your gateway to the world of Indian dance

July 2020


We dance...
to breathe, to bring the soul to the fore, to be free
to remember, to experience, to imagine, to connect, to share
to include all and leave none, to travel together, to persevere
to lift each other's spirit, to realise possibilities, to transcend boundaries
to inhabit spaces beyond the body, to manifest the extraordinary
to stand in the present and reach out to the future, to conjure the unknown
to be proud in our bodies, to coalesce all parts of our being into one
to wear eyes and ears all over our bodies, to welcome all colours and sounds
to reach the centre from the periphery
We dance to feel alive!
Stand up for dance! Stand up for all!

- Jayachandran Palazhy (Founder, Artistic Director, Attakkalari)

Another month passes. Touch is out. Distancing is in. Tempers run rampant. Patience runs thin. The body passes into numbness, no matter how hard we try to find a rhythm and a routine. Television is a cannibal, feeding on carcasses of dead ideas. In small cozy WhatsApp groups, the elite discuss "serious" issues and weigh in on life and death matters while sipping a "garam chai", filter coffee or a chilled Chardonnay - with coordinated designer masks of course!

How much longer can we continue to hope that things will resume as they were for the live arts? How fervently can we pray for the world to resume its chaotic but recognizable patterns? How many more appeals can we encounter without withering into cynical ennui? For those of us who have donated, supported, purchased and encouraged performers, crafts persons, weavers and creative people across all spectrums, the endless litany of woes does not seem to have a finish line.

Every evening, while the Social Media pages are ablaze with innumerable topics, I turn to a book or a piece of classical music to calm my restless mind. I have been unable to concentrate for long periods, impossible to watch even my favourite movie in one go. My cooking skills have jumped in quality but I hesitate to post food images in the canvas of hungry, hollow eyes. My feet walk 9 kilometres a day, according to my FITBIT. My body pours with sweat in the Chennai humidity. The mind buzzes but...

This body does not want to awaken to the vibration of dance. So I have allowed myself not to push it towards a compulsory movement. I have not been twiddling my thumbs either. Each month, a new digital avatar arrived onto several of your social media platforms, triggering the young minds and bodies across the globe in new and interesting ways. #BOXED has become a runaway hit... but more about that later.

What can we talk about?
As I write, India's borders are rumbling as soldiers face death. The prospect of war is ever present. Police brutality is not something we read about only in the USA. It is very prevalent in my home State.
But this blog is about DANCE and the LIVE ARTS. So however peripheral dance may seem at the moment, I must marshal my thoughts.

Read on...

BEYOND BOXED features movement excerpts and interesting short films from around the globe. Dance films by dancers. Not to be missed!

Includes 3 interesting works by Aakash Odedra, Damien Jalet, Willi Dorner & Lisa Rastl

Includes 3 brilliant short films by Preethi Bharadwaj, Nritarutya and Peter Chin.

Includes 5 engaging films by Bharatanatyam artistes across the world.

4 exciting films by Surjit Nongmeikapam, Astad Deboo, Sonia Sabri and Diya Naidu use dance as a tool to drive home a message.

At last a discussion on 'Economies of Performing Arts'
The economic situation of performing artists seems to be a subject which has never engaged the attention of economic planners of present day India. So it was a most pleasantly surprising move to have the IGNCA's Kaladarshan host a Webinar discussion on 'Economies of Performing Arts.'

Interactions and virtual Spic Macay Convention a unique experience - I
With all live programming cut by the pandemic crisis, the ever striving Spic Macay team put together a bouquet of select recorded programmes of acclaimed artistes, supplemented by live interactions with them on the internet.

Interactions and virtual Spic Macay Convention a unique experience - II
All the exchanges with artistes was by a carefully selected group of youngsters like Yashwant Parashar who through Spic Macay's programmes had acquired, over time, an understanding for the subject each was dealing with.

O for Omg!
OMG! That's what O has come to represent today, most. OMG indeed for the sheer survival skills of dancers, especially the FB-fittest lot, Darwin be damned!

Going viral, Going global: An artistic response to the challenges in the times of Corona
Delhi based dance photographer Innee Singh's real and formal name is Indirpal Singh. But I can assure you no one knows him by his full name. Innee is an unusual but winning mix of shy and friendly.

Pioneers of Corona Creativity: Dance Films on Poetry of Hard Times, Methil Devika, Shovana Narayan and Sangeeta Chatterjee
Not just are artists being unusually deft at using technology to stay united, in conversations and 'guftagu', living up to Sardar Jafri's hope in the nazm 'Guftagu band na ho', but they are coming up with amazing creativity, in the form of online concerts, and very interestingly dance films on poetry of hard times.

