Monday, 23 February 2015

For rasikas, a variety of dance forms

There are over 1000 people here to watch the recitals this Sunday evening.
And they enjoy a panorama of Indian dances.

The Odissi dancers from Bhubaneswar get a huge round of applause. Their recital is dramatic and tight and the audience loves it. Also, for many it is their first exposure to Odissi.

This team is led by Gayatri Ranbir and with her are Suraj Sahu, Niladri Mohanty, Gokul Sridas, Jyotirmayi Das and Manasi Maithi.

Groups like this one are well-rehearsed to present dance recitals in the 20-30mins package form and this evening, they do a good job and impress the audience.

The Natyanjali circuit provides for rasikas to enjoy a variety of classical dance forms they rarely get to see. A better promotion of the fest can bring in bigger audiences.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

6 pm to 4 am - dancers' busy circuit

The Natyanjali circuit can be a very punishing one. 

The 35-member group of guru Sheela Unnikrishnan started their first recital at about 6.30 pm one day and went to sleep at 4 am, after four recitals on the trot in one night.
And as they ended the last, they got a call from the Natyanjali team at Gangaikondacholapuram, asking if the group could perform at that heritage site.

Groups like that of Sheela work on a well-oiled machine and can carry off their shows under pressure. 

They look like professionals when they arrive at a venue. But there will be people who will argue that children must not be stretched.

Students of the Dhananjayans

This was a rare appearance - of the sishyas of the Dhananjayans of Chennai.

Their senior teacher and dancer Anusha Natarajan led ten young dancers for a medley of songs on lord Shiva. The team included Mahalakshmi B, Chitra Rajaraman, Subhaalakshmi, Sukanya P., Saradasree B., Meenakshi  N,  V. Bharagavi,  Srimathi, Sivadass and Brinda Kannamma.

India wins and there is time for a heritage tour

The India victory in the World Cup match was a Sunday treat and a break from our hectic Natyanjali circuit assignment.

There was also time to do a quick heritage trail on a bike. Activist Muthuswamy took use around - the outer fortification of the old Tanjore town, the oldest three temples here, the quarters of the four communities, a few fantastic houses, the lanes and by lanes, a huge water tank linked to four others including the one inside the Big Temple complex and houses of the Tanjoe Quartet lineage, the last of the devadasis and families who make the famed Tanjore plates besides the rather pitiful existence of the folk 

This is a trail that a group is developing; private walks are on. A more formal one will follow.

A yogi of a dancer, this young one from Neyveli

There are people or artistes you meet only at Natyanjali time. Big built Venkatakrishna, who looks out of a Telugu movie taps me and says hello. I cannot recall our meeting but his rewind helps.

He works for Neyveli Lignite Corpn in Tamil Nadu and is here with his wife, Anuradha who teaches Kuchipudi at the NLC township and will present a small group at the Natyanjali as its final recital for Saturday.

Venkatakrishna shows me video clips of his artistic career - being part of a Telugu drama tradition that runs for a few hundred years where artistes sing and act in shows that can run for hours in the night in the Andhra outback.

Two young artistes of Neyveli group impress. Nivedha twists and twirls with ease - later we get to know she has won dozens of medals in yoga events. Jhanavi got a long slot to do her solo, including dancing on the plate and on a pot.

Two groups from Malaysia

Sudha Damodharan from Malaysia is a familiar face in Chidambaram. A dance guru, her daughter studies dance at Annamalai Univ and volunteers at the fest there.
This year, Sudha flew in with a dozen dance students, some school, some college level.
"It is the Chinese New Year season back home so many girls wanted to come!', she told us. The group performed in Chidambaram and in Thanjavur.

The group shared the musicians it had assigned with another Malaysian group led by Shangar Krishnaswamy of Narthana Fine Arts.

Notes after the day's dances . . .

- The dances at the Big Temple do not get a huge audience. The never ending stream of school students out on a hurricane picnic that takes them to four destinations in 12 hours does not stop to look, maybe just stare.
But one evening the hosts brought a big group of junior students from the local state-run school for the hearing impaired and they got to enjoy a few recitals early in the evening.

