Friday, 28 February 2014

Two sisters. Both doctors. And a jugalbandhi

Two sisters, both doctors were bathed in sweat and joy after they performed here late this evening.
They call themselves the Neelamana Sisters.
Dr Draupadi Praveen is a GP while her sister Dr Padmini Krishnan is a diabetologist, both based in Kerala.
The former is a Bharatanatyam dancer while the other is a Kuchipudi dancer and the duo have presented jugalbandhi recitals for some years now.
"We love to dance together but if we are invited for solos we accept it too," said the elder, Draupadi.
They were really overwhelmed to have danced inside the Lord Nataraja Temple though they had two other recitals on this circuit.

They hope they will be invited to perform at the Big Temple in Thanjavur.

Volunteering at 70!

Volunteering is what drives the dance festivals. Be it in Thanjavur, Kumbakonam or Chidambaram.
This afternoon, after a meal at the common dining hall in Chidambaram we got to meet veteran Vivekanandan who made his fortune managing the textiles retail store in this town. It is 70 years old.
In the last 10 years though this senior has let his MBA-educated son run the business and during the Natyanjali mans the hospitality desk.
He manages the stores, keeps an eye on the service and ensures stragglers do not slip in and have a big meal here!
He says he makes his own contribution to the expenses here - feeding over 300 people daily for 5 days.
And he taps his well wishers too. This week, he coaxed a granites dealer to foot the bill of drinking water supplies.

The fest needs people like Viveknanadan to keep the back room well managed.

Shama from Bangalore . . .

When dancer Shama Krishna performed Kuchipudi this evening it was a welcome change; the schedule is packed with Bharatanatyam dance!
But today will be different; and the Neelamana Sisters from Kerala promise a Bharatanatyam-Kuchipudi jugalbandhi.
This is Shama's first at the Chidambaram Natyanjali and though she is adept in Bharatanatyam, she chose the Andhra style this evening.
Shama says she teaches both styles at her dance school Shraddha located in Malleswaram North.
And she chose not to do the Natyanjali circuit this time because she has back to back shows in Bangalore.

One themed on five rivers and another curated by Vyjayanthi Kashi for Womens Day.

P. S. : Good to see lots of Bangalore-based dancers featured at the Natyanjali.

Meenakshi Chittarajan on stage

Meenakshi Chittaranjan on stage; with her sishyas; she also presented a solo piece

The kutties also get a slot

23 little dancers on stage in two pieces. It helps to host the local academies too.
Chinnamanur Chitra runs her Chitra Dance Academy here and is excited to present her wards.
We learn that there are a dozen academies in this temple town and the Natyanjali trustees had to follow a rotation policy in scheduling local talent.
Chitra's kutties have a house full audience on Day 2 as the clock approaches 8.

And they put their best step to map sure they make an impression. It is in some ways also a test of the guru's skills and makes a pitch too.

Chatting with Harikrishna Kalyanasundaram

You get to meet up with lots of artistes backstage at the fest.
Harikrishna Kalyanasundaram from Mumbai is here to present dancer Krishna Pranita.
And we get talking about the Mumbai season of music and dance - if there is on or something close to it.
Harikrishna says that Sri Ramanavami season is one such when temples in the Matunga/Chembur area and in the suburbs are hubs for concerts.
In November, there are a string of arts festivals.
Shanmukhananda also has its high profile season.

Could there be a season go three weeks when there or four arts bodies curate their own tests which also consist of talks/lec-dems and docu-films besides concerts to present the Mumbai Season?

Deepa from Brussels/Geneva!

So where is dancer Deepa Rajan from?
The Natyanjali brochure said Chennai.
She traces her roots to Kumbakonam, was in Bangalore and later in the USA and now shuttles between Brussels and Geneva.
She is a world person in that sense.
Deepa performed on Day 2 ( " I dance for the pleasure") with guru Minal Prabhu from Bangalore on the nattuvangam.
Work keeps her busy, says Deepa but when time permits she goes down to her basement to practice.
And in recent years, she has been curating the dance tours of a few Indian dancers.

"This can be a hit and miss affair but I am learning,"she says as we chat backstage after her recital, with her family folks hovering around her.

Day 2 opens . .

Day Two opens at 5.35. After the long, long Day One of Sivaratri.
Good to keep to time come what may.
And as is the tradition here, the opening recital is set for a local dance school - Sri Shivani Natyalaya.
The teens enjoy their 12minutes on stage even as their parents and well-wishers watch them and applaud.
It is a nice, sunny evening. We caught a spell of Ooty-like breeze this afternoon and hope the night is pleasant.

