announces line-up for 2022 Festival
- Chloe Rabinowitz
This year's program will highlight the festival's 50-year history while looking to the future of dance films and the festival's next 50 years.

Ski ballet
Ski ballet may not be part of this year's winter Olympics, but it sure was in 1988 and 1992.

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