-  In Thanjavur, a local promoter of herbal products serves guests herbal tea that is made of two dozen native ingredients. Served hot and in small cups it makes a good drink as the dew sets in by 9 pm. This is also one way in which the Natyanjali hosts rope in supporters.

- The Interpretation Centre ( located on the far south end of the campus) is a must check point for visitors, more so for dancers. The booth that plays a good film on the temple has been hibernating, we learn. Natyanjali hosts may want to share with dancers destinations to check out when they are here.

The Coimbatoreans are here too

Imagine 30 dancers on stage. or so we thought when the Coimbatore based artistes of Meenakshi Sagar landed up backstage. 
They took turns to perform and even then, it was a crowded stage!

A South Zone Cultural Centre officer said he was impressed with the dedication of this guru who gave up a lawyer's profession to turn to her first love and has been moulding many teens in classical dance.

A good word from arts managers helps you get into the circuit.

More Bangaloreans!

Of late, dancers from Bangalore are keenly applying for a slot at the Natyanjali. Organisers are also keen to have them over - makes the Natyanjali a more broad based circuit, moving away from hosting only Chennai artistes.

Dancers of Natya Sathsang Dance Academy, of guru M. Swamy which has its base near Sharjapur performed here on Saturday evening.

Their leader, dancer Deepa Nallapan gave a solo on the very popular 'theru-vil varano. . .'

Foreign tourists as guests

Thanjavur always has loads of foreign tourists doing the circuit. The Brahan Natyanjali hosts target them at their hotels and even arrange for their passage to the dance fest.
One of them even gets called up to felicitate the artistes.

Juan Braun from Argentina got that call yesterday. This communications specialist loves to be a free traveller and he is doing south India now.

With a bit more of hand-holding tourists may show more keenness to turn to an evening of music and dance here.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

A NGO comes to the stage

Day 5 of the Brahan Natyanjali provides an interesting meeting at the dancing stage.
Listed for the second recital of the evening is the Dhanans Womens Trust of Chennai. So what is a NGO doing here?

Young dancers Queen and Niveditha provide the answer. These two alumni of Kalakshetra train students in dance in Ambattur and in Tambaram; they also work with this NGO to expose students in small schools to classical dance with workshops and short recitals.

The duo say they have a small mission - to educate school kids who do not have access to classical dance and perhaps enable  a few to perform someday.

How about a Walk in old Thanjavur?

Thanjavur has lots to offer even for the 'repeat' traveller. If only you enable yourself to explore.
And this is something that dancers must do even as they head to perform at the Brihadeswarar Temple.

Having read and heard about the efforts of the state to clear and rebuild the moat around the fort and even introduce boating when there is water in it, I take time off to take a look at the work.

A Tourism Promotion Council backed by the district has been formed. But it needs to do lots as quick as it can - tourism gets low priority really.

There is an informal Walking Trail here. But if the Council can enable a formal one - the route marked in a given color and a brochure that marks notes on the milestones on the trail, any person can do the Walk on his/her own.

Then dancers could be encouraged to do the Walk too. There must be more to merely performing at the Big Temple and rushing home.

From Anantapur, with zeal

There was a telling moment backstage during the recital of guru G Sandhya Murthy's team of Kuchipudi dancers.

Two juniors came to the help of two other juniors whose costumes had slipped badly after the first item was over. There were only a few minutes to break and return for the next.
But the juniors quickly readied themselves, took their place and were off in the spotlights!
This fellowship is a lesson that the artistes learn early on a hurried tour.

The group had driven all the way from Anantapur, with a stop for a show in Kalahasthi in Andhra, then drove to Thiruvannamalai and got to Thanjavur.

Some dancers endure the rough ride to make the anjali.  Sandhya Murthy runs Sree Nrutya Kala Nilayam.

Herbal tea for free

Many local businesses get closer to this fest. They do a bit for it.
This evening as the chill set in, guests and artistes were offered a cup of herbal tea.
Sri Annai Herbal Tea, based in the town had a team to serve us.
And it did this with a smile, and invited us to their store.

Brahan Natyanjali's Muthukumar says a dozen plus such supporters make the fest. 

The local Professional Couriers ships all the invites free.
And South Zone Cultural Centre pays a bit to a few troupes.