New dawn for a marathon series of dance

When the final dance recital of the Natyanjali Festival here on Day One ended the first rays of the sun could be seen in the east.
Only a regular supply of piping hotntea shared backstage kept the organizers and the emcees going till that fag end when many in the audience had curled up to sleep in the open and some nodded to the sound of the dancing feet and the naadha of the percussion.

Had it not been for the huge delay caused by one artiste, the day's schedule might have been over by  4 a.m. Delhi-based Navtej Singh Johar cried off following an illness but the schedule went for a toss.

Subsequently, dancer Nartaki Nataraj found that her vocalist was still far away from Chidambaram while rest of her accompanists were here. It need much persuasion to get these musicians to go on stage and play some fillers.

Padma keeps her date and time . . .

Padma Subrahmanyam kept her date at the festival.
And time too.

Save for a few years, Padma has been here all through the 33 years of the Natyanjali. She first performs on stage and then offers a prayer in dance at the sannidhi.

She preferred to perform two short pieces, letting niece Mahathi Kannan precede her. That done, the troupe led by veena artiste Kannan headed to the sannidhi.

Kannan said that while he had to send off the rest to Chennai since the kids have exams starting next week while he would go back to Nagapattinam to oversee the dance fest there.

Padma and her family have been instrumental in nurturing the dance festivals at Nagapattinam and now also co=ordinate the one at Thirunallar.

The long tani. On the other side . . .

Mridangam vidwan Thiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam presented a one hour tank. That was the main buzz that floated in from the south side of the temple tonight.

He was accompanying Sikkil Gurucharan at a concert which is part of the series for Sivaratri and managed by a group of Dikshitars here.

The evening series had begun with J B Keerthana and was to end with Jayalakshmi Sekar on the veena.

The ragtag stage does little for aesthetics but as the last flames of the sun lit the skies past 6 p.m. this natural backdrop, seen from afar was a sight.

The Sivaratri blitz!

The Day One attendance here was not full house and plus. The devoted headed to the temple past the late hour while many preferred to come back to watch the recitals.

The big cause of the depleted audience must be the steady fall of dew even in late February. Though the day temperature is rising - 29degrees is a guess - the chill sets in after 8 p.m. and the dew soon after.

Also, the Sivaratri programs put out on DD and private TV channels keeps people indoor. The Isha Foundation big time festival that Vijay TV telecast was promoted hugely in nooks and corners with banners and notices.

Remembering a veteran . . .

It was time to remember a veteran Natyanjali member - V S Ramalinga Pillai. He passed away at 95 about two months ago and was in the founding team of the Natyanjali when it took root here.
His son Natarajan V S is part of the current team.

The senior was remembered at the short, formal inauguration of the festival at about 7.45 p.m.

 Justice Ramasubramaniam, judge at Madras High Court  was the special guest, along with his wife. And dancers Padma Subrahmanyam and Geetha Chandran, member of Sangeet Natak Akademi and senior dancer who performed later in the night were honored.

The trustees keep the formal stuff short and swift. And have stuck to that style for ages.

Bad lines, slow postings . .

Reporting from the interior of a state can be frustrating - the Net lines can let you down any minute.
BSNL isn't reliable to provide you decent service.

And so we tear our hair, raise our brows, take many deep breaths and push a photo or a report or a tweet.

Day One of the Natyanjali was testing; so pardon us for the delayed postings here. We managed to keep the FaceBook page alive.

Hopefully, the lines get better after midnight and in the days ahead.

Natyanjali : day 1

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Stage is set at Chidambaram

In the partly-lit wedding hall located on the busy East Car Street in the temple town of Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu 20 young dancers sweat it out at a rehearsal on Thursday, February 27.
In the far end, in the kitchen local cook Vageeswaran is tasting the sambhar and rasam which will be served for lunch close to noon.
After that long workout, the young ones from Nritya Kala Niketan, Mumbai who are on their first tour of this area and will feature at the Natyanjali Dance Fest later on Sivaratri night, will enjoy the meal in the wedding hall's dining room.

Here in Chidambaram, the dance and the hospitality is what makes the festival a warm and special one. And, the opportunity to dance in front of Lord Nataraja in this great temple is a rare one.

