June 2021


The silence, was broken by a sob
In the darkness, a shadow trembled
The air was damp, with unshed tears...
...and had a strange smell of sorrow
The melancholic gloom..of a broken spirit, a bruised heart...
dying a slow death...in deafening desolation!

- Romi Mittal

As the list of beloved and admired artistes being felled by the virulent India-B 16:17 variant increases almost daily, all of India is in intense lockdown mode. The rest of the world seems to be slowly unfurling into a quieter and more cautious movement towards "normalcy". The gates of homes are open, sidewalks are spilling over with friends finally meeting over coffee and endless chatter, and yes, artistes are prepping for some outdoor events this summer.
But not in India, as we seem to be facing a never ending stretch of dreary monotony.

In this edition, however, I have chosen to focus on the 8 digital dance premieres that have made us all smile. Even if it is short lived.

Read on...



SHANTA DHANANJAYAN plays a retired headmistress in a Tamil film directed by Vasantabalan.

The doc feature IN BALANCHINE'S CLASSROOM, about legendary choreographer GEORGE BALANCHINE, directed by Connie Hochman chronicles some of the students of Balanchine during the 1960's and 1970's. The movie includes never-seen-before archival footage of Balanchine at work during rehearsals, classes, and in preparation for some of his seminal works, along with interviews with his most adored and adoring dancers and those who try to carry on his legacy today. The film is slated to be released on September 17.

The BRITISH COUNCIL for the first time has announced scholarships to study Creative Economy in the UK. It has partnered with four leading UK universities to offer post-graduate study in Culture Policy and Arts Management.

SHOBANA BHALCHANDRA is now on board at Bharata Kalanjali as the Executive Director and will be merging her dance institution Tharanginee with Bharata Kalanjali.

The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory (NBC) in Torrington (Connecticut) strips dance of name after Hindu activist calls it 'patronizing' and 'caricaturing.' It has renamed performance of iconic ballet 'La Bayadère' as 'PETIPA HIGHLIGHTS,' a celebration of Petipa's choreography and assured no stereotyping in its presentation during its Graduation Performance Series (May 18-21). As such, the excerpts are devoid of context and convey no story to the audience.

RAJESWARI SAINATH has been awarded a PhD doctorate for her topic 'A study on time management of Karaikudi Mani's laya patterns in Bharatanatyam'.

KATHAKALI JANA, Kolkata based Arts writer, is holding another edition of her successful Dance Appreciation workshop.

MADHU NATARAJ has started a successful series of MTM - Move in the Moment online sessions for all creative people. Combining yoga, aerobics, breathing and mindful movement.

YAMINI MUTHANA is conducting special sessions for pre natal yoga for pregnant women.

MAYA DANCE THEATRE ( Kavitha Krishnan) has produced a digital dance series called SEEDS, focusing on people with DOWNS SYNDROME.

UPASANA ARTS UK completed their extensive course on Sangam poetry conducted by Tamil scholar Professor R Raghuraman with a grand festival featuring some of the students and performances as works-in-progress.

PADMA SUBRAHMANYAM's weekend workshop for SAMARPANA ARTS raised nearly 6 lakh rupees from numerous students from as far off as Brazil.

Berlin based RAJYASHREE RAMESH conducts a FASCIANATYA methodology certification course developed by her in a first ever professional level programme that integrates deep insights in traditional practices of Natya with movement studies and current fascia research.

The TWELFTH KALASAGAR AWARDS for exemplary contribution in the field of traditional performing arts for the year 2021 as selected through nominations received from art connoisseurs.
- Kathakali
Vesham/Actor: Kalamandalam Manoj, Paattu/Music: Kalamandalam Balachandran, Chenda/Percussion: Dr. Mankulam Krishnan Namboothiri, Maddalam/Percussion: Kalamandalam Venukuttan,Chutty/Makeup: Neelamperur Jayan
- Ottenthullal: Punnasseri Prabhakaran, Koodiyattam: Sooraj Nambiar
- Mohiniattam: Sandhya Rajan, Bharatanatyam: Saritha Ramadevan
- Thayambaka: Dr. Sukhapuram Dileep
- Panchavadyam:
Thimila: Peruvaram Mohanan Marar, Maddalam: Kavil Peethambaran Marar, Edakka: Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan, Ilathalam: Peruvaram Soman (posthumous), Kombu: Cherai Sunil
The presentation of the awards scheduled on 28th May 2021, the 97th birth anniversary of Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval, stands postponed due to the pandemic situation.