Everything counts for a seven-day fest.

Dancers from four corners

Katyayani Gupta and Himanshu Srivatsa had performed late on Thursday evening at Kumbakonam just as we were leaving the temple to head to Thanjavur.
They were here this evening. They learn Bharatanatyam from Kamalini Rangarajan and from Saroja Vaidhyanathan in Delhi.
Their event was clubbed but they presented solos at the top of Friday evening's series at the Big temple.

From Delhi and Assam, from Mumbai and Anantapur in AP, dancers head to this state for the dance tribute.

The Natyanjali buzz seems to have reached east and west.

Friday, 20 February 2015

From Assam to Thanjavur

Three days down and three days up - by train.

This group from Guwhathi, Assam did that journey to dance here. And did it gamely. Who would have given up the day the dancers got a call from the hosts?

Tatini Das led a small bang of her dancers of the Manjary Dance Academy to Thanjavur and enjoyed the experience.

Great spirit indeed.

Thanjavur; the best place when the sun sinks

We like to watch the sun go down behind the Big Temple in Thanjavur. You too would have had a great visual experience if you did that on a visit.

It is the setting for the first of the dance recitals of the Brahan Natyanjali here. This scene at dusk and the fantastic natural setting for the dance is unbeatable in the Natyanjali circuit. Thankfully, the Archaeological Survey of India has encouraged this annual fest inside.

And the hosts do not mess around with the space. I always wonder at the giant Nandi sitting up there - enjoying the dances as he looks on at the Lord. The overdose of loud music may not be music to its ears but it looks serene even at 10 pm when the last of the recitals ends.

There is a need to build a bigger audience here - since the space is located away from neighborhoods local people do not stay on or walk in.

Waiting for the Mahamaham; 2016

Kumbakonam closes by 10 p.m. The big, still-expanding market, the shopping spaces and the inner streets.
But its businessmen make good money - from the zari and vessels trade. The religious circuit stop also generates revenues.
So the Natyanjali gets funding from large hearted sponsors. CUB,a bank is a prime funder.

Next year is Mahamaham year when lakhs of people will head here so the Natyanjali folks have plans to have a long music and dance fest.

A guru goes back in time . .

Guru S. Kalyanasundaram who hails from a distinguished lineage of natyacharyas was in a huge emotional rewind mood on Thursday evening.
He was here to do the nattuvangam of his sister's daughter Shruti.

On stage, the guru recalled that it was in this same place, when he was about 7years old that he had had his arangetram, watched by some of the great acharyas of that time in Thanjavur.

His eyes were wet - he was going back to the 1930s. He is now 83 years old.

As he told the audience, " We hail from Thiruvidaimarudur though Mumbai is now our home and people know us as Mumbai based gurus."

The Congress support

Kumbakonam supports the Natyanjali well - the west side of the Sri Kumbeswarar Temple where the dances are held is packed on all evenings. The dew has been a tad heavy after 9 pm and many people tend to leave then.

Kumbakonam is also a old Congress fort, now weak. But seniors like G R Moopanar who are the patrons of the fest make sure the event is grand and well managed.

Every evening, he and his local team drop by, make their presence felt and exchange pleasantries. 

Thankfully, they refrained from preening and upstaging the show. Politicians have a role to play; a discreet one.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Kumbakonam Natyanjali; at 8 pm, Thursday

Dusk at Kumbakonam . . .

The dusk time light falls on the tall gopuram of the Sri Kumbheswarar Temple where the Natyanjali is being held. Every evening, recitals start at 6 p.m. and run past midnight.

The second visual of the cuppola which stands at the side of the stage where dancers perform. It now serves as a green room - if this was well lit it would enhance the effect of the backdrop to this stage.

Seldom are heritage structures 'used' to prop the performance space.

Natyanjali in Thirunallar

  • There is always a crowd at the getes of the temple in Thirunallar, the home of 'sani bhagawan'.

  • This place falls under Puduchery ( Pondicherry) and is managed by the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Dept of the state.
  • The department now hosts the Natyanjali here, with support from local rasikas and Padma Subrahmanyam's team - the latter arranges for dancers to perform here.

