Monday, 27 February 2012
But we enjoy the assignment.
After all, KutcheriBuzz works hard at reportage.
That is why we took the Blogging route this year. Filed snappy reports, posted informal pictures and linked them up to the video and photo galleries.
Three made the team - Vincent D Souza, R Revathi and Mohan Das Vadakkara.
On Sunday morning, we went back to the Big Temple, took another look at this great edifice as thousands of visitors filed in and travelled back to our base in Chennai.
The reports, pictures and videos will remain upfront on www.kutcheribuzz.com for a month.
Enjoy them and get your friends to do the same.
P. S. : Natyanjali 2013 will start on March 10.
Sunday, 26 February 2012
Saturday, 25 February 2012
Friday, 24 February 2012
Thursday, 23 February 2012
familiar with this temple-Univ town but provide an opportunity to bring her students and offer anjali at the sannidhi of Lord Nataraja.
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state enjoyed some privilege during these times when power is in short supply.
Outside the city, the people and the industries suffer.
Power cuts run to two, sometimes three hours.
We got a feel of that situation in Chidambaram.
There are rusty, dirty generators outside halls, stores and large apartments.
But Thennarasu and his team makes sure the Natyanjali is well lit and has the best sound equipment.
Every year, Thennarasu improves his facility. This year he added two branded speakers.
He is also an integral part of the Fest.
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
At Chidambaram, he sang for Jaikishore and his wife and later, for Kalamandalam Vinodini's troupe from Calicut.
All of them are dance teachers. And they have a cause.
To discourage 'paid dancing' like 'paid news'.
And to encourage some standards in classical dance education.
Prayathnam was created by young dance gurus some years ago.
And it has come some way in its mission.
Recently, it released a form of syllabus for the teaching of dance. The task hasn't been easy what with lots of dance styles.
This Natyanjali season, the Prayathnam group got together, choreographed a production called 'Nadham Thall Vazhga' and did the circuit.
On Monday, they stopped at Kumbakonam for their turn but when it was delayed, rushed to Thanjavur, performed there, rushed back to Kumbakonam and made sure they did the anjali.
On Tuesday, they repeated the show at Chidambaram.
The group had Athena Madhu, Divyasena, Gopinath, Jayanthi Sundar, Lavanya Vikram, Malavika, Prema Lakshmi, Rajeswari, Saikripa Prasanna, Sasirekar Ram Mohan, Sreelatha Vinod and Thangameenakshi.
For these dance teachers. travelling in a tourist van and doing the Natyanjali circuit must be a different experience.
For many years, Kuchipudi guru Jaikishore Mosalikanti has been seen in the corner. A sishya of the great Vempati Chinnasatyam, he is a guru, choreographer and nattuvanar.
But for some time, dance colleagues like Neena Prasad, the Mohiniattam dancer and his wife, Padmavani have been telling Jai that he needs to perform.
Perform on stage if he is to gain better recognition.
The suggestion went home and Jai partners his wife and the duo have been getting invites for Kuchipudi recitals.
"Doing nattuvangam and choreographing for others brings money for middle class artistes like us but we don't have the money to pay to perform," he says candidly as he enjoys a banana backstage at Chidambaram, a hour before his recital.
The couple ( seen in the first photo here) have had it good in their new avatar as dancers. And Jai is keen that we watch their Natyanjali performance. By the looks of it, he seems fired.
This year, Jai will also present - Pranamya Suri from Dallas, USA ( seen in second photo here).
Suri who is about to get into medical school has taken a break to learn more of Kuchipudi, spending 5 months in Chennai and also bagging a few recitals.
Suri's mom is a well known Kuchipudi guru ( a sishya of Shobha Naidu) and runs her school in Dallas. The studio here provides for her training when Jai is in the USA - he will be there this summer.
On Tuesday though, Jaikishore, his wife whom he calls Vani and the sishya from USA want to experience Lord Nataraja's presence.
There are though these are places where kids learn the art and their middle class parents get really excited to see their wards in the dance costumes.
But being on the Natyanjali dance stage is bigtime.
They have their space and rightly so.
The recital this Tuesday, the second evening of the fest has students of Thillai Sri Sivakami Nattiyalaya on stage.
The singing did disturb ears used to good music. But it doesn't matter.
This is an anjali and there is space for everybody.
Nandini Ramani was the 'Natyanjali writer' for The Hindu for a long time. A time when she wrote on dance for this newspaper and was also in The Music Academy team.
