Interesting News – Lectures to Interviews to Chairs!


Some interesting news I read recently.

Prof. Nagaswamy, talk about Ilango Adigal’s Silapadhikaram and Natyashastra was held at Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam’s Nrityodaya [1]. His talk concentrated on how Natyashastra and dance drama had caught the imaginations of writers, scholars and laymen.

Dr. Nagaswamy’s talk was not aimed at denigrating the value or magnificence of Tamil language, the greatness of Silappadikaram or its author Ilango Adigal but to only illustrate how in the earlier days people were generous to accept information and ideas irrespective of its source and also the healthy interaction between people of different regions. Silappadikaram, one of the five great Tamil epics, according to him, is a creative work and not history. (Emphasis added)

There has been a discussion that spanned few weeks in The Hindu about Dance music and musicians. It started with dancer Yamini Krishnamurthy’s interview [2], where she had emphasized on the rapport between musicians and dancers, and how she finds emptiness to recorded music for dance performances

‘Some singers knew my thought process,’ reminisces the dancer about her heyday when she was used to a regular orchestra ready to practise and create new works with her on a regular basis. ‘That kind of orchestra is very good — you will have freshness in your abhinaya. (For that) they have to be with me and understand the vibrations of my mind.’

The CD leads me. I may dance to it a few times but I get bored. On stage I lead the orchestra…It’s my own problem. I’m not saying the CD is not important for the younger generation.

Following this was an article written by dancer Swapnasundari [3], where she has tried to explain that the problem lies else where, and why the rasanubhooti is not seen these days in a performance.

Most dancers perform pre-choreographed pieces in exactly the same way on any number of occasions, and hence they instruct the accompanists to repeat the music score in the same manner. This curbs the natural enthusiasm of musicians to improvise while providing accompaniment. Many dancers do not understand the lyrics of the song they are dancing to and hence cannot guide the singer in enunciating the words correctly, resulting in the atrocious mispronunciations one hears frequently in dance concerts. There are innumerable dancers who recite jatis by rote but do not take the trouble of correcting points where they stray away from tala. Some dancers get away by masking their inherent shortcomings with superficial presentational aspects. In short, some basic essentials in artistic standards are not met.

Hmmm, to be fair, let’s hear from the musicians themselves [4]. Vocalist and nattuvanar G. Elangovan says

Singing for dance is a challenging task as one needs to be well-versed in the musical compositions presented as well as sensitive and receptive to the mood and mental frame of the dancer…While recording music for dance, I have experienced that whenever we do a ‘click recording’, in which the rhythm is perfectly maintained by an electronic meter, the dancer invariably feels that ‘something’ is missing, even if the overall impact of the recording is great. I believe it is the nadai of the dancer which is missing, something that is unique to each individual and which is the beginning of the dance.

Vocalist Sudha Raghuraman also emphasizes that the bhava should come out in the music.

One must remember that singing for dance is not merely singing (lines) a number of times in any item. There is so much more to it. Every song in a margam has a different feel, moods, lyrics, musicality. Most importantly, every item has its own pace.

While this is an interesting topic by itself. Dancer Vyjayanthimala Bali released a new book “Tanjai Nalvarin Adi Sangita Bharata Kala Manjari” that documents the compositions of the Tanjore Quartet. [5]

some of the beautiful pieces have been revived and compiled by Chinniah Sivakumar, son of Sivanandam. The new publication contains some valuable and rare compositions including jatiswarams, tana varnams, pada varnams and thillana. This will be an invaluable work of art, which brings alive the rich and glorious traditional compositions of ancient times

And then it was refreshing to read about the reach of classical dance in Sadda Punjab! Dancer Dimple Kaur talks about her travails. [6] Click here for her interview.

Relatively few people from the Sikh community are known nationally or internationally as exponents of the dance forms of South India — though youngsters raised in states of the region do take them up…She says, having ‘Kaur’ in her name meant people sometimes assumed she could not be very good at an art that had its roots in South India.

If all this made you sit up and think, try doing that on a Bharatanatyam Chair! Yes, you read it right. A Bharatanatyam Chair. Designer Asad Firdosy based in Nagpur, describes it in his own words.

The Bharatnatyam Chair focuses on the attire of a Bharatnatyam dancer in a particular pose. The fans and pleats form a very strong element of design, but comfort and support are also kept in mind.

Wanna see it? Here you go! I am amazed at the creativity. Thanks to Mr. Asad Firdosy for sharing the images with us. Here is the link to his Facebook page.

Click on image to see full-size.

Bharatanatyam Chair.
Design by Mr. Asad Firdosy. Images reproduced with permission.

Until next time, Adios Amigos! 😀



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