  • The temple is not stunning, nor is the community hall the best space for dance.
  • Executive office Panneerselvan tells us that there was a crowd for the recitals on Sivaratri night while there are 200 to 300 people on the other evenings.
  • He says the artistes are happy performing here. "We even provide accommodation to touring dancers," he says.

Harvest time in the countryside

  • It is harvest time in the countryside here.
  • As you drive out of Chidambaram, workers are busy in the fields and off them.
  • The sun is a tad sharp too after noontime though the dew drops strongly at night.

  • The rivers through are mostly dry save for pools of water like ribbons.
  • We drive past Sirkazhi temple - one space where the attempt to hold the Natyanjali fizzled out. 

  • If you leave the newly contracted highways and get into the by-roads the green is a soothing sight at this time of the year.
The photo here is of the Arasalyar river that runs into the Kumbakonam region.

For the lord . . .

  • Dancers who wanted to offer their anjali inside the Lord Nataraja temple had to be content to do this around the flag mast area due to restrictions laid by the Dikshitars.

  • Padma Subrahmanyam and her troupe who stepped in on Sivaratri night abandoned their plan to dance for a few minutes in front of the lord after the surging crowd gave them very little space.

Missing at Chidambaram; the dining

  • We missed  the community dining space in Chidambaram this year. The hall where artistes, volunteers and the media dined thrice a day. And where dancers exercised and did some quick rehearsals.

  • The twist in the events forced the Trustees to cancel this facility, save on money.. but artistes were served food at a local restaurant.

  • Many Natyanjali hosts in this circuit do their best in hospitality.

Time to debate; venues and the festival's future

  • The men who curate and host the Natyanjali fest in Chidambaram the past 33 years are preparing to debate - where should the fest they supported and fostered go from here?
  • Will it work if it continues to be held at a new venue, as they have done now, away from the Chidambaram temple?
  • Many in this core team sound very disappointed. But they know they cannot walk away into the sunset.
  • Mornings here are spent throwing up ideas and engaging in short discussions with well wishers.
  • Many senior dancers skipped then fest, unsure the twists and turns the parallel tests would take.
  • There is also an attempt here to understand the feedback from local people and rasikas.
  • What do you think the team should do? Mail - We will share these thoughts with the Trust.

From Switzerland . . .

Switzerland-based Gayathri Sridharan and her mother flew down to be at the Natyanjali in Chidambaram. Gayathri studies dance from a guru who learnt under late K J Sarasa. Here in Chidambaram, dancer Shanmughasundaram led her to the stage.

Shanmughasundaram himself is a student of Sarasa, in whose memory a dance fest is being held in Chennai this week.

Both performed at the fest outside the temple on Day 2 of the fest - Feb.18 evening.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Dikshitars behind the fest . . .

Ayyappa Dikshitar says he hails from a family of musicians. He is also a astrologer.
He has used his music training, contacts and support from colleagues to host small music festivals. He seems to have been the one who decided to stage the dance festival too, at Sivaratri time.

"As the people who conduct the rituals and who know the spiritual side of what this temple is known for we are also knowledgeable in the conduct of dance here," he told us as we began to record for our docu-film on the Natyanjali.
Ayyappa seems confident about not only conducting the fest this year but carrying on in the future.

"Padma asked us, what can I do for this? - when we told her we were to host the fest and sought her support," explains Ayyappa of the call they made to Padma Subrahmanyam, as we chat at his home which is located in a tiny lane off East Car Street.
He and his team have much to do to improve this fest.

Photo here, by Mohan Das Vadakara is of the festival inauguration inside the temple.

Temple's kumbhabishekam in May

The Chidambaram temple is being prepared for the kumbhabishekam in May 2015.

Hectic work is on in many sides of the temple, the most evident being the scraping of and painting of the massive gopurams on all four sides.

We were told that the A. C. Muthiah family will fund the expenses of the gopuram in the south.

Ayyappa Dikshitar, a key player of the dance fest on now inside the temple says he and his team are curating a long music and dance fest at that time.

But the eyesores are increasing. Mantaps and halls are being built in this heritage campus and nobody seems to care. 

Coca-Cola and Chidambaram: docu-film rolls . .