An audio-video-choreo trio
Among the plethora of online products let loose in the current depressing situation of enforced isolation and solitude, Within... from Within by Aditi Mangaldas and Drishtikon Foundation stands out with its excellence.

'Mohiniyattam: Its Art and Aesthetics' by Bharati Shivaji
- Dr. Sunil Kothari
The present volume by Bharati Shivaji, a celebrated exponent of Mohini Attam, takes the reader to those early years when there were no takers for this dance form of Kerala.

Six and a half decades on the stage
- G Venu
The renowned Kutiyattam performer takes a brief trip down memory lane at his myriad experiences on the stage, on the occasion of his 75th birthday.

Sitarist Pt. Partho Das passed away in Delhi at the age of 70 in early May 2020. He has played sitar in Satyajit Ray's 1977 Hindi film Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Player) under Birju Maharaj. He was a professor at Sriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, was associated with Kathak Kendra, New Delhi and retired as a music teacher from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi. Partho Das has composed musical scores for the productions of Bharatiya Kala Kendra, Triveni Kala Sangam, Natya Ballet Centre, Natya Institute of Choreography and items for the Kathak Kendra. His score for the documentary 'Manas, Chitrankan Evam Gayan' was awarded the best composition of the year in the category of dance and music. He received 'Sangeet Bhushan' award (2017) for his outstanding contribution in the field of Indian classical music.

Dr. Subhashini Chandrasekharan, Kalaimamani awardee, Assistant Professor, Nattuvangam Department of Annamalai University, Chidambaram, passed away on June 4, 2020, aged 50. She was the third daughter-in-law of Tanjai Arunachalam Pillai, a senior student of Guru Indra Rajan and has accompanied Dr.Vyjayanthimala Bali on nattuvangam.
More info

Apsaras Arts, Singapore, is a winner of THE STEWARDS OF SINGAPORE'S INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE AWARD, that aims to recognise practitioners (individual and groups) of intangible cultural heritage who are dedicated to the promotion and transmission of their practices, and have made outstanding contributions in their field.
This award is conferred by the National Heritage Board. Each awardee will receive $5,000 in cash and be eligible to apply for a project grant of up to $20,000 to further fund their work.

Mumbai's Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha's award for 2020 is to be bestowed upon the Bharatanatyam couple The Dhananjayans with the title of SANGEETHA KALA VIBHUSHAN. The award function is scheduled to be held on 5th December 2020 on the inauguration of the Sabha's annual Art Festival. The award carries a citation, traditional Tanjavur bronze lamp, award memento and a purse for Rs.2.5 lakhs.

July 3 - 18, 2020
Schedule for NIKC and Stem Dance Kampni.
- July 3: Madhu Nataraj conducts an interactive workshop online for the HERKEY women's conference titled UNLOCKING CREATIVITY. She shares the platform with Corporate and philanthropic women leaders like Vinita Bali (Ex MD Britannia Inds), Nirupa Shankar (Exec Director, The Brigade Group), Nicole Girard (Consul General of Canada)
- July 9: INDIA GLOBAL WEEK 2020 - 'BHARAT- WHERE TRADITION MEETS MODERNITY'. The biggest ever event on India's globalisation opens with a bespoke performance by Madhu Nataraj & the Natya Stem Dance Kampni
- July 18:  KAMPNI KONVERSATION is a bi monthly Art Reach initiative of the Kampni created to foster dialogues between individuals who share their distinctive thoughts, ideas and life philosophies with us. This time's speaker is the dynamic SRIRAM EMANI, founder- Indian Raga.

July 4 - 22, 2020
MOVEMENT NUANCES Instagram LIVE series on @rhythmotion_india Instagram handle with eminent and experienced artistes at 8pm IST.
July 4 & 8: Abhilash Ningappa (Contemporary dance)
July 11 & 15: Yamini Muthanna (Yoga & BN)
July 18 & 22: Anoor Ananthakrishnan Sharma (music composer)

The origin of classical form came from nature. This is what people don't get. They think, Oh, let's see: a pirouette. No! It existed in whirlpools and eddies and the way that the world turns on its axis and goes around the sun. So all of this is based in nature, and that's why it's always wonderful to go back to nature, because these are the true origins of this form.
- Alonzo King
('Note to Dancers: 'Drop Your Self-Consciousness' and Get Into It; by Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, June 17, 2020)

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