Classical Dance in Changing Times: Seminar 2004
1 August 2004, Ravindra Kalakshetra, J. C. Road, Bangalore.
“We aim at enhancing and enriching lives by disseminating knowledge on music, dance and the visual arts. In this seminar, it is the content in Indian classical dance that we wanted to look into – its significance in the past and its significance to the dancer and audience of today.”
Vijaylakshmi Vijay Kumar – Secretary, Heritage
Inaugurated at 9 am by His Holiness Swami Shri Dayananda Saraswati of the Arsha Vaidya Gurukulam, the day-long seminar had eminent dancers, gurus and scholars expressing their views on the theme Classical Dance in Changing Times. It was the first of its kind in Bangalore in recent years.
Dancers, dance teachers and art lovers from all over Bangalore were present. Ravindra Kalakshetra had a festive look. The organising team was inspired by the mayilkan dhoti with a maroon and green border. Right from the brochure to the stage decor and even the dresses that the organisers were clad in – all were based on the dhoti colours.
The Chairperson of the Sangeeth Natak Academy, New Delhi, Padma Vibhushan Smt. Sonal Mansingh, delivered the keynote address. Elaborationg on the essence of what dance meant to her, she remarked, “You observe life, you ingest it, digest it and internalize it and a transformation happens within you. When that transformation is reflected in your dance you tie an audience who have gathered from different backgrounds in a bond for a few hours and transport them to a sathvik world beyond the reach of everyday life. Transporting people from the mundane world to a world of mystique and magic is the power of a dancer.”
Session I: Significance of Content in Dance
Significance of content in performing art in the past and present
Addressing the topic, Sri Kavalam Narayana Pannikkar, Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Kerala, said, “Even if tradition comes in the way of innovative genius, the conflict thereby created will contribute energy for evolution. An artist need not experience by emotional and imaginative involvement. In this process the personal turns out to be the universal. In this creative process the artist is true to himself, only because his basic commitment to society is taken for granted. So he need not have an audience different from himself, as is the god of dance, Natraja who is a swayam prekshaka“.
Significance of content to the dancer today
Smt. Priyadarshini Govind, and internationally acclaimed dancer from Chennai emphasized the importance of keeping a Margam format through a Bharatanatyam recital for the simple reason that it allows the dancer the freedom to explore a gamut of topics and emotions. She was of the view that a dancer who presents a thematic recital is bound by the emotions of the limited characters of a thematic presentation. “Old varnams never die with overexposure, but mellow like fine wine” said the dancer who compared Margam, the traditional format of a Bharatanatyam recital with thematic dance.
Significance of the content of performing art to the audiences today
Smt. Minal Prabhu, Director, Mudrika Bangalore, said, “Younger dancers need conviction about what they perform to reach out to the audience. Ambition without dedication is short-lived.
Session II: The Change in Form and Format
Padmasri Dr. Padma Subramanyam, Director of Nrityodaya, Chennai, opened the session, speaking eloquently about why she named her style of dancing as Bharatanrithyam. “Some people called my style of dancing as Padma Natyam when they found my style of dancing which is based on the Natyashastra, to be different from Bharatanatyam. As I evolved as a dancer following Bharata’s Natyashastra, and in my research on karanas discovered that dance is a universal language and regional forms evolved from regional influences, I had to change the nomenclature of my dancing too.” She also announced that Tamil Nadu would soon have a temple for Bharata Muni and invited dancers to pay their respect there.
Ms. Surupa Sen, Artistic Director, the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, took a historical view of the Odissi form of dancing. According to her this form of dance is not yet established in its format. It is still evolving. Dancers of the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble demonstrated the adavus in Odissi passed on by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and showed how the Nrityagram faculty has changed them to enhance the aesthetics of the dance form. As always Bijoyini entranced the audience – though it was a recital of just four minutes.
Smt. Vyjayanthi Kashi, Artistic Director, Shambavi School of Dance, Bangalore, threw light on the Kuchipudi style of dance and its evolution from a dramatic dance form to a more sublime art today, including insightful comments on the change of Vachika and Aharya in Kuchipudi today. She spoke about the transformation that has happened over the years in Yakshagana, Kalapams and the solos in Kuchipudi.
Smt. Maya Rao, Director of the Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography, Bangalore said that different repertoires have developed in the Kathak form of dance over a period of time depending on the rulers and invasions in Indian history, emphasizing different techniques of entries and exits. Kathak still maintains all the changed formats as different gharanas like the Jaipur Gharana or the Lucknow Gharana. Dancers of the Natya Institute presented a few dance items in Kathak style.
Session III: Changing Role of Classical Dance
Padmasri Smt. Chitra Visveswaran, from the Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts, Chennai, presented a paper on the “Traditional role of classical dance”. She said that the meaning of the word ‘traditional’ itself is ever-changing. Tradition is something that is practised over a period of time, blending in with societal norms but also adapting itself to the present societal influences; so is dance.
Smt. Gowri Ramnarayan, art journalist, The Hindu, Chennai, concluded this session addressing the issue of dwindling audiences for classical dance. “Look out for new venues”, she said, “When we talk of audiences, we only think of closed air-conditioned auditoriums. Why not move to outdoor spaces? Temples, parks, schools, colleges and several other open-air public spaces can be used.” Talking about dance music, she said, “Earlier we had musicians whose singing was bhava-laden, complementing the dancer as she performed. Today we have vocalists who look at the paper and hardly watch the dancer.” “On the part of the dancer, mechanical portrayals of stories have come to stay, without a deeper understanding,” she felt.
