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Monthly Newsletter
January 2021






2020 has given more to the authors of history textbooks than it has to the writers of diaries.

For all its eventfulness, 2020 has, for most of us, been a lost year. In several senses of the word. On top of the enormous loss of human lives, the pandemic paused many people's progress on long-plotted family and career goals. It forced countless celebrations, festivals and family gatherings either onto Zoom or out of existence. And it warped many people's sense of time, causing months-long stretches to seem interminable in the moment but like they passed in a blip in retrospect.

We have crossed over into a New Year. Like war time citizens, we too have yearned for a return to "normal." But, like the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, this pandemic may have far reaching repercussions for some time to come. That volcanic catastrophe caused major climate upheavals all across the Northern hemisphere including the USA. Water froze in the heat of summer, agriculture was wiped out, and snowfall was seen on July 4.

What has this "lostness" caused the artistic community? For the first time, each of us in the creative industries was in the very same boat. Out of work, performances cancelled, tours postponed, livelihoods threatened. Prima donnas, divas and devas, emerging dancers, fledgling actors, novice singers, newbie musicians - all faced a bleak scenario.

The delayed timelines, evacuation of public life, the absence of human bodies physically present for the live arts - these characteristics have made this lost year that we have lived through as a unique time, never experienced before in our lifetime.

And TECH swooped in - calling out to the nimble, adaptable, flexible, malleable bodies and minds. Nuance was out. Flash was in. Minimalism was pushed out by the grand gesture.
Read on...

ANDAL'S GARDEN is a series of curated performances celebrating the spirit and poetry of the only female Azhwar, Godai, for 30 days from December 16, 2020. Catch the first fortnight of performances here and soak in the ambience!

TAALAM TALKIES: Welcome O! Vannegada
Dance scholar and practitioner Swarnamalya Ganesh introduces us to the Telugu Padams and Javalis in the cinema of the 1940s and 50s, sourced by Jeetendra Hirschfeld of Sathir Dance Art.
Episode 1

Episode 2


KARNATAKA KALASHREE, the State's highest honour for dance, to be awarded by the Karnataka govt to MADHU NATARAJ and PRAVEEN KUMAR for their contributions to dance.

Germany's lower house approved 2.1billion euro to support culture in the coming year! The 2021 budget represents an increase of 155m euro over this year. This underscores the acknowledgement by parliament of the critical importance of culture in difficult times.

ABHAI has reached out to 747 artists in total to a tune of Rs 30 lakhs till date which includes Rs. 5,20,000 from the NAC Aanantham Foundation, Chennai. This includes 140 artistes from Kerala belonging to the All Kerala Dance Teachers Association who were all helped with the assistance of ABHAI Kerala coordinator Aswathy Srikanth.

SCL Rhythms Research Centre (Mumbai) awarded the BEST RHYTHMITE MAESTRO, the best teacher's award in dance (Bharatanatyam) to RADHIKA SHURAJIT.

PUSHKALA GOPAL to receive the GLOBAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD 2020 from Global Arts Academy.

RAVI SHANKAR UPADHYAY, a noted pakhawaj player and a teacher at Delhi's Kathak Kendra, was arrested for alleged molestation after a complaint by a 23-year-old student of the institute. Purported CCTV footage of the incident was handed to the police by the director of the institute.


Critic, dance scholar and historian and an ardent rasika of the fine arts who lived life king size, DR. SUNIL KOTHARI passed away of cardiac arrest in a Delhi hospital at 9.15am on December 27, 2020 after complications post Covid recovery. He was 87 and had dedicated a major part of his life to the cause of dance through his research works and writings.
Born on 20 December 1933, Sunil Kothari qualified as a Chartered Accountant before turning to the study of Indian dance. His researches in Bhagavata Mela Natakams, Kuchipudi and Kuravanji earned for him a Ph.D. from the M.S. University, Vadodara in 1977. For his researches in the dance sculptures of medieval temples of North Gujarat, he was awarded a D. Litt by Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta in 1986. He learnt Bharatanatyam from gurus T. Kuppaiah Pillai and Kalyanasundaram Pillai, and Kathak from Badri Prasad. He authored more than 20 books including Sattriya Dances of Assam, New Directions in Indian Dance, and also on Bharatanatayam, Odissi, Chhau, Kathak, Kuchipudi, and Photo Biographies of Uday Shankar and Rukmini Devi Arundale. He was a dance critic of the Times of India group of publications for 40 years. Dr. Kothari held the Uday Shankar Chair in Rabindra Bharati University, and taught in the Dance Department of New York University as a Fulbright Professor. He served as a member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO and World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific. He wrote for the Sruti monthly, The Hindu and Asian Age and had his own column in the dance portal
Dr. Kothari received the Emeritus Fellowship of the Department of Culture, Govt of India. He has been honored with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1995), the Gaurav Puraskar from the Gujarat Sangeet Natak Akademi (2000), Padma Shri from the Govt of India (2001), and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Dance Critics Association, New York (2011). Sunil Kothari was elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for his contribution to Indian dance as a scholar. He was last engaged in penning his autobiography in Gujarati and English.
As a person who has witnessed dance history in the making over six decades, a storehouse of knowledge with dates and anecdotes at his beck and call, Dr. Kothari's demise is a big loss to the dance fraternity. His contributions remain unparalleled and his presence will be sorely missed.

