Performance by Kalakshetra Chennai at ISKCON festival, Bangalore

A 45-member troupe, from Kalakshetra Foundation of Chennai consisting of senior dancers under the stewardship of its director Leela Samson, presented a series of dance-dramas at Krishna Shrungar, a dance festival hosted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Bangalore. The six-day dance festival had episodes from Srimad Bhagavatham including Rukmini Kalyanam, Bhakta Jayadeva, Andaal Sarithram, Kurmaavataram, KucheLopakhyanam, and Dasaru Kanda Krishna.

Choreographed by the late Rukmini Devi Arundale, each episode of two hours duration, had music composed by eminent musicians of yeseryears such as Mysore Vasudevacharya and Papanasam Sivan. The presentation was critically acclaimed for the music, impeccable production and its attention to detail in choreography.

As a premier show on the last day of the festival, for the first time, Kalakshetra presented Dasaru Kanda Krishna, a unique dance-drama eulogizing Krishna from the perspective of Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa, the devout composers from Karnataka. The former director of Kalakshetra, S. Rajaram was the music director for this episode, which was dramatized with the choicest of 12 songs composed by these great lyricists. The Sringara bhava of Krishna and the Gopis, Vatsalya bhava of Yashoda and Krishna, the Sakhya bhava of Krishna and Sudama, the Madhura bhakti of the Gopis were beautifully rendered taking compositions such as “Epariya sobagu”, “Gopia Bhagyavidu”, “Jagadhodharana” and “Yadavaraya”. It was a treat to watch about 18 dancers perform for different songs; it was also a rare opportunity to watch about 8 male dancers at a time performing a group dance with perfect synchronization.

Jalsa – Classical Ideas in Harmony

Jalsa – Classical Ideas in Harmony – was presented by Indian Music Academy which brought together two amazing talents, veteran musician Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj (Hindustan vocal) and celebrated young musician Shashank (Carnatic flute).

Shashanks redition of flute from the initial kriti of Tyagaraja (Manasuloni) to the outstanding revelation of ragam, tanam, pallavi in Raga Kalyani, transcended the audience to another world. The one thousand-odd audience experienced soulful raga bhava, sober alapana, vibrant tanam and interesting dialogues between the flute and the accompanying mridangam in the hands of Satish Kumar. Shashank concluded with the Purandaradasa kritiJagadodharana — it was music that soothes the mind, body and soul.

Pandit Jasraj, the doyen of the Mewati gharana, next took to the stage to a warm welcome from the Bangalore audience who were anxiously waiting to listen to the veteran. He commenced with Raag Puriyakalyan, with Meretho Giridhara. Even at his age, he can play with his voice, with mastery over every aspect, be it briga, a rapid taan, and all the vocal razzmatazz. Bhajans were sung with his extraordinary musicianship. Balamukund Shloka Kararavindena was rendered with the flow of overwhelming swaras. In an astounding display of breath control, he stood on a single note for so long — it was something to cherish forever. While he sang his popular song Om namobhagavate Vasudeva, the audience was transported into Bhakti Loka. Ably accompanied by Kedar Pandit on the tabla, Mukund Petkar on the harmonium; his student gave vocal support that was a pleasure to hear.

The Indian Music Academy is a body of musicians of all genres coming together for the first time, primarily for achieving the objective of spreading and popularizing Indian music around the globe. Its venture into 12 city concerts called Jalsa wherein one maestro and one younger musician perform began on 27 May 06 in Hyderabad with Dr. L. Subramaniam and Sanjeev Abhayankar; the Bangalore Jalsa was the second conert.

For there to be Sanjog (union) there has to be Viyog (separation)!

Madhu Natraj presented Sanjog, a Kathak recital. Sanjog means union – union of the body, the soul, of rhythm, of melody and Madhu’s performance displayed her involvement in the dance numbers presented. Inspired by the love lyrics and writings of Jayadeva, Amir Khusrau, Surdas, Bindadin Maharaj Masti Venkatesh Iyyengar and Ramadhari Singh ‘Dinkar’, Madhu’s performance truly explored the concept of union. The sheer grace, subtle movements and stage presence of Madhu made the performance enjoyable.

The dance performance was choreographed by Dr. Maya Rao and Madhu Nataraj, music design and direction was by Sri Shankar Shanbhogue. The program was finely supported by Shankar Shanbhogue on vocal; Shruti Kamath on sitar, Rajesh on flute and Ajay Kumar Singh on tabla.

38th Annual Music Conference of the Bangalore Gayana Samaja

The conference was inaugurated by I. M. Vittala Murthy, Secretary to Govt. of Karnataka, Kannada and Culture, Information and Tourism. Senior vocalist Madurai T. N. Seshagopalan, President of the 37th Music Conference formally proposed the name of Mysore V. Subramanya, senior reviewer of fine arts and musicologist, as President of the 38th Music Conference.

In commemoration of Suvarna Karnataka (fifty years of formation of the State of Karnataka), the theme of the conference was Karnatakada Vaaggeya Vaibhava (Splendour of Compositions of Karnataka Composers). Evening programmes by eminent artists were held daily from 13 Aug. for eight days.