We arrive here at about 11.30. A nice drive down the East Coat Road with small stops to refresh.
There is little in the town's centre to indicate that a major dance festival is about to begin in the famed temple.
The townsfolk are aware. But not the tourists; we spot lots of them, foreigners.

- Photo is of the Mumbai dancers at rehearsal.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Sri Lankans are here!

It is good to see the Sri Lankans do the Natyanjali circuit and they seem to be regulars now.

This year, Dhivya Sujen is traveling from Jaffna peninsula to perform here, along with her students.
Also coming in is the senior guru based in Colombo, Vasugi Jagatheeswaran, with her troupe.

There is also a troupe from Sydney in Australia led by a Sri Lankan - Dhamayanthi Balaraju - that will be here too.

Live web streaming . . .

Chella Videos of Chennai plans to web stream all the dance recitals at Chidambaram this Natyanjali. It had done so last year.

Chella, as he is fondly called in dance circles, shooting for decades in still and video says that his team will start streaming from Mayavaram, another venue for the Natyanjali ( Feb 26, 27 and 28) and from Feb.27 at Chidambaram.

Tune into to

Live telecast on DD on Sivaratri night

Doordarshan is telecasting live a section of the Natyanjali in Chidambaram.
DD's Podhigai channel for Chennai and Tamil Nadu and the DD Bharathi will telecast live the dances on Sivaratri night, from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Top ranking dancers are scheduled to perform at that time and news came in from Padma Subrahmanyam that she would like to perform on day one at about 8 p.m. Now, the hosts will have to find hera  slot since the formal plan for day one was long planned and publicised.

Share the info.

Brahan Natyanjali Dance Fest : Thanjavur

Huge demand to perform at Chidambaram

Over 700 artistes will be featured at the Natyanjali in Chidambaram this year. Among the well known dancers who will perform on Day One are Padma Subrahmanyam and Urmila Satyanarayanan.

Day One concerts are held well past midnight and into the wee hours of Day Two, that being the Sivaratri night.

There is a huge demand on the hosts, members of the Natyanjali Trust to accommodate dancers in the 15minutes slots. One trustee said that in Chidambaram the number of dance schools has doubled and each one is keen to get its students on stage here.So the trustees have had to create a plan of rotating the opportunity!

Demand are comes from the side of the Dikshitars, the priests who manage the temple here and who won a long and acrimonious legal battle against the state which had taken over the administration some years ago.

The Dikshitars actually allow the staging of the Natyanjali and their words count. This list has also grown. As is the pressure from VIPs and men at the top elsewhere.

Which leaves little space for the managers of the fest to design a well scheduled festival.

Rains in Chidambaram dampen preparatory work

Surprise rains that lashed the coast late on Sunday night have really dampened the work and the spirits of the Natyanjali team at Chidambaram.
The Weather Dept has just reported that about 2 cms of rain has fallen the last 12 hours and more is expected in the next 12 hours,

This is bad news for Team Natyanjali which spent many hours on the weekend cleaning the sand in the outer prakaram where the dances are held and cropping the vegetation in the north side.

The sheds and core infrastructure has been put in place.

The team here is small but dedicated. And staging the Natyanjali is not easy.  The rains can be a real dampener though this is not the season for rains; the day temperature has been rising

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Fest at Thanjavur runs for 7 days

The festival at Thanjavur will be a seven-day affair; the hosts here have been following this time table for some years now to accommodate as many artistes as they can.
So this year, the fest which starts on Sivaratri evening will run till March 5, Wednesday at the Brihadeeswara Temple.

Festival co-ordinator Muthukumar says that this year, in association with South Zone Cultural Centre, which has its office in Thanjavur a few dance troupes from north and north east are expected to travel here.

Which means rasikas get to see much more than just Bharatanatyam on the stage, which is the stone base on which the giant image of Nandi stands.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Natyanjali in Nagapattinam; the Schedule


Wednesday, February 26, 2014:

05-30 to 05-55:           Inauguration
06-00 to 06-25:           Radhe Vasudev                                               Coimbatore
06-30 to 06-55:           Apeksha N. Mundargi                                                Mumbai
07-00 to 07-25:           Mahalakshmi Ashwin                                     Chennai
07-30 to 07-55:           Sailaja Disciples                                              Chennai
08-00 to 08-25:           Sikkil Vasanthakumari Disciples                    Sikkil
08-30 to 08-55:           Supriya Ravikumar                                         Trichy
09-00 to 09-25:           Krishna Pranita                                               Mumbai
09-30 to 09-55:           Herambanathan Disciples                               Thanjavur       
10-00 to 10-25:           Thiruveezhimazhalai Kanaka                          Chennai

