Wednesday, 26 December 2012

DAY 1 @ Natya Kala Conference, T Nagar

All the top end recitals / lec-dems of Day One at the 32nd annual Natya Kala Conference hosted by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on Dec.26 morning were value for money events - I have not seen such a strong lineup at recent past conferences here.

If there is one thing that can be done away with is this long-winded, boring, exasperatingly dull inauguration.
Raise the curtain, say a prayer, light a lamp, say hello to your chief guests, mark 3 minutes at the mike and this ceremony can be wow.
It is 9.55 am and the opening is still meandering on stage.

Thankfully, the recitals/talks were good.
Up first was the celebrated Sadanam Balakrishnan, in his Kathakali costume and Leela Samson in her Bharatanatyam one. A one-minute introduction on the scene and its background was enough- taken from the Urvashi - Pururavas relationhip.

The excerpt, taken from a piece created by Sadanam's guru Kondiveetil Narayanan Nair flowed seamlessly, letting the audience know what happens 'When Parallels Meet', for Samahit is the theme of this dance conference. The duo have worked and performed together often in recent times.
Truly, a striking performance by India's best known artistes complemented by a group of musicians including two who recited slokhas live on stage.

Up second was veteran dancer Lakshmi Vishwanathan who gave the recital her signature inimitable touch, making brief introductions which had anecdotal references and goading her concert musicians to get going for some quick but measured excerpts.

Lakshmi said that while people had been listening to Carnatic music for ages, many had looked questioningly at the dance form restricted to temples, but later they could see what they had been listening to when dancers went on stage when Bharatanatyam became acceptable.

She wound off with a tribute to the Arudra festival to follow, doing an extract from ' theruvil varaanO', the padam for the occasion, which she said she had performed for her arangetram.

Up next was vocalist T M Krishna, a surprise on the list and yet a speaker eagerly awaited in a fairly packed hall.
Krishna, as is his wont set the framework for his lecture and went about it like a professor with 2 hours before him. His intro looked at what classical music and Bharatanatyam is all about in pure art terms and he looked at what parallels could be found and what lines ran on either side of these lines.

Quoting historical and other sources, Krishna made the point that it was Bharatanatyam that had contributed much to every aspect of Carnatic music and not the other way round, giving examples of songs which were implicit to classical dance which later got into the music realm.
His other observation was the tendency for today's dancers to seek advice from experts on languages and literature who suggested great extracts and lines to be used in productions but which lost the greatness of the music that had to be part of it.

Also, Krishna was critical of music accompanists for dance like mridangam artistes who offloaded their music baggage on dancers without any respect for the music composed for a piece.
Conference convenor, dancer Priyadarshini Govind, who was feted many times this morning on being named for the prestigious national Sangeet Natak Award stepped in in defence of thinking dancers, to counter Krishna's arguments at the fag end of his lecture.
A panel discussion followed.

Sadly, a documentary made by Adoor Gopalakrishnan on Koodiyattam, screened at the mini hall ran to a empty hall. The film idea is a good one; we need to have more and more docu films on our artistes but .   .
This conference is open to all. Starts at 9.15 am. On till Dec.31.

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