Soumya Tilak identified some interesting articles from Narthaki. Reading them is sure to make one think about a lot of associated issues.
This post deals with the article titled “Dance writing “ by Lalitha Venkat, Chennai. Narthaki.com conducted a week long dance writing workshop in July 2009. While speaking at this workshop conducted at the dance department of the MGR Janaki College, Leela Venkatraman who has now been into dance writing for around 4 decades discusses a few points that are aimed at helping upcoming dance writers find a right voice. The article can be found at http://www.narthaki.com/info/articles/art254.html
Leela also discusses about reviewing art that potrays / is inspired from one’s personal tragedy/experience. She talks of a creation by Canada based Bharathanatyam dancer and choreographer Lata Pada, who lost her husband and two daughters to the 1985 terrorist bombing of Air India flight Kanishka.
“Revealed by fire” according to Samparadaya’s website, (Lata’s dance company) is described as follows “A contemporary multimedia dance work featuring the story of a woman’s journey of tragedy and transformation, Revealed by Fire charts Lata Pada’s rediscovery of individual power and voice following the loss of her husband and two daughters to a terrorist bombing. Ms. Pada and renowned visual designer Cylla von Tiedemann forge new frontiers for dance and moving images. It’s regarded by leading critic Michael Crabb as “the most important Canadian dance production of 2001”.
“Dancer Lata Pada’s guru objected to her ‘Revealed by Fire’ being a personal trauma put on stage. Watching shows evolved out of personal experiences, some comment that it amounts to self indulgence and they did not come to see a highlighting of someone’s personal tragedy. While some identify many elements from a work as reflected in their own lives, others feel the artiste is trying to project herself as a tragedy queen. If a dancer brings in elements like Sita and tries to find a parallel, it would give the implication of trying to find legitimacy for the work.” Leela Venkatraman recalls.
Here is an excerpt of the production from the You Tube
There are also other themes which elicit strong emotions in the viewers.
For eg. Here is a Video excerpt of a production titled “Play ball” by London based Nina Rajarani’s Srishti Dance Company.
It is in fact quite common for art from other cultures to be shaped by the artist’s experience, environment and emotions. Is Bharathanatyam accepted to be a vehicle of self expression by all quarters? Bharathanatyam has moved out of its portals, so isnt it inevitable that it will mutate ? The issue is not only about the physical aspects of choreography abiding to what is technically admissible within a Bharathanatyam format; it is also about those themes that are considered as befitting the art form. While the “purists” are worried about maintain the integrity of the art form, a few practitioners and connoisseurs are worried about maintaining or expanding the audience base. But more importantly there is also a section of the audience out there that is happy when the line between Bharathanatyam and Bollywood becomes thin enough to let them relate to what is being presented.
Bharathanatyam today encompasses a wide variety of presentations. So, it suggests there does exist, a market for all kinds of Bharathanatyam. It is upto us to pick and choose what we are looking for, and we will learn to fit our wants with practice. There’s no point cribbing about the show we attended over the weekend. There are others who liked the same. So give the artiste a miss the next time, try somewhere else!