Thursday, February 27, 2014:

06-00 to 06-25:           Deepak Venkatesh                                          Kumbakonam
06-30 to 06-55:           Dr. Rekha Raju (Mohiniattam)                       Bengaluru
07-00 to 07-25:           Revathi Srinivasaraghavan                              Mumbai
07-30 to 07-55                        Kalakshetra                                                     Chennai
08-00 to 08-25:           Padmini Radhakrishnan Disciples                  Mumbai
08-30 to 08-55:           Lavanya Sankar                                               Coimbatore
09-00 to 09-25:           Bhavajan Kumar                                             Canada
09-30 to 09-55:           Chitra Visweswaran Disciples                        Chennai
10-00 to 10-25:           Dr. Jayashree Rajagopalan                              Mumbai
10-30 to 10-55:           Badari Divya Bhushan                                    Mysore
11-00 to 11-25:           Kuchipudi Arts Academy (Kuchipudi)          Chennai
11-30 to 11-55:           Bharathiyar Palkalai Koodam                         Puducherry
12-00 to 12-25:           Deepa Sashindran (Kuchipudi)                       Bengaluru
12-30 to 12-55:           Swapna Rajendrakumar (Mohiniattam)          Bengaluru
01-00 to 01-25:           Meenakshi Chitharanjan Disciples                 Chennai
01-30 to 01-55:           Amudha Dhandapani Disciples                      Coimbatore

Friday, February 28, 2014:

06-00 to 06-25:           Seetha Srinivasan                                            Madurai
06-30 to 06-55:           Dakshayani Ramachandran Disciples             Chennai
07-00 to 07-25:           Sujatha Mohan                                                Chennai
07-30 to 07-55                        Radhika Shurajit Disciples                              Chennai
08-00 to 08-25:           Prof. Parul Shah Disciples                              Baroda
08-30 to 08-55:           Srividya Krishna                                             Bengaluru
09-00 to 09-25:           Monojit Saha                                                  Kolkata
09-30 to 09-55:           Nrithya Pillai                                                  Chennai
10-00 to 10-25:           Gayathri Rajaji                                                Chennai

Saturday, March 1, 2014:

06-00 to 06-25:           Jayakamala Pandian Disciples                        Bengaluru
06-30 to 06-55:           Nanditha Prabhu (Mohiniattam)                    Chennai
07-00 to 07-25:           Nanditha Neroor                                             Chennai
07-30 to 07-55:           Kanaka Sudhakar                                            Sikkil
08-00 to 08-25                        Dr. M.S. Sarala Disciples                               Karaikudi
08-30 to 08-55:           Shama Krishna                                                Bengaluru
09-00 to 09-25:           Vasugi Jagatheeswaran Disciples                    Srilanka
09-30 to 09-55:           Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam Disciples             Puducherry & Karnataka
10-00 to 10-25:           Pandanallur Pandian Disciples                        Chennai

Sunday, March 2, 2014:

06-00 to 06-25:           Binesh Mahadevan                                         Chennai
06-30 to 06-55:           Revathi Ramachandran                                   Chennai
07-00 to 07-25:           Roja Kannan                                                   Chennai
07-30 to 07-55:           Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy Disciples           Chennai
08-00 to 08-25:           Madurai Muralidharan Disciples                    Chennai
08-30 to 08-55:           Yashoda Thakore (Kuchipudi)                       Hyderabad
09-00 to 09-25:           Saroja Vaidyanathan Disciples                       New Delhi
09-30 to 09-55:           S. Shivakumar                                                 Chennai
10-00 to 10-25:           Archana Palekar                                              Mumbai

Monday, March 3, 2014:

06-00 to 06-25:           Nagaraj                                                            Kodaikanal
06-30 to 06-55:           D. Suresh                                                        Panruti
07-00 to 07-25:           Jayaprakash Narayanan                                  Kumarapalayam
07-30 to 07-55:           Jayagouri Saikrishnan                                     Karaikkal
08-00 to 08-25:           Chitra Gopinath                                              Karaikkal
08-30 to 08-55:           Rajameenakshi                                                Nagapattinam
09-00 to 09-25:           N. Balakumar                                                  Nagapattinam

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Natyanjali at Thirunallar Temple; The schedule for 2014


Wednesday, February 26, 2014:

