We watched. That is all we did
Watched faces as they came in and out of focus
Watched as the angles of our vision widened
To include even what we would never see
In our lifetimes. This is how we begin
Somewhere in the middle
We lost our way
We thought mazes and labyrinths
And brains folded around themselves
Patterns teased and seduced us
We believed we had all the time in the world
- Excerpt from TWISTING, a poem by SRIDALA SWAMI
We have almost arrived at an important moment!
TWO WHOLE YEARS HAVE PASSED BY...
104 weeks that started with a "trial lockdown" on Sunday March 22, 2020 and will be completed on March 20, 2022.
And now, two whole years later, it is time to take stock of our lives, ourselves and our artistic pathways.
All of us have either suffered the virus - some more than once - and many have lost loved ones.
My own personal loss of my favourite uncle one month ago, came as a rude
shock and a wakeup call. Seeing the stream of mourners who came to
condole made me realise that no amount of wealth and resources can make
up for the way every face had aged, grayed and wrinkled over the past 2
Sprightly friends were walking slower, stooping a little, shuffling too.
Some came in wheelchairs and others were missing. The virus had taken
their last breath.
The only gleaming, glossy, glamorous objects on display were the new SMART PHONES that everyone was carrying!
Such morbid thoughts may not be the way to start an editorial when
Spring is in the air and we are all looking forward to warmer weather
and getting out into the "real world". Holiday and destination travel
have quadrupled. Read on...
IN THE NEWS|
KALIDAS SAMMAN was conferred by the
Cultural Ministry of Madhya Pradesh on February 20, 2022 on Shanta and
VP Dhananjayan (Chennai) for 2020-2021 and Sunaina Hazarilal (Mumbai)
for 2019-2020 during the Khajuraho Dance Festival.
South Asian Women Network and Allies - SAWNAA Award for South Asian
Women in Art Leadership goes to Dr.Priya Srinivasan. She is the
co-Artistic Director of Sangam: Performing Arts Platform and Festival of
Diaspora which she founded in 2019 as a corrective to the lack of
opportunities for artistes of colour in Melbourne.
On 12th March 2022, Shanta Dhananjayan receives STREE RATNA AWARD that
honours women achievers for their dedication and contribution in various
domains, from the Fine Arts Society at the Sivaswamy Auditorium, Chembur, Mumbai.
WUD (World University of Design) confers CRITICS' CHOICE AWARD on Sharon Lowen on March 5, 2022 at Delhi.
Sarangapani temple, Kumbakonam
Photo: Lalitha Venkat
The beauty of longer, "boring"
presentations is fast being replaced by made-to-order,
"less-than-a-minute", high-resolution capsules. For one, this has
changed the very art forms as they are presented on social media.
Secondly, it has led to a surfeit of content that stands the danger of
becoming cookie-cutter stuff. But, more significantly, the very purpose
of art is now to please people and see how to make the content go viral.
('The big question' by Anil Srinivasan, The Hindu Friday Review - 25 Feb 2022)
|TAALAM: COLUMN BY LEELA VENKATARAMAN
Mahagami's searchlight on pedagogical pathways for traditional performing arts within folds of university education
Meticulously planned by the Mahagami Gurukul, a two-day seminar
Vidyagama featuring eminent Gurus, experts, mentors and educators, put
the searchlight on evolving the right pedagogical paths for imparting
training, enabling the teaching and sustaining of traditional performing
Music Academy's digital all Bharatanatyam Annual Festival of Dance
One had no issues with the choice of dancers, though an all
Bharatanatyam 15th Annual Festival of Dance in a digital form, even when
sponsored by the Music Academy Chennai, makes viewing a taxing
experience for even the most committed of dance watchers.
DANCE MATTERS: COLUMN BY ASHISH MOHAN KHOKAR
Namakkal, Umayalpuram, Karur, Thiruvayyaru, Pudukottai, Oothukadu,
Kumbakonam, Papanasam, Nagapattinam and Thanjavur (Tanjore, Thanjai) ...
dots on a map but very important ones, full of history and heritage. Not
just of Tamil Nadu but India.
G.SUNDARI of Kalakshetra passed away on the morning of February 3,
2022 in a comfortable home in Chennai. She was 93 years old. She served
Kalakshetra as Superintendent of studies, was Secretary to Rukmini Devi
and Sankara Menon till she retired. She was a close friend of N.Ram of
The Hindu. She had her education in Besant Theosophical High School.
After post graduation, she joined Kalakshetra assisting Rukmini Devi and
Sankara Menon to build the institution. Her dedicated service to the
institution is laudable. Her father was a theosophist, so she lived in
the Theosophical Society in Adyar, Chennai, since childhood. She was
instrumental in helping publish 3 books on the Kalakshetra stalwarts:
'Nirmalam: The genius of S Sarada,' 'Sankara Menon Purushothaman,' and
'Krishnaveni of Kalakshetra.'
Thanks to Preetha Reddy (of Apollo Hospitals), Sundari Teacher as she is
popularly known, had a good and very comfortable old age care in a Home
for the last few years. With her demise, another important branch of
the Banyan Tree falls.
G. Sundari of Kalakshetra
- VP Dhananjayan
Ati Sundar-i: A personal homage
- Ashish Mohan Khokar
MENAKA BHANUCHANDRA THAKKAR (March 3, 1942 - February 5, 2022) passed away in Toronto after complications from Alzheimer's.