Madurai T. N. Seshagopalan released Gurukulai, the first set of DVDs of vocalist Dr. Nagamani Srinath presenting Carnatic music lessons, in the traditional gurukula system, an audio-visual presentation with English notation and theory. The ambitious project envisages 100 to 150 DVDs containing introduction along with all elementary lessons, slokas, varnas, keerthanas, thillanas, padas, manodharma sangeetha (raga, alapana, swarakalpana, neraval, tanam, pallavi), musicology and lec-dems. Prizes were distributed to winners in music competitions.

Sadas, the valedictory session of the conference on 20 Aug. H.H. Sri Sri Vishvesha Thirtha Swamiji of Pejawar Mutt graced the occasion. Justice B. N. Srikrishna, former judge of Supreme Court of India was the Chief Guest. The artists, connoisseurs, students and teachers of music, who had participated in experts sessions and evening concerts throughout the week-long conference filled the auditorium to witness the grand finale.

Swamiji conferred the title Sangeetha Kalaratna on Mysore V. Subramanya. A gold medal under endowment by Smt. Brahmaramba Nagaraja Rao was also presented. Speaking on behalf of the Artists of the Year honoured, S. Rajaram appreciated the exemplary services of Gayana Samaja in promoting all forms of fine arts and thanked the Samaja for the recognition of the contribution by each one of them.

Samanvay Art Festival

Sri Rajarajeshwari Kala Niketan and Academy of Music conducted the Samanvay Art Festival, a grand evening of music and dance in celebration of the 25 years of the institute ably run by Kuchipudi exponent Veena Murthy Vijay.

The organization put up a great show by bringing together fine music and dance talent and also honoring Guru Dr. Maya Rao and Ubhayagana Vidushi Shyamala G Bhave for their invaluable contributions in their respective fields. The occasion was graced by His Excellency, Hon. Governor of Karnataka T.N. Chaturvedi, I.M. Vittal Murthy, Secretary, Kannada and Culture, Tourism and Information, and P.N. Balakrishna Rao, CEO, Manipal Motors were the guests of honor. With more than a thousand in the audience, the festival was a grand success.

In their veena recital, Dr. Suma Sudhindra and group experimented with ragas in Carnatic and film music — a new experience for the audience who enjoyed film music with the flavor of Carnatic music. Ganga Gowri Vilasam, a Kuchipudi Yakshagana, was presented by Dr. Sanjay Shantaram, Shama Sanjay, Anuradha Vikranth and Suryanarayan Rao. This dance-drama projected the fight between Ganga and Gowri for Lord Shiva and how the two come to terms with each other and decide to be with Shiva. With lot of humor and authentic dancing, this classical ballet was beautifully choreographed by Veena Murthy Vijay. Sathyanarayana Raju performed Bharatanatyam with prefection; Odissi by Uday Kumar Shetty and Sowmya Shetty was graceful.

International Dance Convention

In commemoration of 25 years of the dance institute run by Asha Gopal, Arathi Foundation for Arts and Cultural Education organised a 3-day convention showcasing multi-cultural dances ranging from classical Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Odissi to folk, Salsa, Flamenco, African-American and many more.

Odissi exponent Sonal Mansingh inaugurated the convention with her graceful performance. Bharatanatyam by dancer Priyadarshini Govind, Kathak ensemble Nadam, dance drama Samarpan and Ganga Gowri Vilasam by the graduate students of Arathi school were some of the performances featured. As part of the convention workshops in Salsa, Hip Hop, Ukranian Folk, Hindi Film Dance, yoga and martial arts were conducted.

Arathi school has played a significant role in expanding the multi-cultural horizon of Arizona and other places. Apart from teaching dance, Asha Gopal has been organizing workshops and conducting seminars by inviting leading dancers from India.

Shri Ganesh Vandana at 18th Pune Festival 2006

The Pune Festival has always presented the very best in the field of dance and music. “Shri Ganesh Vandana” by Meenakshi Seshadri (the well-known classical dancer/actress) and troupe was a lyrical presentation of Asha Bhonsle’s “Ganesh Asha” (a Times Music presentation) for which the music has been composed by Kedar Pandit.

Well-known dancer/choreographer Parimal Phadke’s visualisation created moving images of Ganesh Vandana. Meenakshi in an all-red costume livened up the stage with her Scintillating dance. The shishyas of Parimal Phadke were in golden costumes. The dancer and choreographer worked well on costumes for the performance and together they evoked visually arresting images on stage. The good use of the huge stage space was another bright spot in choreography of the young composer. Meenakshi brought to life the images of the Lord Ganesha in the forms of “Suvaradam,” “Sidhidam,” “Moreshvaram,” “Balallam,” “Murdham,” “Chintamani Sthevaram,” “Vinayakam,” “Girijatmakam,” “Vighneshvaram” and “Gananayak.”