05-30 to 05-55:           Inauguration
06-00 to 06-25:           Local Talent
06-30 to 06-55:           Supriya Ravikumar                                         Trichy
07-00 to 07-25:           Krishna Pranita                                               Mumbai
07-30 to 07-55:           Herambanathan Disciples                               Thanjavur       
08-00 to 08-25:           Thiruveezhimazhalai Kanaka                          Chennai
08-30 to 08-55:           Apeksha N. Mundargi                                                Mumbai
09-00 to 09-25:           Mahalakshmi Ashwin                                     Chennai
09-30 to 09-55:           Sailaja Disciples                                              Chennai
10-00 to 10-25:           Sikkil Vasanthakumari Disciples                    Sikkil

Thursday, February 27, 2014:

05-30 to 05-55:           Local Talent
06-00 to 06-25:           Padmini Radhakrishnan Disciples                  Mumbai
06-30 to 06-55:           Lavanya Sankar                                               Coimbatore
07-00 to 07-25:           Bhavajan Kumar                                             Canada
07-30 to 07-55:           Chitra Visweswaran Disciples                        Chennai
08-00 to 08-25:           Deepak Venkatesh                                          Kumbakonam
08-30 to 08-55:           Dr. Rekha Raju (Mohiniattam)                       Bengaluru
09-00 to 09-25:           Revathi Srinivasaraghavan                              Mumbai
09-30 to 09-55                        Kalakshetra                                                     Chennai
10-00 to 10-25:           Deepa Sashindran (Kuchipudi)                       Bengaluru
10-30 to 10-55:           Swapna Rajendrakumar (Mohiniattam)          Bengaluru
11-00 to 11-25:           Meenakshi Chitharanjan Disciples                 Chennai
11-30 to 11-55:           Amudha Dhandapani Disciples                      Coimbatore
12-00 to 12-25:           Dr. Jayashree Rajagopalan                              Mumbai
12-30 to 12-55:           Badari Divya Bhushan                                    Mysore
01-00 to 01-25:           Kuchipudi Arts Academy (Kuchipudi)          Chennai
01-30 to 01-55:           Bharathiyar Palkalai Koodam                         Puducherry

Friday, February 28, 2014:

05-30 to 05-55:           Local Talent
06-00 to 06-25:           Srividya Krishna                                             Bengaluru
06-30 to 06-55:           Monojit Saha                                                  Kolkata
07-00 to 07-25:           Nrithya Pillai                                                  Chennai
07-30 to 07-55:           Gayathri Rajaji                                                Chennai
08-00 to 08-25:           Seetha Srinivasan                                            Madurai
08-30 to 08-55:           Dakshayani Ramachandran Disciples             Chennai
09-00 to 09-25:           Sujatha Mohan                                                Chennai
09-30 to 09-55:           Radhika Shurajit Disciples                              Chennai
10-00 to 10-25:           Prof. Parul Shah Disciples                              Baroda

Saturday, March 1, 2014:

05-30 to 05-55:           Local Talent
06-00 to 06-25:           Dr. M.S. Sarala Disciples                               Karaikudi
06-30 to 06-55:           Shama Krishna                                                Bengaluru
07-00 to 07-25:           Vasugi Jagatheeswaran Disciples                    Srilanka
07-30 to 07-55:           Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam Disciples             Puducherry & Karnataka
08-00 to 08-25:           Pandanallur Pandian Disciples                        Chennai
08-30 to 08-55:           Jayakamala Pandian Disciples                        Bengaluru
09-00 to 09-25:           Nanditha Prabhu (Mohiniattam)                    Chennai
09-30 to 09-55:           Nanditha Neroor                                             Chennai
10-00 to 10-25:           Kanaka Sudhakar                                            New Delhi

Sunday, March 2, 2014:

05-30 to 05-55:           Local Talent
06-00 to 06-25:           Madurai Muralidharan Disciples                    Chennai
06-30 to 06-55:           Yashoda Thakore (Kuchipudi)                       Hyderabad
07-00 to 07-25:           Saroja Vaidyanathan Disciples                       New Delhi
07-30 to 07-55:           S. Shivakumar                                                 Chennai
08-00 to 08-25:           Archana Palekar                                              Mumbai
08-30 to 08-55:           Binesh Mahadevan                                         Chennai
09-00 to 09-25:           Revathi Ramachandran                                   Chennai
09-30 to 09-55:           Roja Kannan                                                   Chennai
10-00 to 10-25:           Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy Disciples           Chennai