Surprising the Bangalore audience were gurus Kalanidhi Narayanan and Padma Subramanyam, who sang for each other and performed a padam.
An hour’s panel discussion had several questions by the audience. The speakers shared their ideas on the various topics discussed.
Though very enlightening, it was a long, exhausting day with many speakers, viewpoints and discussions.
A fitting finale to the enlightening day was the dance recital presented by Kumari Rukmini Vijay Kumar. A young, energetic, talented, dedicated Bharatanatyam dancer, and the disciple of Guru Smt. Narmada, Rukmini presented a finely choreographed piece titled Rukmini. The presentation, innovative in its nritta and abhinaya sections, lent itself aptly to the theme of the seminar “Classical Dance in Changing Times.”
Vidwan Sri. Kadri Gopalnath Felicitated
Ananya, a well known cultural organization of Bangalore working for promotion of music, organized a special programme on 8 August to felicitate saxophone maestro, Vidwan Sri. Kadri Gopalnath who was recently honoured with the Padmashri and Kendra Sangeetha-Nritya Academy awards.
Dr. U.R. Ananthamurthy, noted Jnanpith award winner and Chairman of Ananya, presided over the event.
The felicitation programme was followed by a violin recital by Kalaimamani Vid. Kanyakumari who was supported by Sri Nishanth, Vid. Arjun Kumar and Vid. Amrith accompanied them on the mridangam and khanjari respectively.
AKKA WKC 2004
Srigandha Kannada Koota of Florida hosted with 2004 AKKA World Kannada Conference in Orlando, Florida, September 3-5, 2004.
In the midst of cancelled flights, hurricane warnings and mass evacuations, it was officially inaugurated by the Honorable Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, Sri Siddaramaiah. Over 1200 people registered for the conference were able to attend.
Photos can be seen at http://www.akkaonline.org/2004/sep04-photogallery.html
Sri B. V. K. Shastry Memorial Symposium
Sri B. V. K. Shastry memorial committee in collaboration with Bangalore Gayana Samaja and Karnataka Nrityakala Parishath conducted the Sri B. V. K. Shastry Memorial endowment annual symposium on the topic Abhinaya in Pada and Jawadi on 15 September 2004 at Bangalore Gayana Samaja.
Difference between pada and jawadi were discussed, but the differences made were not very clear to the audience.
Smt. Nagamani Srinath, well-known Carnatic musician of Bangalore, rendered a few compositions of pada and jawadi. She was of the view that singing padams and jawadis test the caliber of a musician.
Danseuse Lakshmi Gopalswamy rendered few compositions of pada and jawadi aesthetically.
Smt. Chitra Visweshwaran, a renowned danseuse from Chennai, said that she never enjoyed preforming padams and jawadi when she was young for she did not understand the concept but now she thoroughly enjoys performing abhinaya items. She mentioned Javali as it is called now originated from the word jawadi in Kannada. She also spoke about Kshetreyya’s and Sarangapani’s contribution to padams.
Nritarutya, a contemporary dance group of Bangalore presented Prayog, an attempt by the group to showcase their potential choosing various themes.
The evening had five sequences, each unique in its presentation.
The first sequence was Earth – a glimpse into the lives of the earth-bound, the second sequence was Foot-Notes – a folksy piece in a contemporary format, the third sequence was Ardhanareeshwara – two elements united to complete Shakti, the fourth sequence, What do puppets do? questioned the thin line between illusion and reality and the fifth sequence, Between Lines – usage of ropes, defying gravity was the highlight of the sequence.
Each piece was choreographed by different artists of the group. Each choreographer spoke about the concept which was projected on the screen.
Reflections… on dance, a booklet on the opinions of exponents and authorities on dance was also presented on that day.
The dancers of Nritarutya who performed were Mayuri Upadhya, Madhuri Upadhya, Harini B C, Sathya B G, Geetha Ballal and Umesh Naidu. Music was by Raghupathy Dixit.
Chowdaiah Hall was jam-packed for the show. Prayog is certainly a good beginning for the group, but they need to work hard to go a long way.
Nritarutya: Tel: 080-57616295, 22484029
Krupa Rajul Shah, daughter of Mr. Rajul A Shah and Mrs. Jyoti R Shah, is studying in Frank Anthony Public School in class eight.
Krupa has been learning Bharatanatyam from the age of six, under the able guidance of her Guru. Smt. Revathi Narsimhan Director, Natya Nikethan, Bangalore.
She is learning this art with great dedication and putting, on greater effort to learn the intricacies of this art. In spite of coming from a Gujarathi family, she has taken this art to her heart.
She has passed her junior examination conducted by The Karnataka State Secondary Examination Board, meritoriously, and is pursuing her senior dance. She has performed many solo and group programmes, under “Shivakami” troupe of her dance school. She has also participated in several competitions and won prizes. She had an opportunity to perform in ETV Kannada Channel, under “Chigaru Programme”.
Along with her dance career, Krupa is very good in her academics and a good athlete too. She was the games captain for the junior level. She has won many prizes and laurels for herself.
With all this interests, she is also learning western and fusion dances, and she is under going the training conducted by Shiamak Davar, the famous choreographer of Hindi film industry, under his guidance, she has performed in many shows in and around Bangalore.
Krupa presents her “Aragetram” on 7th November 2004 at 6.15pm at Sri Satya Sai Samskruti Sadanam Next to Prestige Acropolis, Hosur Road, Bangalore.