The course changed some years ago.
The Hindu's arts page didn't even have a curtain raiser on the Natyanjali.
This evening, Nandini brings a special varnam to the stage with 7 senior dancers.
Sushama Ranganathan, Nandini's daughter and a dancer in this production says that they have been practicing this varnam since January. They presented it at a show in Chennai. Sushama says it was full house.
"All the dancers here are busy with their own work so we have had to find time to practise," says Sushama.
Priyadarshini Govind, Braga Bessel, Srekala Bharat, Sailaja, Manjari and Sushama make the team of dancers.
Monday, 20 February 2012
Prashnath Shastry and Sunitha Prashanth from Bangalore are a couple who have been dancing for a decade.
With them here were Suma on the nattuvangam and Suma's daughter Lavanya on vocals.
Suma says she has encouraged her daughter, who is a concert vocalist to also sing for dance in order to experience the experience and range of music though singing for concert and for dance is entirely different.
He was in Thanjavur, read about the dance fest here and dashed down. So the organizers invited him on stage and honored him.
Alastair, who once worked for the Financial Times in London says he is touring India to write on dance and on temple sculpture.
"It's part leisure part work," he says backstage, clutching his ponnadai.
When he gets back home Alastair will write two long pieces and blog on his tour.
The man who was part of the team which launched this dance fest inside the temple makes it a point to be here at the inaugural.
He steered the fest for over 15 years and then let a new team take over.
Today, he sits at his deal at his home in Besant Nagar, south Chennai and churns out books even at this age.
He released a book in connection with the celebration of 1000 years of Sri Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur.
It is on the best of Chola Art and Nagaswamy says the pictures in it are the best, shot by a collaborator in less than 3 days.
The book is on sale. You can call him at 98141447360.
Nagaswamy is now working on a book on Sanskrit and Thamizh and the connections between the two.
He has been starring at many arts events back in Chennai.
Former DGP of Tamil Nadu, Natarajan is also a special guest.
As is the local district collector and the entire Natyanjali Trust team, the group which runs this fest.
Sambandam, secretary says that over 70 performances are scheduled this year, 40 of which are solo recitals.
The Trustees work closely with a team of the Deekshitars.
Every evening, a senior priest is invited on stage to say a few words.
Two others who have always been great supporters are Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) and the Annamalai University. Their reps are also on stage.
The best local regional dance groups - Chidambaram, Neyveli, Cuddalore and Pondy.
And students of the Dept of Fine Arts at Annamalai University.
The varsity artistes bring with them their little group of fans.
Sadly, the fans leave the moment the recital of their Univ friends.
You shouldn't be surprised if you a van-load of teenagers spilling out on East Street and weaving their way to the stage.
As the nagaswarm closed the opening act of Day One of the Natyanjali to launch the 2012 edition of the dance fest, the troupe of Abhirami Natyalaya was more than just dancers.
Their props were loadsful.
Guru Parimala Venkataraman from Coimbatore brought a hour-long production on Lord Siva.
But squeezing it into 30minutes and then running off to Pandanallur for their second performance on Sivaratri night was a maddening task.
Backstage dancer and makeup artist Sasikumar struggled with masks, hairdos and jewelry to make sure the show went on.
"The music keeps rolling but we are struggling," he says.
And yet, the school and college students were up to the task.
Starts at 10.10 pm ( Feb 20) withj a varnam which has been conceptualised and executed by Nandini Ramani.
It features Priyadarshini Govind, Braga Beseel, Srekala Bharat, Sailaja, Manjari Rajendrakumar and Sushama Ranganathan.
At 10.35 Dr C V Chandrasekar presents a Shiva Astapadi and at 11 pm Dr Neena Prasad and her team from Thiruvananthapuram will perform Mohiniattam.
DD will telecast these three recitals on the Podhigai and the DD Bharathi channels. They go out live.
A chatram serves as the dining space. It also doubles up as rehearsal space.
On Monday afternoon, students of Abhirami Natyalaya, Coimbatore warm up before lunch.
This group will present a ballet later this evening. 25 of them on stage.
The dining hall is packed. Today, the sapad ends with payasam.
Vageesan and his team serve well - they have been the asthana samayal team of Chidambaram Natyanjali!
Titus and his wife from Holland are inside the Nataraja Temple and we invite them to the dances this evening.
The couple from Holland are on their 12th annual tour of India and have long connections at Auroville, near Pondicherry.