We at KutcheriBuzz are working on a docu film. The parallel dance fests in Chidambaram triggered the idea.
Where is the Natyanjali?
The current dance circuit should provide us thoughts, comments, observations and lots of fresh visuals.
Is this now a grand show? Is it still growing in Tamil Nadu? How are commercial interests playing in? What is the politics of it?
Does the photo featured here, we shot off East Car Street add to the theme we are exploring?

Longtime associate Mohan Das Vadakara is with us, shooting. It should take us six months to complete the film.
Hopefully, this will be a document for the future.
Do share your ideas too - at -

Two looks at the fest in the temple . .

The crowd was big - over 2000/2500 people sat through the recitals even as visiting devotees streamed into the temple for the first Sivaratri puja.

There was a hum as dancer-actor Shobana prepared to perform. Hers was a solo and even the boys who may have not sat through a dance recital  squeezed themselves into the middle to watch her.

They stayed on to watch Padma Subrahmanyam and team. And then, actor dancer Vineet.

The informal launch event was kept short. No controversial statements were made save for one by a Dikshitar who said that the Natyanjali at the temple in Chidambaram alone was the true anjali and carried meaning.

Seen on stage were a few VIPs who are boosting the fest - like mridangam vidwan Thiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam.

Creating a new performance space in Chidambaram

Reporting two parallel festivals is not easy; even if the venues are about 800metres away. One inside the temple in Chidambaram and one off the busy South Car Street.

We chose to hop twice before our tired bodies said stop; though the day temperature is about 32degrees it is cool after dusk.

The alternate site chosen by the Natyanjali Trust which had been elbowed out of the temple by the Dikshitars was actually a nice one. It is part of the sprawling properties of the MAM Ramaswamy Chettiar family and this piece of ground lies behind a row of chat rams ( wedding/rest halls).

Over five days, men cleared the vegetation, trimmed a few trees and imported lorry loads of river sand to even the ground. A stage was set, the props added to make it look aesthetic and the lights, sound and TV displays set in place.

And when the first of the recitals rolled out, the space got a charm of its own. Quiet, compact and neat. It certainly was not as it had been in the great temple. Those vibes were missing. And one could feel it. The hosts certainly did. They seem a tad disappointed. But they smiled now and then.

There were some nice performances too . Chennai based guru Divya Sena led her students of the TN University for Music and Dance and USA based Pooja Bhalerao who had flown in specially to perform in Chidambaram gave a great finale - a student of guru Dr Sandhya Purecha, it was her night to remember. ( photo here is of Pooja)

Over 1500 people sat here during the 8 to 9 pm recitals; the crowd thinned out as they walked out to go to the temple on Sivaratri night.

The hosts are hoping it will be packed here the rest of the four evenings. If that happens they will be happily compensated for the huge disappointment of being refused permission to stage their 34th festival inside the great temple.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Two festival scopes . .

The two festivals' scape - the first picture shows the audience at the temple with the stage in the background while the second photo shows the venue outside the temple, off South Car Street - a precast stage which has been used often and stands in good stead even now.

The stern, stiff Dikshitars . . .

The Dikshitars are not going to like it when they are told that they are like the police. The police of their own space. And at Chidambaram, that space now is the lord Nataraja Temple.
Not all of them are stiff, severe and cold.

But surely the ones who now host the dance festival are.

When we stepped into the temple campus at about 1.30 p.m. the gates were shot tight; only contractors and their vehicles were allowed in.

"The dances start at 4. Come then, " said a stern Dikshitar, at his post. It took some convincing to get in and take a look at the venue. To his credit, he softened when we chatted him about the temple kumbhabishekam in May.

At the festival stage, a group of young Dikshitars held fort. No photos from the sides, no entry into artistes area. They shooed away people who looked nosey to them.

The Bangaloreans are here . . .

It is good to meet up with many artistes from Bangalore at Chidambaram. They have found a slot every year. Some like Pulekesi Kasturi are regulars, leading the musicians of a dancer who has been lucky to get invited.

The Yeswanthpur guru is making a quick in and out trip here because he has to perform with his sishyas on the morrow on a lord Krishna theme in Malleswaram.  A city sabha is celebrating its golden jubilee with fifty concerts since early January this year.

