37th year Art festival 2011
A great day in its true sense, with a great beginning in the pleasantness of the Margazhi's cool morning!
Kartik Fine Arts hosted and launched the three day dance conference titled 'Mad and Divine'. It started with grandeur in a dignified style. Dr. Anita Ratnam is the curator and convener, and she went around meeting people, with warm words and gestures. The conference is a congregation, of guests and guest speakers in the classical dance field from across the globe. At the lobby, atleast half a dozen video journalists were focussed on chats with whoever they found worthy to talk about this prestigious dance show.
The theme was an intellectual one, that dealt encompassing the compositions of the 'mystique women saint poets of India'- Andal, Meerabai, Akka Mahedevi, Lalleshwari, Avvaiyar and more.
The seminar was inaugurated by L Sabaretnam, Chairman of Kartik Fine Arts, after a impressive welcome address by Dr Anita. While Anita lauded the efforts of the sabha organisers for the wonderful planning, Sabaretnam welcomed and thanked all the artistes who are part of it - he read out a long list of names, with dozens of interesting adjectives prefixed.
Shantha Serbjeet Singh, Vice Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi, gave a highly analytical cerebral talk, in her keynote address on the topic. She appreciated the efforts and leadership qualities of L Sabaretnam and Dr Anita Ratnam. Sabaretnam conferred Natya Chudar award on Sruthipriya, a student of the dance guru, Suryanarayana Moorthy.
The fore noon session was a judicious mix of talks, illustrations, presentations, and performances. Attended by who's who of the dance field - Padma Subramaniam, Chithra Visweswaran, Sudharani Raghupathy, C V Chandrasekhar and more stalwarts, it was mostly of a research oriented hi fi event.
Dr Archana Venkatesan, University of California (Davis), spoke on Legends of the Goddess - Andal stories in the Sri Vaishnava traditions. She gave a wonderful and absorbing talk on the lesser known tales of Andal - touching Divya Suri caritham, Anugraha, the messenger for the love of Andal, the swayamvaram of Andal attended by 108 Vishnus, out of which Ranganatha won her hand - an information packed speech.
Vidhya Subramanian (USA), gave a demonstration, Ojas with that spiritual energy I yearn. Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik (Mumbai), mythologist and corporate trainer, talked on Myth of the Mad Mystical Women in a simple manner.
The participants are a scholarly gathering of dance artistes, delving deep into the intricacies of the subject. An interactive session after each presentation gave an insight into the loads of serious stuff enclosed in the topic.
Every smallest detail of the arrangement for the seminar had been given attention to, and it was a well managed show. The aesthetics of the lovely stage, set up in an informal drawing room style is a bit to taste.
The evening saw a bountiful bunch of dance performances. Starting at 5 pm, it went on for several hours and was a treat to dance lovers.
Narthaki Nataraj, Sangeet Natak Akademi 2011 award recipient, presented 'Sutta Pazham', featuring Tamil poet, Avvaiyar. Commencing with the female poet's 'Paalum Thelithenum from Vinayagar Agaval, the Ganapathi sthuthi, she went on with the verses from the anthology of her poems - from Purananuru, Aathichoodi, Kondrai vendhan and more, that popularised universal truths and are considered gems in Tamil poetry. There was also a piece similar to padam, that depicted the nayika's longing to see her beloved, in the ragam Needhimathi. The final thillana was interesting, with jathis in 'Aram seyya virumbu, aaruvadhu sinam'! A joyful experience for Tamil lovers. The whole programme was excellently choreographed and set into a weighty Bharathanatyam recital.
Maddhu Nattraj of Bangalore, presented Nirvaya - Dissolving in Divinity' inspired by the Kannada Vachanas or poetry of the women mystics. In the Kathak style of dance, and stage set with props, it was more or less like a sound and light programme. She danced with grace in the magical effects of lighting.
Then, it was over to Malavika Sarukkai. Titled 'Maname Brindavaname', the focus was entirely on Andal. The rasikas crowd burgeoned to see the legendary dancer in action. She mesmerised the audience with brisk, captivating body and hand movements. Full of charm, Malavika Sarukkai performed to numbers from 'Nachiyar Thirumozhi' depicting Andal, herself sporting a flower garland and Andal kondai. Tightly packed hall had the organisers gasping, as more and more dance dignitaries, (including Kalanidhi Narayanan), kept pouring in.
Curtains went down after a thrilling first day of the Natya Darshan.