May 2021


I cannot write
Of death tolls and fires
Of slow tsunamis
Of puzzlement and pandemic
Of street side funeral pyres

I can only paint
The riot of white hibiscus blooms
On the stoop
How you strain towards the sun
How you droop
Without water, how you wither
How you fall
How then you're on your own
How we'll all
Be the same in the end

- DENIAL by Akhila Ramnarayan

India has descended into COVID HELL.

"I CANNOT BREATHE" has become the chant as gasping citizens collapse as our health care system is overwhelmed by the crisis.

Living like frightened creatures, cowering inside our bio bubble homes, we wait and watch.
Even with the extreme precautions, this double mutant India variant of the Covid virus has infiltrated lungs and snatched loved ones. And we are wondering - Are we next?

Our friends are sick. Our colleagues are sick. Our neighbours are sick.

Read on...



THE KENNEDY CENTER is planning an extended celebration of its 50th anniversary in its 2021-2022 season, featuring new commissions by Philip Glass and Esperanza Spalding, year-long artist residencies by the Roots and Robert Glasper, interactive exhibitions commemorating its first five decades and a new outdoor bronze statue of JFK.

Bollywood actor and theatre artist SHREYAS TALPADE launches the first-ever OTT arena dedicated to theatre and performing arts. NINE RASA aims to re-ignite the offline theatre experience through the digital platform.

Dancer MANDEEP RAIKHY continues his national journey through THE SECULAR PROJECT that explores secularism as a cultural practice through bodily rituals. Mandeep Raikhy sees this project as an opportunity for him to move into the landscape of the country without speculating the outcome. The key provocation that he offers is - "In what ways can the moving body make an argument for this key value enshrined in our constitution?"
Since early March 2020, he has been building a variety of rituals and processes to keep the idea of 'secular' alive especially in the times of religious fundamentalism. Initiated in Delhi, the project has so far traveled to the length and breadth of the country. His recent exploration with Masoom Parmar, shared on Narthaki, received some impassioned responses from Swapna Sundari amongst others. The project is right now in Pondicherry, creating waves and initiating conversations.

Akram Khan is reviving THE JUNGLE BOOK and is holding auditions for it from May 24 -29, 2021 at London.

ASIA BOOK OF RECORDS and INDIA BOOK OF RECORDS have recognised U.S. based SWATHI LAKSHMANAN for conducting a virtual music and dance festival of Indian classical art forms titled'Margazhi in San Francisco' for the maximum number of consecutive days during the pandemic. The festival was held from December 2020 to January 2021and featured more than 56 artistes from across the globe.

British Council has announced its 2021 awardees for dance, theatre and folk arts.
1. Derry/Londonderry, electronic music festival, Celtronic has partnered with New Delhi online radio station to create new music through artistic collaboration.
2. Arts Ekta - the cultural charity responsible for the Belfast Mela - has joined forces with Rhythm and Ragas, a traditional performing arts group in Rajasthan to develop new outdoor street theatre performances
3. Musician Marty Coyle, together with Donegal's Earagail Arts Festival, will work together with the Jodhpur RIFF festival in Rajasthan to create a new touring show.
4. The Lyric Theatre will connect with Rage Theatre in Mumbai to explore themes of colonialism, communication, and language.
5. Independent theatre company Kabosh together with Creative Arts India are developing work around women's rights and gender violence across Kolkata, Delhi, Belfast and Derry / Londonderry.
1. Diffusion festival in Wales and Chennai Photo Biennale in India with five commissioned photo artists from Wales and India who will explore the theme of 'Nation State' and the surrounding socio-political intersectionality responding to the crises of our time through lens-based art interventions, installations, discussions and talks. The photo-artists are Dipanwita Saha, Palani Kumar, Tarun Bhartiya, Sebastián Bustamante and Huw Alden Davies.
2. Cardiff's international arts festival Festival of Voice and Jodhpur RIFF join hands for a collaborative project led by women artists from Wales and India. The lead artists are Laura Tofarides, a stop motion animator based in Cardiff, and Mahima Dayal Mathur (professionally known as Bawari Basanti), a Hindustani classical and folk singer-songwriter from Delhi
3. Ziro Festival of Music partners with Wrexham's FOCUS Wales for a music exchange programme to develop new collaborative work between Welsh and Indian artists across art forms.
4.Singer-songwriter and Welsh Music Prize winner Gareth Bonello will work with Jodhpur RIFF roots music festival to develop a three-region collaboration with musicians from Wales, the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, and Rajasthan.
5. An artist collaboration and development project with Wales-based Theater Lolo and Hyderabad Children's Theatre Festival that will engage Indian and Welsh theatre artists through research, mentorship, and co-development of a children's theatre piece.

