July 2022


"I am nearly 75 years old. I live in freedom in an extraordinary city and worry about my former home and my mother's grave in (former Soviet) Latvia. This is Putin's war, not Russia's battle. I am not afraid to speak out and address Putin directly. This cycle of hate and fear cannot last."
- Ballet icon and choreographer MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV in a television interview from New York.

Anita Ratnam

Everything seems be on fire. Ideas. Ethics. Morality codes. Our words and actions.
Violence in several ways. Bloodshed through hatchets or by the gavel of the law.

In these turbulent and troubling times, we, the community of performing artistes, need to ask ourselves why we do what we do. Does it merely have a meaning for us, for our spirits and our souls? Is it a mere palliative, dousing us with self importance and creating an echo chamber for those who are willing to gather at our feet? Does beauty have power? Does the act of art making have a purpose beyond spreading positivity and hope? Is that not enough by itself?

Being away from home and the country creates a shift inside your being. I have found that from the moment I sit in my airplane seat, my mind begins to wander - forwards and backwards. What has just occurred and what is to unfold. I also find myself searching for WHERE I locate myself in the world of the Performing Arts. As someone who does not qualify as a "busy dancer" or a "teacher/guru" in the traditional sense of the word, I question myself as to "why" I continue on the path that I have chosen. And then something happens, a stranger approaches me in flight or during transit from another land, and the compliments spring forth about a work, a comment I have made on social media or a video they have watched during the pandemic. The self belief returns, stronger than ever, and I am smiling - inside.

Read on...


Natyarambha's TAMRAPATRA concluded its yearlong digital presentation with Vaibhav Arekar as the featured choreographer. The monthly series featured 12 different senior performers who taught a different composition of 15th century Telugu poet Annamacharya.
June  27 was celebrated as the 103rd birth anniversary of AMALA SHANKAR. 
'Muthulakshmi Reddy: A Trailblazer in Surgery and Women's Rights,' a biography authored by V.R. DEVIKA and published by Niyogi Books is to be released on July 2 at Kalakshetra, Chennai.
'Breaking Free' is a novel by VAASANTHI published by Harper Perennial India about the varied and turbulent world of devadasis, bringing the complexities of their history to life. The English translation is by N. Kalyan Raman.

In 1981, RAMYA HARISHANKAR and her husband HARISH MURTHY moved from Chennai to Irvine, CA. Since their early days in Irvine, with the support of the community, they have organized performances, festivals, symposiums featuring local, national, and international artistes, collaborating with local presenters, universities, and community organizations. Ramya and Harish were recognized as 'Distinguished citizens' with a plaque on Irvine's Wall of Recognition on June 14, 2022. Since its inception in 2006, more than 400 individuals and organizations have been included on the Wall.

The English version of abhinaya Guru G Venu's book MUDRA: THE LANGUAGE OF KUTIYATTAM, KATHAKALI AND MOHINIYATTAM, the classical theatre and dances of Kerala, will be available in a few months. It has notations of 1341 mudras, the world's largest collection of hand gestures.

Odissi Nrutya Alochana, the English version of the proceedings of the seminar in July 28 & 29, 1975 was released on June 15, 2022 by Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi. Compiled by Dr. Kalicharan Patnaik, translated from Odia by Malabika Patel, prefaced and edited by Dr.Ileana Citaristi.

Katherine Kunhiraman's KALANJALI in California celebrates 47 years this year.

Attakkalari's Way of the Masters series aims to empower its students with knowledge that lies beyond the pages of books in dynamic interactions with the masters. The schedule for the coming months includes intensives that will be conducted by Soni's School of Garba Dance (Garba), Nellai Manikandan (Devarattam), MD Pallavi (Music), Himanshu Nanda (Flute), Praveen Kumar (Bharatanatyam), Sunanda Devi (Kuchipudi) & Bijayini Satpathy (Odissi).

En Acte, South Asian stories with universal appeal, presented 'Dum Biryani' in its ReEnActe Series, from June 6 to 16, 2022.


Kadam director and Pulse editor Sanjeevini Dutta has been awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours. Sanjeevini has led the Luton-based company for three decades.

Kathak Guru Kumudini Lakhia is honoured with the GURU GOPINATH NATIONAL AWARD from the Government of Kerala.

The Bharatanatyam duo Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan received the NAATYA SELVAM award on June 6, 2022 from Muthamizh Peravai Arakattalai at the inauguration of its 41st annual music festival in Chennai.

Sarasalaya Chennai presented the KJ SARASA MEMORIAL AWARD to DV Kanakadurga (vocalist for Bharatanatyam & Kuchipudi), Dr.Ananda Shankar Jayant and Kuttalam M Selvan (nattuvanar) on June 17, 2022 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai.