Mallikarjuna temple, Basaralu, Karnataka (Photo: Lalitha Venkat)



Chakshu - Dance from the perspective of the camera
Looked at from any perspective, the three day virtual festival CHAKSHU jointly organised by Kalpataru Arts and Kri Foundation, featuring dance viewed from the perspective of the camera lens, was a clear winner....

Back to the roots in Nupur Zankar's marathon Sanskriti Mahotsav on Kathak Gharanas
In what was a painstakingly ambitious enterprise involving gurus of all gharanas, performers pertaining to three generations, providing space for what went as interactions, the flawless organisational finesse had to be lauded.


A triptych of femininity
Sharmila Biswas, the acclaimed Odissi dancer of the eastern metropolis, has produced an engrossing study of the woman's psyche in her latest dance production.

Remapping routes in a warped world
CHAKSHU (the Eye), was a 3-day composite program of filmed dances and erudite self-exploration by dancers and scholars in a Webinar on May 7-9, organized by Kri Foundation in collaboration with Kalpataru Arts with global participation, that examined the germane issues.


Dancer RAMU KANAGAL, the founder of Kanagal Nrithyalaya in Bangalore, passed away of Covid complications on April 28, 2021. He was 53.

BALA LAL, wife of late Kathak maestro Pt Durgalal, passed away on May 2, 2021. She was 68.

JACQUES D'AMBOISE, who shattered stereotypes about male dancers as he helped popularize ballet in America and became one of the most distinguished male stars at New York City Ballet, died on May 2, 2021 at his home in Manhattan. He was 86.

Akhila Bharatha Kuchipudi Natya Kalamandali Secretary, Kuchipudi Guru, promoter of Kuchipudi and a dedicated academic, PASUMARTHI KESAVA PRASAD passed away in Kuchipudi Village on the morning of May 7, 2021.
Born in 1952, he hailed from a traditional Kuchipudi dance family. His father Subramanya Sastry was known for female personification roles in Kuchipudi Yakshaganam and his grandfather was famous Kuchipudi Yakshaganam artiste Vedantam Ramakrishnaiah. Kesava Prasad received his training from Vedantam Parvateesam, P.V.G. Krishna Sarma and Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam. He had a stint as a dance assistant in Sri Siddhendra Kalakshetram from 1978 to 1983. He enacted various roles in Kuchipudi Yakshaganam like that of Aniruddha, Lord Krishna, Madhavi, Indra, Chandamarkulu, Banasura, Balichakravarthi among others. He was an integral part of the entourage of famous Kuchipudi Yakshaganam artists like Vedantam Rattaiah Sarma, Dr. Chinta Ramanadham, Pasumarthy Venkateswara Sarma, Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam, and Dr. Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma. Kesava Prasad had dedicated his life to Kuchipudi dance and his demise is a great loss to Kuchipudi.
K Vijaya, one of the early students of Shankarananda Kalakshetra, succumbed on the morning of May 13, 2021 to Covid, after a 20 day hospitalisation. Hers was the 3rd arangetram of the institution in April 1984. She was also part of some of Shankarananda Kalakshetra's early productions.

Kuchipudi Guru DR. CHINTA ADINARAYANA SARMA (born on Aug 2, 1955) passed away on May 24, 2021. A prolific artist hailing from traditional Kuchipudi families of Chintavari Melam, he was a genius nattuvangam artiste with calculative precision, a unique choreographer with a prolific contribution, and researcher. He trained under his father Chinta Radhakrishnamurthy, uncle Chinta Krishnamurthy, P. V. G. Krishna Sarma and Vempati Chinna Sathyam. Chinta Adinarayana Sarma worked within the boundaries of the tradition and improvised stage techniques as early as 1970s and 1980s using magnificent settings. For his choreography of the dance drama 'Ushodayam,' the birth story of Jesus Christ, he received his Ph.D in Kuchipudi dance. He started Sri Radhakrishna Kuchipudi Natyalaya in 1983. Some of the awards he received are Natya Visharadha, Deva Parijatham, Natya Vigyan, and Natya Kalanidhi.
More info

Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and mentor, Guru B BHANUMATI passed away in Bangalore on May 24, 2021 of Covid related complications. She was trained under legendary gurus K.N Dandayuthapani Pillai, Dr.K.Venkatalakshamma and Kalanidi Narayanan. She was the founder director of Nritayakalamandiram in Bangalore. Bhanumati was a recipient of senior fellowship of ministry of human resources development for pursuing higher levels in group choreography where she broke new grounds in both classical content, aesthetic appeal and overall impact. She was a dance icon especially for her ensemble choreographies that were eye catching, graceful and elegant. She has been honored with the Rajyotsava Award by Govt of Karnataka (2001), Karnataka Kalashree, Natyakala Tapasvini, Shreshta Kala Pracharak, Chanakya Kautila award, Aryabhata Award etc.

VENKAT VEMPATI, the elder son of Guru Vempati Chinna Sathyam, passed away on May 25, 2021. He was 55. He was secretary of Kuchipudi Art Academy founded by his father in Chennai in 1963. He also offered Kuchipudi classes at their house in their ancestral village of Kuchipudi, in collaboration with Krishna University (KRU-Machilipatnam). He launched the 'Save Kuchipudi' campaign in 2020 to extend support to dance teachers. Venkat is survived by his dancer wife Srimayi and children Lakshmi Kameswari and Aneesh Venkat.


Bharat Dave carved a niche for himself in theatre
- Dr. S.D. Desai
Veteran theatre director Bharat Dave (1948-2021) was a multi-talented person, so unassumingly close to all of us that we never realized he had these talents.

Lover of arts K.D. Chandran is no more
- Vijay Shanker
One of the leading social and cultural personalities of Mumbai, K. Doraiswamy Chandran, left for his heavenly abode on 16th May 2021.

'Bhanu aunty had a magical connection with everyone'
- Praveen Kumar
Her ever-smiling face and sparkling eyes remind me of a small girl who looks for beauty in whatever she sees.

B Bhanumati: Her art reflected her beauty
- Jyothi Raghuram
Sparkling with childlike enthusiasm, reflected enchantingly in her eyes, lively and spirited, she pioneered many firsts in classical dance.

Nalacharitham 2nd Day - Kalamandalam Gopi
Gopi Asan- Nalan, Margi Vijayakumar- Damayanthi

Bhumika - Ramya Harishankar & the Arpana Dance Company

Classical Dances of India/Ep-19/ Anita Ratnam/Chandralekha
An abridged version of this series titled 'When the Gods Dance' won the 'Creative Excellence Award' at the U.S.International Film and Video Festival, LA in 1999.

Hero is a breathtaking short dance film highlighting personal growth.
Stunning photo series spotlights the graceful movements of dancers
- Kelly Richman-Abdou

Celebrating Bhoomika at 48
Founded in 1972 by renowned choreographer Narendra Sharma, the dance company created a niche for itself. The company is now headed by Bharat Sharma.

Brief but spectacular
96-year-old Stuart Hodes took his first dance lesson at the Martha Graham school after being discharged from a distinguished stint as an air force aviator in World War II...


ENVIRONMENTAL DANCE, a Photography coffee-table book on dance by photographer Sam Kumar.
It has 126 pages featuring 18 international dancers. The photos were shot in India, Singapore, Thailand and Bali. The aim of this project is to create awareness of environmental preservation. Foreword is written by Dr. Anita Ratnam.The book is available on Amazon in India and other countries.
Video preview of the book
Publisher: Buuks Publishing, Chennai
It's also now available as an e-book. Costs Rs.299 only.
Artists have figured out ways to put their work online: Zoom concerts, Zoom plays, Zoom stand-up sets, Zoom choreography, Zoom book talks, Zoom gallery shows. But by and large they haven't figured out how to make money from it. Because the one thing we won't do for the art that we enjoy online is pay for it. This is in part because of expectations that were established early on in the pandemic. Musicians, especially famous ones, jumped online to do free shows - for morale, for the novelty factor, for attention - and that set the going price at zero. The same went for classes, webinars, and talks. But mostly, people aren't paying for content now because they weren't paying for it before. More content, different content, even better content: none of that was going to change our habits.
('Stages of Grief' by William Deresiewicz, Harper's Magazine)

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