View the newsletter in your browser and SHARE

March 2023


In love’s struggle

One withers, as the other blossoms
One is shaded, the other illuminated
One’s a sheep, the other a shepherd
One’s the feet, the other a towering head
One’s a glutton as the other starves
One rides the winds as the other is trampled underfoot
One blossoms, the other fades

Geetanjali Shree, Booker Prize Winner RET SAMADHI (Hindi)
From the English translation TOMB OF SAND by Daisy Rockwell
March opened with sadness. My guide, well-wisher and long distance mentor, Guru Kanak Rele passed away. It was on the morning of February 22 that she took her last breath. Ailing for several weeks, the end was predicted. But nothing prepares us for the finality of the end. In this instance, Kanakben departs with an amazing legacy of an institution, pedagogy, performance, teaching and 50 continuous years of dance-obsessed service!

Kanak Rele
Kanak Rele

She was a huge influence on my teenage life. My first memory was sitting in the Madras Music Academy in the early 1970s and watching her confidently explain each Mohiniattam item, standing before the microphone, with hand gestures. Measured English and allowing the sentences with the gesture vocabulary to reach the house full audience. It was that evening that got me started on how to introduce my own dance pieces. Fast forward to 1979. New York City. Kanak Rele was on a temporary visit as the wife of Yatin Rele, head of Bank of India. Together we organised an evening of Mohiniattam at the Indian Consulate and this time, it was me who introduced her to the audience of several diplomatic dignitaries..

Read on...

Ramya Harishankar, artistic director of Arpana Dance Company, Irvine, CA, has been a member of Narthaki since 2006.
Ramya Harishankar
In my early years in the US, much before the internet and ready access to the world, the Narthaki directory given to me by my mother served as a link to the world of Indian dance. The portal has blossomed into a unique one bringing together 'artists' from across the globe. This is your legacy, Anita Ratnam, and kudos to the Narthaki team!
Padma Subrahmanyam and V.P. Dhananjayan
V.P. Dhananjayan and Padma Subrahmanyam in Nrithyodaya's 'Viralimalai Kuravanji' as Kuravan-Kurathi
(Reproduced with permission) and Anita Ratnam present EPIC WOMEN

6 women, 6 films

Premiering March 4 & 5, 2023 at 10am IST

Tickets on Tikkl
Within India
Outside of India
EPIC WOMEN digital festival is a commissioned dance event. We invited dancers to choose a woman from the epics from India and in the final selection, 6 artistes responded in their styles to the women who fired their imaginations (Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Therukoothu, Martial Arts (Silambam), Mohiniattam and Contemporary).

The characters are familiar and not so known. We placed each artiste with a mentor to guide their initial improvisation and questions and then gave them the space to imagine the final product. The choreography, music, costume and filming have been decided by the individual performer with support from our organization. We are grateful to Madhu Nataraj, Ramanjit Kaur, B Jayshree, Nimmy Rapahel, and Parimal Phadke for mentoring the selected artists.

We are delighted to present EPIC WOMEN, a subject close to my heart and my own dance investigations, in a brand new digital avatar. Each of the performers have articulated their approach and vision which will enhance the viewing process.

We welcome you to EPIC WOMEN, and wish you watch, support and encourage these amazing women.

Featured artistes: Anuradha Venkataraman, Bindu Rajendren, Sruthi Mohan, Chitra Arvind, Madhuvanthi Sundararajan, Varsha Dasgupta, P Thilagavathi. The characters played range from Alli Rani, Medusa, Balamani Ammal, Vishpala and Shakuntala Devi the mathematician.

- Dr. Anita Ratnam


Guru Venu G's magnum opus 'MUDRA-THE LANGUAGE OF KUTIYATTAM, KATHAKALI AND MOHINIATTAM' is a rare book with 1341 hand gesture notations. It has the largest collection of hand gestures made so far in the world, compiled through practical learning over 5 decades. The book of 756 pages will be launched on March 1, 2023 and costs Rs.3000.

SAARASWATHAM, the autobiography of eminent Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam performer and teacher Guru Kalamandalam Saraswathy, is published in Malayalam by Mathrubhumi books and was released on February 2, 2023 at the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters, by Carnatic singer Bombay Jayashri Ramnath. The event was held at Kanakakkunnu Palace, Thiruvananthapuram. Kalamandalam Saraswathy is the wife of writer and film maker, M.T. Vasudevan Nair.