Menaka's life was devoted to dance. Born in Bombay, she started learning
at a young age, training in the Indian classical dance styles of
Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi. Menaka's training in Bharatanatyam
began at the age of four with older sister Sudha Thakkar Khandwani in
the Kalakshetra style. She then continued advanced training more
generally in the Pandanallur style with Guru Nana Kasar. During the
tenure of a three-year Fellowship Award by Bharat Sangeet Sabha of
Bombay, she studied with Guru Tanjavur Kadhirvelu Pillai; and later, on
intensive visits to Madras every year she studied abhinaya with Guru
Kalanidhi Narayan and a wide variety of rare works of the Tanjore
repertoire with Guru Kitappa Pillai.
Menaka studied classical Odissi, first in Bombay with Guru Ramaniranjan
Jena, and then in Cuttack, Orissa with Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. She
continued training with him during periodic visits. She studied
Kuchipudi initially with Guru C.R. Acharyalu of Ahmedabad, and later
with Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam.
She was an established dancer and dance teacher when she moved to Canada
in 1972. Soon after arriving in Toronto, she started Nrtyakala
Academy of Dance, which would train generations of young Indo-Canadians.
Its graduates formed the core of her professional Menaka Thakkar Dance
Company. Performing all over Canada, Menaka helped introduce classical
Indian dance to the Canadian arts scene. She also choreographed a large
number of original works. Many of these productions, often in
collaboration with some of Canada's finest dancers, provided
opportunities for the cross-pollination of Indian and Western dance.
Menaka's accomplishments were recognized by many honours over the years,
including an honorary DLitt from York University, the Canada Council's
Walter Carsen Prize, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for
lifetime achievement in dance, and induction in the DCD Dance Hall of
A cheerful and positive person, her smile said it all. She was inclusive
and helpful to visiting Indian artists. She was loved by her students
and will be fondly remembered by them and by her dance colleagues.
Siblings helped classical Indian dance flourish in Canada
- Aparita Bhandari
Throughout their lives, siblings Menaka and Rasesh Thakkar lived up to their names.
Koodiyattam and Chakyar Koothu artiste MANI DAMODARA CHAKYAR, a
nephew and disciple of legendary guru Mani Madhava Chakyar, passed
away in early February 2022 aged 76. He was a member of Mani Madhava
Chakyar's troupe that performed Koodiyattam all over India. He was the
first Koodiyattam student to receive scholarship from the Ministry of
Human Resource Development, New Delhi. Kerala Sangeet Natak Academy
awarded him for his contributions to Chakyar Koothu and Koodiyattam
(2000). He received the Kerala Kalamandalam V S Sharma Endowment Award
for 2007. In 2017, he was honoured with Kalamandalam Award for
The nayaka of Koodiyattam
- Sreevalsan Thiyyadi
Mani Damodara Chakyar kept the family legacy alive through his performances.
Born in Kozhikode, Kerala in 1923, dancer and theatre artiste BHANUMATHI RAO,
mother of dancer/theatre artiste Maya Krishna Rao, passed away on
February 12, 2022 aged 98. Bhanumathi first trained in Kathakali and
later in Bharatanatyam. She has performed with Ram Gopal's troupe and
Bhaskar Roy Chowdury in the UK and US. Filmmaker RV Ramani has made a
documentary on Bhanumathi titled 'Oh That's Bhanu.'
Ahead of her time
- Gayathri Iyer
The evergreen dancer and theatre artiste passed away aged 98.
SANTHA BHASKAR, one of the leading torch bearers of Indian
classical dance in Singapore and co-founder of Bhaskar's Arts Academy,
passed away on February 26, 2022 in Singapore, aged 82.
She was the chief choreographer and artistic director at Bhaskar's Arts
Academy, which was founded by her husband K.P. Bhaskar in 1952 and which
she first joined as an instructor. In 1968, she even modelled for and
was featured on a Singapore stamp. She was also advisor to Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society. Watching Chinese dance, Malay dance,
and other international dance forms influenced her choreography. She was
in the midst of directing the events at Stamford Arts Centre for the
second evening of Sangeetha Sapthathi, the show celebrating Bhaskar's
Arts Academy's 70th anniversary when she was suddenly taken ill and
breathed her last in the hospital.
She was awarded the prestigious Cultural Medallion in 1990, the Public
Service Star in 2016, the Meritorious Service Medal and inducted into
the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame in 2021. Santha received the Natya
Rani Award in 1975 by the Singapore Indian Film and Dramatic Society and
the Kala Ratna Award by the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Association.
Dance doyenne Santha Bhaskar, 82, was multicultural pioneer
- Ong Sor Fern
Reflections on the imaginative genius of Pandit Birju Maharaj
- Laurie Eisler
Maharaji is acclaimed for his talents not only as a dancer and teacher,
but as a choreographer, vocalist, percussionist, instrumentalist,
composer, painter, and poet.
LOOK OUT FOR
Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman
Sandhya Raju / Modern Kuchipudi / Performance Poetry
Riverdance on Ice
Jason Brown / Free Skate / US / Figure Skating Championships 2014
Brown's exhilarating "Riverdance" free skate went viral in a way few skating programs do, garnering millions of views.