Tributes to Dr. Sunil Kothari

A pioneer and icon of Indian contemporary dance, ASTAD DEBOO is no more (July 13, 1947 - Dec 10, 2020). He passed away after a brief illness in Mumbai in the early hours of Dec 10, 2020.
Born in 1947 in Navsari, Gujarat, Astad Deboo initially received training in Kathak under Guru Prahlad Das in Calcutta and in Kathakali under Guru E K Panicker. Later, he attended the London School of Contemporary Dance learning Martha Graham's modern dance technique and learnt Jose Limon's technique in New York. He trained with Pina Bausch in the Wuppertal Dance Company, Germany, and with Alison Chase of the Pilobolus Dance Company. Along with these and other experiences with dance companies in Japan and Indonesia, he created a dance theatre style of his own which successfully assimilates Indian and western techniques. He experimented with a variety of forms, themes, concepts and performance spaces and collaborated with other dancers, composers and designers to create innovative works of aesthetic value.
Deboo choreographed for a few film directors like Mani Ratnam, MF Husain and Vishal Bhardwaj. He worked with deaf theatre companies in India, USA, Mexico and Hong Kong and collaborated with drummers of Manipur. In 2002, he founded the Astad Deboo Dance Foundation which provided creative training to marginalised sections, including the differently abled. Always on the move, Astad personally coordinated his programs, which stretched across 5 continents. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1995 and Padma Shri in 2007. He leaves behind a formidable legacy of unforgettable performances combined with an unswerving dedication to his art, matched only by his loving heart that gained him thousands of friends and a vast number of admirers.

Tributes to Astad Deboo

Bangalore based Guru G.S. RAJALAKSHMI, disciple of V.C. Lokaiah, passed away due to pneumonia and Covid, on December 17, 2020 aged 80. She was the director of Nataraja Nruthya Shala and was recently honored in Oct 2020 with the Kadhambari Lifetime Achievement Award.

Webinar on 'Artificial Intelligence Assists Dance' by Dr.Utpal Banerjee and Mridula Anand

Kalamandalam Saraswathy
Some clips from her performance in the eighties and later in the millennium.

Bho Shambho
Performed by Biswapratim Bose and Arnab AJ Halder
Alaska Airlines Safety Dance
At Alaska, we love safety so much, our employees made a music video about it.

DanceScapes by Purawai Vyas

DanceScapes - River by Nithya Garg


Yog Sunder: The dancer extraordinary
Yog Sunder, a dance phenomenon of this land, is no more, leaving behind an incredibly rich outcrop of dance events. He passed away just a few months short of 100 years of age.

A taste of Kathakali
In around a 12-minute solo, Prabal Gupta established his command over the intricacies of the classical form and proved to be a worthy disciple of the master.

Ineffable echo from an effusive era
Unable to travel home and adopting the digital medium, Sreyashi - groomed in Odissi and running her own dance institution overseas for years -- felt moved to choreograph six of the vintage songs her father wrote in the 1950s, calling it 'A Daughter's Tribute to her Father'...


Au revoir 2020, Welcome 2021
What a year! Whoever would've thought we will witness the most unusual and scary year, without even SEEING the enemy.


The coronavirus has interrupted and upended the performing arts, but it's also made something clear about dance: It isn't beholden to a proscenium stage. Its visibility, through TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and, yes, even people on the street, has been undeniable, even with theaters shut down. Dancers are still performing and choreographers are still creating, be it for a premiere on video, a reinvention of a classic or a combination of the two. While there's no denying that this is an incredibly difficult time for dance and dance artists, it's also been a privilege to witness such imagination and resilience.
- Gia Kourlas
('Best Dance of 2020' by Gia Kourlas, Brian Seibert and Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Dec 1, 2020)

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