TAKE on Art in collaboration with Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia has selected Ranjana Dave as the winner of Art Writers' Award 2022. It was a very competitive edition and the jury reviewed compelling applications over several weeks. This edition's research residency will take place at Villa Strauli, Winterthur, Switzerland, an ideal choice given the city's rich cultural heritage, diverse range of cultural activities, many museums, and renowned contemporary architecture. During a 60-day research period in Switzerland, Dave will look at how language shapes the body in performance and spaces of training and rehearsal within Swiss and Indian context.

Between March 13 - 24, March Dance presents two workshops for dancers as well as artists from other disciplines. Jointly organized by Basement 21 and Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Chennai, the festival will host an improvisation workshop (Towards Collective Creation) and a reconstruction workshop (Chandralekha Textbook 2 - Prana).


Sangeet Natak Akademi selected 102 artistes of India who have made a mark as young talents in their respective fields of the performing arts for the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar by clearing the backlog for the years 2019, 2020 & 2021. The Yuva Puraskar carries a purse money of Rs. 25,000 and was presented on 15 February 2023 at Meghdoot Theatre 1, New Delhi, at a special ceremony by the Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi. Below are the awardees for dance.
Sudipa Ghosh (Bharatanatyam), Swati Sinha (Kathak), Okram Jelen Singh (Manipuri), Sreelakshmy Govardhanan (Kuchipudi), Swapnakalpa Dasgupta (Odissi), Prabhat Kakoti (Sattriya), Anupama Menon (Mohiniattam), Bishwanath Kumbhakar (Chhau)
Arupa Lahiry (Bharatanatyam)
Mithun Shyam (Bharatanatyam), Trina Roy (Kathak), Khagembam Khoni (Manipuri), Vasanth Kiran (Kuchipudi), Pravat Kumar Swain (Odissi), Jollymoni Saikia (Sattriya), Dharavath Raj Kumar (Perini natyam), Kalamandalam Vineesh (Music for dance)
Rekha Raju (Mohiniattam)
Pavitra Krishna Bhat (Bharatanatyam), Rudra Shankar Mishra (Kathak), Kalamandalam Adityan (Kathakali), Avijit Das (Kuchipudi), Vinod Kevin Bachan (Odissi), Dipjyoti Das and Dipankar Arandhara (Sattriya-Joint), V. Durgadevi (Karakattam), Ahsan Ali (Music for dance)
Sunil Sunkara (Kathak)

The awardees for 2019, 2020 and 2021 for Performing Arts were selected by the General Council of Sangeet Natak Akademi in its meeting held on 8 November 2022 at New Delhi. The honour of Akademi Fellow carries a purse money of Rupees three lakhs while the Akademi Award carries a purse money of Rupees one lakh, besides a Tamrapatra and Angavastram. The SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI AWARDS were conferred by the President of India in a special investiture ceremony on February 23, 2023. The dance awardees are:
Saroja Vaidyanathan,. Sadanam Krishnan Kutty, Darshana Jhaveri, Chhannu Lal Mishra, Bharat Gupt
Vasundhara Doraswamy (Bharatanatyam), Raghav Raj Bhatt & Mangla Bhatt (Kathak), Kottakkal Nandakumaran Nair (Kathakali), Manju Barggavee (Kuchipudi), Sutapa Talukdar (Odissi), Ranjumoni Saikia (Sattriya), Nirmala Paniker (Mohiniattam), Mamta Shankar (Contemporary Dance/Overall), Brajendra Kumar Pattnaik (Chhau)
Dr. Utpal K. Banerjee, Reetha Rajan
Meenakshi Chitharanjan (Bharatanatyam), Kumkum Dhar (Kathak), Sruti Bandopadhay (Manipuri), Pasumarthy Vithal & Bharathi Vithal (Kuchipudi-Joint Award), Rabindra Atibudhi (Odissi), Trilochan Mohanta (Chhau), Bhushan Lakhandri (Contemporary Dance), Prema Ramamurthy (Music for dance), Arambam Tombinou Devi (Music for dance)
Nandkishore Kapote, Mahesh Champaklal
Jayalakshmi Eshwar (Bharatanatyam), Shama Bhate (Kathak), Inchakkattu Ramachandran Pillai (Kathakali), Thokchom Ibemubi Devi (Manipuri), N. Sailaja (Kuchipudi), Neena Prasad (Mohiniattam), Bhuvan Kumar (Chhau), Kalamandalam Girija (Other major traditions of dance and dance theatre-Kutiyattam), Bijay Kumar Jena (Music for dance)
Vibha Dadheech, Premchand Hombal