So does Bangalore also host concerts and tests at Sivaratri time?

Pulekesi says the concerts are small and held at temples. Perhaps Sri Someswara Temple will be busy tonight . .

Bangalore is hosting its annual Spring Fest now and then, from late March the Sri Ramanavami Music Fests will follow. Lots for artistes and rasikas.

Media buzz in print and gossip in the air

The local newspapers are having a field day in Chidambaram - reporting on all that is going on on the sidelines of the Natyanjali here. Two parallel dance tests can produce loads of tidbits for the news columns and the newshounds are licking their tongues!

One newspaper had pictures of the stages at the two venues in its inside pages. Another speculated on the plus and minuses of having two of the same. A third told us of the dharna that a few Dikshitars had held in the temple campus protesting their brothers' act.

This evening, gossip mongers said that there was infighting among the Dikshitars on the idea of hosting an event in which they have no experience and what is also not their core responsibility.

A huge group of policemen landed up outside the temple, to strengthen the security - there was a hint that things could get tense.

Local newshouds did complain - they had to hop between venues and their legs were being stretched!

Street houses; all but gone

Our small towns change; though change may be slow. Chidambaram has.

The big showrooms, of the bikes and cars have opened on the outskirts.

The 'car streets' are still changing. The tiled, street houses on the north side of the core town are all but gone. In their place, two and three-storeyed apartment blocks.

Green landscape . . .

The landscape changes now. On the road to Chidambaram, in the Porto Novo region. From a dusty, dry one to a deep green, velvety sheet of just paddy fields that seem to roll on and on into the far end that the eye can see.
Water is aplenty - it runs down the canals in the fields here. Obviously, the rainfall earlier in the year has been beneficial - even the small canals have water.

We used to spot the gopurams of the Chidambaram temple just after we left Bhuvanagiri. Now, if you take the bye-pass road you don't get to enjoy that sight.

The sun is up but it is still pleasant at 1 p.m. as we drive into Chidambaram. Only the odd, small flex boards tell you that a great dance festival is on. Or should we say two tests are on.

51 recitals at Big Temple

The hosts of the Brihanatyanjali at the BigTemple, Thanjavur call us as we leave a dusty Cuddalore behind us and have 47 kms ahead to Chidambaram.

Their invite came in late - guess the cause of the delay is in the scheduling artistes for a seven-day long fest, yes Thanjavur hosts the longest anjali of this kind!

There are to be 51 recitals at this venue and save for eight solos, the rest are all group recitals.

The South Zone Cultural Centre which is based in this heritage town pays for the travel of outstation dancers - this is not much but having the Centre as a partner helps.

Over the years, like many other Natyanjali teams the Thanjavur group has also managed to involve local hotels and businesses as partners.

Natyanjalis also cost a lot to host!

Sight on East Coast Road . .

At a small temple on the East Coast Road, near Kalpakkam, home to the atomic power plant. We sighted this as we hit the road to Chidambaram.

The ECR ( East Coast Road) is scenic - with the natural coast running on the eastern side. But high-rise apartments are mushrooming here, marring what is a great sight on a sunny morning.

The heat has set it - temperatures will rise up to 35degrees. The nights are chill, with dew heavy at times.

Mylapore is abuzz too!

Lots of music and dance events have been lined up for Sivaratri evening  in Mylapore. They are to be held in sabha halls and in local temples on Feb.17. While Bharatitya Vidya Bhavans hosts a discourse and a dance, a mini hall here will host a 12hour long musical medley hosting senior and junior artistes.
RASA is hosting a dance fest in Sri Kapali Temple while Arkay Centre and Carnatica join hands for a dusk to dawn musical medley that is open to all.
Sudha Ragunathan sings at the Siddhi Buddhi Vinayaka Temple in R A Puram, setting off the night long concerts.
There are similar events elsewhere.
If you are there at any event, share buzz and pics at the KB Facebook page.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Padma Subrahmanyam to perform in Chidambaram temple

Senior Bharatanatyam dancer Padma Subrahmanyam will keep her date with the Natyanjali at the Chidambaram temple. She has performed here on Sivaratri night continuously save for one occasion when there was a hiccup.