University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in Winston-Salem has announced the removal of ballet "La Bayadère" from its upcoming Spring Dance concert (April 30 to May 8), after Hindus protested saying it "seriously trivializes Eastern religious and other traditions." Hindus are also critical of Korean National Ballet (KNB) in Seoul for hosting "La Bayadère" (April 27 to May 2) for "displaying Western caricaturing of Eastern heritage and abetting ethnic stereotyping."

Chennakeshava temple, Belur, Karnataka (Photo: Lalitha Venkat)



Navarasa Sadhana - Breath control for emoting in art
Kutiyattam specialist G.Venu of Natana Kairali of Irinjalakuda, through years of deep inquiry into Kunjunni Thampuran's mind- boggling technique, became more and more convinced that this traditional knowledge system had to be made more accessible to enrich the contemporary performing artiste's technique.


The plain speaking puppets
CHI CHI LAND, a puppet play mounted on March 21 (incidentally, also the World Puppetry Day) by Kolkata's well-known Dolls Theatre, was a most eloquent case in point to illustrate the master puppeteer's observation.


was inspired by "The Hymn of Creation", a 3,000-year-old Sanskrit hymn from the Rig Veda.


V.S. Amarnath Sury, Secretary of Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha, passed away on 2nd April 2021. He was 79.
Shanmukha Ratna V.S. Amarnath Sury
- Vijay Shanker

Mumbai based dance critic Bhanu Kumar passed away on April 20, 2021 after a brief illness. Her service to the arts, her unbiased writings and reviews, bringing classical dance and music to mainstream media and her constant support and encouragement was an invaluable contribution and she leaves a huge void that's hard to be filled. A multi-faceted personality, she was also a script writer, director and stage actor. She is survived by her son Karthik and dancer daughter Sukanya Kumar.

Veteran critic Sunil Mishr of Bhopal passed away on April 23, 2021.
"His eagerness to learn, his exquisite command over Hindi, his extremely sensitive take on issues and his aesthetic reactions to the creative process was truly daunting. And his command over cinema, theatre, literature, philosophy, dance and music was of heroic proportions," says Geeta Chandran.

L Sabaretnam - Director and Chairman of Chennai Super Kings Cricket Ltd, Former Chairman of Chettinad Cement Corporation, independent director on the board of Indian Oil Corporation and Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd., former President of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Chennai) and Kartik Fine Arts - passed away on April 25, 2021 in Chennai after a brief illness. He was 80.

Hindustani classical vocalist Pt Rajan Mishra, a legend of Indian classical music, passed away from Covid complications on April 25, 2021 at a Delhi hospital. He was 70. Along with his brother Sajan Mishra, he was one of the foremost exponents of khayal gayaki. The brothers belong to the Banaras gharana.
Pt Rajan Mishra's exit - a bolt from the blue
- Dr. SD Desai

V. Krishnan, husband of late dance guru Jamuna Krishnan and father of dancer Ragini Chandershekar, passed away on April 25, 2021 at Delhi.

Bharatanatyam exponent, theatre person and acclaimed choreographer Swagata Sen Pillai passed away from Covid complications on April 26, 2021. She has choreographed over two dozen dance-dramas and a number of traditional classical items in ten different Indian languages. Her institution Kinkini Dhvani established in 1991 in the precincts of Uttara Guruvayoorappan Temple in Mayur Vihar, is one of the most prominent centers for excellence in Kalakshetra style Bharatanatyam in the NCR. Fluent in eight languages, Swagata Sen Pillai had over 20 years of dynamic work experience as a development sector professional.

Notes to Myself / Episode 1 / Season 1 / Leela Samson / MOPA
Notes to Myself is one of MOPA's flagship projects - a series of interactive, expository documentaries that deconstructs the lives and creative processes of some of the most impactful professionals and organisations associated with South India's performing arts. Episode 1 of this series features Leela Samson.

ICY SIPPY- Sip Back Memories
Featuring Natyacharyas VP Dhananjayan & Shanta Dhananjayan

Panorama of Hope: Dance vs Pandemic
Presented by Sapphire Creations Dance Company
Meet France's 106-year-old pianist
Colette Maze began playing the piano when she was four years old to find in music the warmth absent in her strict upbringing. Today, at the age of 106, her playing still exudes great tenderness.

L'Orient: Search for the Real Lakmé
Artistic Director/Choreographer: Preeti Vasudevan / Composer: Kamala Sankaram

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