RASHESWAR SAIKIA BARBAYAN SATTRIYA AWARD ceremony (14th edition) for 2020 and 2022 will take place on 8th of July, at Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, Guwahati.  For 2022, eminent art scholar Dr. Pradip Jyoti Mahanta and Sattriya exponent Sharodi Saikia will be conferred the award. The awardees for 2020 are eminent art critic Dr. Nita Vidyarthi, Manipuri dance exponent Kalavati Devi and Vaishnavite saint of Sri Sri Mul Kamalabari Sattra, Sonaram Sarma Burhabhakat.

Iravateswara Temple, Darasuram, Tamilnadu
Iravateswara Temple, Darasuram, Tamilnadu
Photo: Lalitha Venkat


Slick Kathak expression of an Unprecedented Awakening
Watching on video the latest solo presentation of Kathak dancer Sudip Chakraborty, one is made aware of the fact that the blanket fog over dance performances during the pandemic had its redeeming side too.


Evolution of dance - over aeons, everywhere
Dance 360 Degrees: Sarvatra Nritya, an ambitious program presented by Mahagami University, Performing Arts Department, on the World Dace Day (April 29), offers a unique comprehensive vision into the origin of dance.


MK & M.K.
Mohanrao K for Kallianpurkar - a lesser known strapping man of Kathak, on whom a well-researched book by Guru Shama Bhate and arts activist Arshiya Sethi has just been published by Sterling...My mother M.K. Saroja was unique, a world traveller without much formal education.


Veteran guru of Bharatanatyam, M.K.SAROJA KHOKAR passed away peacefully on June 13, 2022 at home in Bangalore. She was 92 this year and was a benchmark in Bharatanatyam of Vidwan Muthukumaran Pillai bani of Kattumannarkoil. While Ram Gopal, her mentor, Rukmini Devi her patron and Mrinalini Sarabhai too learnt from the same guru, only Saroja learnt exclusively from Thatha as Muthukumaran Pillai was called.
Born on 7th April 1931 in Madras (the M in her initials) her story is well known. Suffice it to say she was a star of the 50s, a seasoned artiste of the 60s and successful one in the 70s. By 80s, she had many students abroad, especially France, based at Mandapa, which her student Milena Salvini had started. Guru M.K.Saroja was a distinguished artiste and maintained a family life with a career. With four sons and many daughters or shishyas, she was the epitome of an affectionate guru. Universally called Mummy ji or Ma by most, her chief disciple is Vidya of Paris. Ambika, Vani, Jyoti, Uday, Arup, Radha and Rasika were some other known ones of her style.
3 documentaries have been made on her; 4 national awards, including the Padma and more. She remained unaffected by all and was a devotee at heart. Her son Ashish served her most of her life, leaving his career in Delhi and abroad. His wife Elisabeth cared genuinely for her till the end followed by Pratima of Vivek and Lalita of Nandan. Hari, her eldest, was an IAS allied, Nandan, a textile scientist, Vivek in hotel trade and Ashish, critic-editor. Guru Saroja has 5 grandchildren. She went away fulfilled.
She was a truly pan Indian artiste. Not limited to one city. She was born in Madras, lived in Delhi, Baroda, Punjab, Bangalore. Add dance teaching base in Paris, UK, Germany, Sweden and Italy. For a Tamil native, she spoke Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu, Gujarati and French. Her collaborations with Birju Maharaj, Kelubabu and Kalanidhi Narayanan made for benchmark concerts. Earlier her pet partners were Indrani, Damayanti Joshi and Sitara Devi. As her career lasted 70 unbroken years, she danced with 3 generations and inspired next.

Remembering M.K. Saroja, who put Bharatanatyam on the global stage
- S Sahaya Ranjit
Madras Kadiravelu Saroja died on June 13 after decades of pioneering contribution to Indian classical dance.

Editor / writer / Professor / dance and film critic, G ULAGANATHAN passed away at 1:15am on June 23, 2022 after a massive cardiac arrest. He was a former News Editor in Deccan Herald and Indian Express, Adjunct faculty, visiting Professor at Symbiosis School of Media & Communication, Bengaluru, and Member, Board of Studies, School of Media Studies at Pondicherry Central University. He was a regular contributor to narthaki.com.


Guru M. K. Saroja's performances and award ceremonies

Kaali Natakam | Vocals by TM Krishna | Performed by Dr Rajashree Warrier
'Samasthaprapancham', verses from Kaalinaatakam, Music set by RK Shriramkumar in raga Yamuna Kalyani

Rembrandt painting brought to life
A Dutch museum wanted to encourage people to visit their exhibitions. They brought a Rembrandt painting to life in a shopping mall.

Want to understand Mondrian's paintings? Try dancing to them
- Nina Siegal
"You can say that Mondrian wasn't even a visual artist," said the curator of an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth. "He was a composer."

Attakkalari's digital publication dedicated to writings and articulations on contemporary movement arts & dance.

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