This year, she performs soon after the formal inauguration on the stage in the east outer prakaram of the temple. That will be at about 8p.m.

The Dikshitars curate their festival at Chidambaram

It took some time for us to locate the people who were planning to host the dance fest inside the temple campus in Chidambaram.
Over the last 14 years that we at KutcheriBuzz have been at this campus, reporting on the fest we have made friends will various Dikshitars.

For some years now, a small group have been hosting a Sivaratri music fest in the inner prakaram of the temple's south side. This was a small effort but it featured some well known artistes like Sikkil Gurucharan.

A day ago we made contact with Ayyappa Dikshitar who is secretary of the team for the dance fest. It lists some VIPs in its team and the core is manned by the Dikshitars.

Ayyappa says that while dances of the Sivaratri night will run from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. the next morning, the recitals will end by 10 p.m. on all the other four evenings.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Thiruvarur fest starts Feb.13 evening

The Natyanjali fest at Thiruvarur's Sri Thyagarajaswami Temple starts on Feb.13 evening with a formal inauguration and end on the morning after Sivaratri.

 This scheduling has been done in order to facilitate the movement of dancers who do the temples circuit for the festival, hopping from one venue to another.

On Sivaratri evening, the recitals here start at about 5.30 pm and will go on til about 3 a.m.the next day.   Slots have been given to dancers from rural Tamil Nadu, which is the thing to do.

Padma Subrahmanyam's tryst with Nagapattinam

This is Natyanjali rewind. A rewind from the coastal town of Nagapattinam.

It was here that senior Bharatanatyam dancer and guru Padma Subrahmanyam decided that the main temple in her hometown must also be the stage for the Natyanjali dances. The year is 2001.
Chidambaram had started the dances in a small way and was building on it. The effort had caught the imagination of dancers and rasikas.

So Padma spoke to a few well wishers in Nagapattinam, also the town that was badly hit by the tsunami a few years later and a Natyanjali was curated. At the Neelayadakshi Amman Temple.

Padma's nephew Kannan Balakrishan recalls that the first fest featured a few dancers, and Padma and her sishyas. It started at about 6 p.m. and ended a tad after midnight. Simple and a real anjali.

Since then the Nagapattinam anjali grew, slowly.

One man who gave it his all is Pannerselvam, who runs restaurants here. He was host, manager, co ordinator and volunteers leader. He still is.

Today, the Nagapattinam fest is taken care of by a committee. And to works well.

From here, Padma, her team and the well wishers have helped host similar festivals in temples in Thirunallar, Thiruvarur, Kumbakonam and in other temples in this part of Tamil Nadu. Suggesting artistes, co-ordinating travel, networking volunteers.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Two dance tests in Chidambaram?

Will the Dikshitars also host a dance festival in the temple now that a section of them have elbowed out the Trustees who hosted it for many years?

Nothing formal is known yet though one hears they have made contact with a few artistes, asking them to perform here.

If this does happen, then Chidambaram will see this strange spectacle of hosting two dance festivals at Sivaratri time.

Trust elbowed to move fest out of Chidambaram temple

The bad news came early this year - that the Natyanjali in Chidambaram would not be performed inside the famed temple dedicated to Lord Nataraja.

For over 30 years now, a private Trust took over an initiative that was started by the state and a few art connoisseurs. It managed the festival well but there were some murmurs from the priestly Dikshitars who manage this temple.

One group of Dikshitars informally decided to host the dances itself and sidelined the request from the Trust.

Failed in its attempts to make the Dikshitars see reason, the Trust has now chosen a private plot on South Car Street to host the five-day fest. But this will certainly not come anywhere close to what they Fest was all these years. After all, performing inside the temple creates a unique feel.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Welcome to Natyanjali 2015

Welcome back, back to yet another edition of the Natyanjali Dance Festivals which will unfold in mid-February across Tamil Nadu.

Ever since  we first enjoyed our short reportage of the festival in Chidambaram and came back year after year to cover it and then travel to other temples which were hosting them, we have expanded our coverage and covered these tests closely - because they deserve such reportage.

This year then, we plan to be at various venues February 17 onwards top report the events.
Reports, pictures and some videos too, besides some light buzz on the KutcheriBuzz Facebook page.