Elsewhere, on a busy street vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan waves to us as a Deekshitar ferries him to a hotel near the temple. A small local group often hosts a 24-hour long series of kutcheris on the south side of the temple.
A seller of tender coconuts and a flower seller.
Both are familiar faces of the many we see and greet at the Natyanjali.
And at the sannidhi zone inside the temple, besides the huge crowd of devotees readying for the 10 a.m. abhishekam, are groups of dancers of ages, excited to offer their prayer to the Lord.
A group from Salem goes through the anjali even as Deekshitars and pilgrims walk past or pause.
Chennai-based dancer Nartaki Nataraj comes by too. She does a padam to the singing of K P Nandini who has been performing for Nartaki for some time now.
Nartaki will be dancing here on stage at about 11.30 tonight to a thevaram.
Sunday, 19 February 2012
Our base for the next five days is Hotel Arudra.
This is a very convenient perch - it is just outside the eastern gopuram of the temple.
Also, the BSNL team at Chidambaram, used now to our requests and needs find it easy to fix our broadband connection.
The line of pilgrims visiting the great temple wanes as we check out the outer yard of the temple, on its eastern side.
Giant plaster-of-paris and fibre glass models of temple pillars, modeled on those you will find in any vintage temple are being placed on the stage.
They look impressive even in the scarce light. On Monday, when this stage comes alive the props on the stage will possibly impress the artistes and the audience.
The Natyanjali Trust team has always tried to give this fest a special despite handicaps and limitations.
It needs to - after all, it is the mother of the Natyanjalis!
It is 10 pm and the town is shutting down. Dramatic changes greet us every year. A new hotel, swank in the exterior has come up on East Car Street. Grand Park.
Rooms start at Rs.1500.
(If you need a luxurious room in Chidambaram call 04144-225859).
Our favorite 'mess' on this road is about to close - we have a quick tiffin, meet a doc from Mumbai who loves south Indian food and warns me about my central obesity and call it a day!
Saturday, 18 February 2012
Thursday, 16 February 2012
These are the dates for the Natyanjali Dance Fest at the Sri Adikumbeswarar Temple in Kumbakonam.
The local team headed by G R Moopanar is hosting the fest.
Actor-dancer Shobana will perform soon after the inauguration at about 7.15 pm.
This year though she will take a break.
Three deaths in the larger family of this dancer have slowed things down at Padma's home in Chennai.
She and her team have been instrumental in hosting the Sivaratri dances at Nagapattinam, Thirunallar and Mayavaram.
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Most places are on the pilgrim circuit map and getting a room is not all that easy.
Thanjavur now has a variety of hotels but the new ones price their rooms above Rs.1500 plus tax.
Chidambaram has limited offers. The Arudra Hotel ( 04144-221930 ) is just outside the eastern gopuram and a quiet, well maintained nook we like. Akshaya ( 04144-220191) and Sharadaram ( 04144 221336 ) are also good options.
We believe that a festival must have many sides to it if you want to pull rasikas and tourists.
Tamil Nadu Tourism does little than setting up a stall that issues free brochures. If its team was imaginative, it could offer some great tour packages that are two hours long.
Some years ago, we encouraged many dance teams to visit the mangroves of Pitchavaram, 10 kms from Chidambaram and some did make it and came back all excited.
Last week, we suggested to the Festival hosts in Chidambaram and Thanjavur that they host a Heritage Walk/Tour on one morning. A Tour that can take us to a few less known spaces in these towns where a guide who has intimate stories to share would keep us excited.
We hope this happens!
We have been doing this for about 6 years now and though the ' Bo shambo! ' anthem keeps ringing disturbingly in our ears year after year, we never get bored when we are there.
Often, you get to meet interesting artistes. You get to listen to interesting stories. And this great temple always has secrets to open to you if only you care to slow down and look deep.
Ever since Prem from ChennaiStream became part of our team, the coverage has been enlarged. We also web streamed recitals despite the fact that 2G / broadband is not good enough to do stream videos.
Prem will not be with us this Fest - he is taking care of his Dad who is recuperating from an illness and we will miss Prem.
But we will have R. Revathi with us. Revathi has pulled in all the tech utilities to provide us the capacity to broadbase the coverage. Via Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Picasa and more.
And, we are inviting all of you - artistes, rasikas and tourists - to join us in this community-driven coverage of the Natyanjali.