GURU GANGADHAR PRADHAN SMRUTI SAMMAN instituted by Orissa Dance Academy in the memory of its founder Guru Gangadhar Pradhan goes to Bankim Sethi (music composer and singer), Niranjan Rout (Odissi dance guru), Satchidananda Das (mardala exponent), and Sadasiba Pradhan (Mayurbhanj Chhau exponent). The award carries a citation, angavastra and cash award of Rs. 25,000 to each awardee. It was given during the 19th Dhauli Kalinga Festival in Bhubaneswar on February 12, 2023.

Sharon Lowen has been awarded the AMA GOURAB SAMMAN 2023 for unmatched commitment towards promotion of Odissi dance across the globe by The Intellects Delhi Odia community.

Andhra Natyam guru Kala Krishna received the BURRA SUBRAHMANYA SASTRY NRITHYA PURASKARAM from Burra Subrahmanya Sastry Kala Peetam.

Madurai R Muralidharan received the NATYA ACHARYA CHOODAMANI from Pondicherry Natyanjali Trust for his contribution to the field of Bharatanatyam, on Feb 16, 2023.

For her contribution to Bharatanatyam in the USA and overseas, Bharatanatyam dancer Bala Devi Chandrashekar received the RASHRATNA SAMMAN 2023 and Award of Excellency instituted by the Hindusthan Art and Music Society, Kuala Lumpur, on 4th February 2023.

Niruthia Nityalaya of Chennai and Natyanjali Academy Association of Malaysia gave MADURAI R MURALIDHARAN the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Malaya Dance Festival 2023 held at Temple of Fine Arts, Malaysia on 22nd January 2023.


I am consciously looking at the outside from the inside. When I create material for work, I am always asking myself the 'what' question; 'What is it that I want to tackle in my work'; honestly, almost always the 'what' tends to be universal because artists are constantly reflecting the world in their art and what they are experiencing in their lives. The craft of the choreography lives in the how. The how is my craft.
Our process is slow and rigorous, spread over time. I like to spend a minimum of three years to create a production; in the first year, the focus is really to hunt and gather material; the second year is all about toying around; it's like we are in the realm of the absurd; experiment, explore and then in the final year, the actual creation finds form and expression.
- Akram Khan
('A sacred confluence' by Akhila Krishnamurthy, Open magazine, Feb 3, 2023)

Soorya Foundation for Performing Arts presents
6th Los Angeles Indian Dance Festival

De Toledo High School, 3pm
March 11, 2023 West Hills, CA

Pattadakkal, Karnataka, 7th to 8th C
Pattadakkal, Karnataka, 7th to 8th C
Photo: Seetha Ratnakar


Dr. KANAK RELE (11 June 1937- 22 Feb 2023)
A visionary, academician and Mohiniattam performer par excellence, Dr. Kanak Rele, founder-director of Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya (1972) and Nalanda Dance Research Centre (1966), passed away in Mumbai on February 22, 2023. She was a qualified lawyer with an LLB from the Government Law College, Mumbai and had a diploma in international law from the University of Manchester. She also had a Ph.D in dance from the University of Mumbai.
Dr. Rele trained in Kathakali under Guru 'Panchali' Karunakara Panicker. Her initiation into Mohiniattam came much later under Kalamandalam Rajalakshmi. A grant from the Sangeet Natak Akademi and later the Ford Foundation helped her delve deeper into her interest in Mohinattam and during 1970-71 she traveled to Kerala filming exponents of the dance form such as Kunjukutty Amma, Chinnammu Amma and Kalyanikutty Amma. The project helped acquaint her with the nuances of Mohiniattam and record its traditional and technical styles while also enabling her to evolve a teaching methodology for it. Her study of these artistes and their technique against the backdrop of classical texts like Natyasastra, Hastalakshanadeepika and Balaramabharatam led her to develop her own style of Mohiniattam dubbed the 'Kanaka Rele School of Mohiniattam.' Rele's association with the Malayalam poet and scholar Kavalam Narayana Panicker led to her introduction to Sopana Sangeetham and creation of choreographic pieces set to Sopana Sangeetam's talas.
Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya was established with the sole purpose to provide and promote academics in Indian classical dances in its pristine purity. Performing Arts (dance) was brought on par with every other stream of education. Rele's vision was to bring about the traditional sanctity of Guru-Shishya Parampara to every stratum of the society and especially to young minds. Nalanda's educational degrees is affiliated to the Mumbai University. Kanak Rele herself created a record by earning her Ph.D in dance, the first in India, in 1977. Her doctoral thesis was titled 'Mohini Attam: All aspects and Spheres of Influence'. She is the author of 'Mohini Attam - The Lyrical Dance' (1992), 'Bhava Niroopana' (1996) and 'Me and My Mohini Attam' (2022).
Kanak Rele's awards and honors include Gaurav Puraskar by the Government of Gujarat (1989), Padma Shri (1990), Kalidas Samman from Government of Madhya Pradesh (2006), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, MS Subbulakshmi Award, Padma Bhushan by the Government of India (2013).