(Pandithar Sivakumar Perumal who contributed this report has a passion for the arts and is a freelance writer.) Email:

2006 AKKA World Kannada Conference – Washington DC

Bringing Kannadigas together from all parts of America has been the aim of the Kaveri Kannada Association for many years now and this year the AKKA World Kannada Conference (WKC 2006) was held in a magnificent manner, AKKA stands for ‘Association of Kannada Kootas of America’. AKKA was born in February 1998, at the first World Kannada Sammelana-98 held in USA at Phoenix, Arizona. Kaveri is a sister organization, and AKKA, the collective family, For the thousands of Kannadigas who came together every year, it was like a great family re-union. Attended by more than 5000 guests, WKC 2006 symbolizes the love which Kannadigas have for their land of Karnataka and its language. Members from 37 Kannada associations spread all over the USA gathered to celebrate this grand event. It was a blend of enormous and varied talent brought together from Karnataka (some with the support of the Karnataka Government) and local talent from all over the USA.

Dr. Byrappa, Channaveera Kanavi, Bhavageethes from Pallavi, stand-up comedy from Dr. Puttu Rao, hilarious drama from various groups, dances and film-hits from S.P. Balasubramaniam were some of the performances enjoyed by one and all. Some of the other cultural programmes organized were: classical dance by Dr. Vasundhara Doraswamy, Lalitha Srinivasan, D. Keshava and Sheela Sridhar; fusion dance by Nrutanritya; Drama: Jokumara Swamy, Direction: Nagabharana, Troupe: Benaka; devotional music by VidyaBhushana; flute by the well-known Praveen Godkhindi, light music by M. D. Pallavi, Great food complemented the rich cultural fare.

Dance and Yoga in the Swiss Alps

The Swiss Alps resounded with the vibrations of Bharatanatyam and yoga, this summer of 2006. Held in a small village of Swiss Alps amidst woods and meadows, it was a beautiful retreat of Bharatanatyam and Iyengar’s Yoga. The week-long workshop starting from 10 July was a unique experience for many students who came from all over the world.

The workshop not only allowed the participants to extend and deepen their knowledge of dance but also to practice yoga postures aimed at supporting and strengthening the dancer’s body and mind.

Dance and yoga belong to the Indian cultural heritage and stem out the same source, twin siblings of Lord Siva Nataraja. As such, their practice complements each other, providing the dancer with powerful tools to understand the mechanisms of the body and the ways of the soul. Dance becomes a sandhana and yoga transforms into art.

Nirupama Rajendra, a versatile dancer/instructor and choreographer, conducted the Bharatanatyam classes, while Monica Kunz, a qualified Iyengar Yoga teacher who trained in Paris under Faeq Birla, conducted the yoga classes.

Vamshi Sandesha – A Flute Seminar

Vamshi Academy of Music Trust, Rajajinagar, Bangalore arranged a first-of-its-kind flute seminar called “Vamshi Sandesha” in association with Adarsha Academy, Malleswaram, Bangalore, under the Grant-in-aid from the Dept. of Culutre, Govt. of India. More than 80 young and veteran flautists and students of flute attended this unique seminar, inaugurated by veteran musicologist Mahamahopadyaya Dr. R. Satyanarayana. Among the distinguished guests were veteran vocalist A. Rajamma Keshavamurthy. Dr. R. Satyanarayana delivered the keynote address speaking about the development of different stages of the flute and special place of flute in music and dance including modern fusion music. He advocated that flautists should prefix Vamshika to their names just the way veena vidwans use Vainika.

Papers were presented by T.R. Srinath, Praveen Godkindi, S.A. Shashidar, Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal, Dwaraki Krishnaswamy, A.P. Sarvotham, Dr. H.S. Anasuya Kulkarni and B.M. Sundara Rao. The papers dealt with topics such as techniques of playing the flute, usage of flute in film music, the importance of flute in Indian dance, the different kinds of flutes in various countries and how flutes are made. In the evening, there was a flute concert of high order by B.K. Anantha Ram and Amith A. Nadig the only father-and-son flute-duo of Karnataka. They were supported by Charulatha on violin, V.S. Rajagopal on mridangam and Vyasa Vitalla on khanjira.

On the second day, there was a unique program Expressions in which many veteran and young flautists and students of flute took part in discussions on various issues pertaining to the flute. The idea was to bridge the gap between the young and old artists. In the valedictory function in the evening, vocalist R.S. Nandakumar gave a Nudi Chitrana, the summarized version of the topics covered on the two days. Then there was a good concert, Flute Trio, by young flautists L.V. Mukund, A. Chandana Kumar and Vamshidar. They had done their home-work very well as aligning three flutes to sruti is very difficult. They were accompanied by J.K. Sridhar (violin), B.K. Chandra Mouli (mridangam) and M. Gururaj (morsing). Six veteran flautists of Karnataka, B. Shankara Rao, M. S. Srinivasa Murthy, B. M. Sundara Rao, Raghavendra Rao, Dwaraki Krishna Swamy and Balakrishna Tantri were felicitated by bestowing the title “Vamshika” for the first time in the state.