Kathak Guru PT JITENDRA MAHARAJ, artistic director of Sangeetika, passed away in Delhi on February 18, 2023 after a brief illness on the day of Maha Shivaratri. A disciple of Guru Kishan Kumar Maharaj, he was an exponent of Varanasi gharana of Kathak. There was music in the modulated tonal richness of his fluent 'paddhant' (dance vocabulary) of rhythmic syllables. He was renowned for long breathtaking 'kavits' (lyrical poetry), dizzying 'chakkars' (pirouettes), incredibly complicated 'tatkar' (footwork) and the infinite laya (rhythm) and abhinaya variations. A consummate dancer and an accomplished percussionist, he had many dance productions to his credit. He set a trend in selecting themes of mythological and non-mythological stories. Along with his disciples he set a world record dancing at the height of 18,000ft at Kailash Mansarovar in 2003. He was a recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award given by the government of India. His prominent disciples include Kathak dancers Nalini and Kamalini.

Indian classical vocalist PT VIJAY KICHLU (16 Sept 1930 - 17 Feb 2023) passed away at the age of 93 in Kolkata. He studied Dhrupad with the Dagar Brothers and Khayal with Latafat Hussain Khan, whose style had a strong connection with Dhrupad. He and his brother Ravi Kichlu formed a famous classical vocalist duo.
An exponent of the Agra Gharana, Kichlu was the founder and head of the ITC Music Academy for 25 years until he decided to retire due to change in management at the ITC headquarters. Kichlu founded Sangeet Research Academy based on Gurukul concept for nurturing upcoming talents in Indian classical music. In 2018, he received the Padma Shri.

Lakshmi Viswanathan (January 1944 - January 2023)
- Jeetendra Hirschfeld
There are people in your life that come in, and you make sense to each other, and that is what I had with Lakshmi Viswanathan.

K Vishwanath: A Trailblazer
- Ranee Kumar
The sun has set on aesthetic cinema in south India with the demise of ace director Kasinadhuni Vishwanath.

Two gurus and an obit: Gurus Jitendra Maharaj and Kanak Rele
- Ashish Mohan Khokar
Two eighty year olds die within few days of each other. One a Kathak guru, another a Mohiniattam one. One in Delhi and one in Mumbai. Their initials also follow each other: J...K. Gurus Jitendra Maharaj and Kanak Rele - Feb 18, then 22 of the year '23.

DANCING ON AIR: Column by Kathakali Jana

Bharat Prem Katha - A new curriculum by Sharmila Biswas

- Kathakali Jana
Building upon the three pillars of dance, process, practice and performance, Odissi dancer-choreographer Sharmila Biswas has devised a series of online classes to be taught over one year.


Drishti Festival
Drishti started off as a palm-sized art mag by Anuradha and Vikranth - a smart, smiling duo of Bangalore - some twenty years ago.


The role of healing in Asia's traditional arts
- Shanta Serbjeet Singh

In search of the 'authentic' in the Performing Arts
- Shanta Serbjeet Singh.

Write to us at
Subscribe / Unsubscribe
to the Narthaki monthly newsletter