Kartik Fine Arts & Arangham Trust presented
Purush: The Global Dancing Male - Conference/Performance Conclave
December 18-22, 2013 Chennai

Building upon the incredible success of "Mad and Divine" (2011) and "Epic Women" (2012), Arangham Trust in association with Kartik Fine Arts is delighted to present yet another conference, "PURUSH: The Global Dancing Male" from December 20-22, 2013 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mylapore, Chennai. The pre-conference shows will be held at Alliance Francaise on Dec 18 & 19, 2013.

L Sabaretnam
Created and curated by Dr. Anita Ratnam (Artistic Director of Arangham Trust) and co-curated by Hari Krishnan (Professor of Dance, Wesleyan University, USA), PURUSH is a five-day festival, dedicated to explorations of the male dancer in India and the diaspora from classical traditions to contemporary manifestations, from hyper masculine aesthetics to female impersonation, from historical colonial modernity to twenty-first century global realities.

PURUSH is produced by Arangham Trust in co-operation with Kartik Fine Arts for their annual dance conference titled NATYA DARSHAN. Started in 2001 this stellar event has become the crucible for discussions, deliberations, presentations and lectures on dance and dance-led issues. Headed by Mr L Sabaretnam as Chairman, KFA is also one of the top three cultural organisations in Chennai, whose December dance festival features the best of classical dance from India and beyond.

Featuring powerful performances by established and emerging male dancers, PURUSH also includes discussions and panel presentations with leading scholars from the fields of dance history, cultural studies, and gender studies, interrogating the past, present and future of the Indian male dancer.

Major highlights of PURUSH include honoring Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj with the "Lifetime Achievement Award" instituted by Kartik Fine Arts, felicitating some of the leading male Bharatanatyam gurus of today and the world premieres of cutting-edge contemporary and classical solo and ensemble works specially commissioned for this conference.

PURUSH promises to be an inspired and explosive gathering of diverse artists and scholars and will speak to audiences interested in the male dancing body, history and the politics of gender.

Dr. Anita Ratnam

Hari Krishnan
Curator & Convener: Dr. Anita R Ratnam
Co-Curator & Academic Consultant: Prof. Hari Krishnan

PURUSH: The Global Dancing Male
- Dr. Anita Ratnam

Why PURUSH? I feel this is not even a question that needs asking but a subject that needs exploring and discussing. We presume that the world of dance means that women dance and men choreograph or teach. In India, men were the gurus and women were the dancers. Even today it is men who command more power and financial resources in the dance world with larger grants and more elaborate productions than women who are a majority as performers.

In 1995, I curated and directed an evening of classical dance called PURUSH - Dancer, Actor, Hero. The world was a very different place then. I had recently returned from the USA filled with ideas about marketing, media relations and professional approaches to dance after my 12 year experience in broadcast television in New York City. The two day event, held at the Alliance Francaise auditorium and at the Music Academy hall were sold out with cars parked as far away as Narada Gana Sabha and all along College Road and people sitting in the aisles. It was a triumph of content and a co-ordinated plan of media, visual communication and direction. It was exhausting.

The evening of classical dance toured the US to great success in the Fall of 1995 and the topic was kept alive with the clutch of male dancers and gurus who were so grateful for the "exposure" they were given in an ocean of female bodies on stage.

18 years later, the dance scene is even more heterogeneous. There are so many Indian (South Asian) men in dance and other aspects of performance and scholarship. Issues of sexuality are no longer taboo although the classical dance world is still reluctant to discuss these sensitive issues. Themes are bolder and the young performers and a new generation of teachers is having to relearn new methods of teaching and transmitting the tradition to an international clutch of students. Teaching via Skype is becoming common and students from Azerbaijan, Iceland and Buenos Aires continue to flock towards our shores to learn from male gurus.

Also with the proliferation and growing confidence of the NRI teacher who left India 30 years ago and who are now respected elders in their own cultural constituencies, a brash new generation of jean clad nayikas (Uttara Coorlawala's term) are occupying centre stage in arenas around the world, performing in denim, shorts, tank tops, sneakers, t-shirts and oodles of aplomb.

The 2013 conference is a culmination of a three year effort and perhaps, an 18 year old investigation about what it means TO DANCE. As a woman who has invested most of her life in the re-imaging of female icons on stage, I have always found that the proverbial VISHNU, KRISHNA, MURUGA and SIVA characters were not necessarily MALE but more 'qualities' that were embodied for public understanding within masculine images. Having said that, I have realised that today's male dancer in India is the busiest artiste in the dance world. They are constantly racking up air miles, flying from one city to another playing these male Gods or Demons for enthusiastic small town teachers.

Curating this conference along with my friend and collaborator of 18 years, Professor Hari Krishnan, has been a true adventure. Our dream plan has to be constantly tweaked, adjusted, altered, shelved, re-imagined and pushed every which way until we arrived at a template. This conference is the most ambitious ever. It is spread over 5 days, three venues and almost 100 artistes in attendance. On view will be radical physical theatre, traditional folk theatre, classical and contemporary dance from around India and the world. Keeping in mind the logistics and challenges of the auditoriums in Chennai during the annual December season, artistes, speakers and scholars have been invited, who could each contribute to the palimpsest called PURUSH- the global dancing male.

I cannot conclude without pondering on the role of dance and the relevance of the dancer in today's society where the daily assault upon all sense of decency seems almost de rigeur. What then is the value of art, of ideas and of imagination? Can it truly represent a shimmering horizon of hope and balance? Can a deeply held conviction keep us buoyant and eventually carry us home?

PURUSH is an ambitious culmination of my three year role as convenor, artistic director and curator of the annual Natya Darshan conference series. I am very grateful to L Sabaretnam, the dynamic chairman of Kartik Fine Arts, for inviting me and then supporting me completely to execute my vision. Following on the phenomenal success of MAD AND DIVINE WOMEN and EPIC WOMEN in 2011 and 2012, PURUSH should bring me full circle until I begin asking the questions all over again - like the spirals on a conch shell. What does it mean to invest in a life of dance?

View Slideshow

December 18 & 19, 2013
Alliance Francaise, College Road, Chennai
DEC 18 (Wednesday evening)
At Alliance Francaise
7.30pm: Adishakti presents VINAY KUMAR in THE TENTH HEAD (Ravana) - Theatre, Directed by Veenapani Chawla
Post performance discussion moderated by Dr. Anita Ratnam

DEC 19 (Thursday evening)
At Alliance Francaise
7.30pm: Adishakti presents NIMMY RAPHEL in NIDRAVATHWAM - Theatre
Post performance discussion moderated by Prof. Hari Krishnan

December 20 - 22, 2013
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, Chennai

DEC 20 (Friday morning)
10 am: PAVITHRA BHAT (Mumbai)
10.15am: Inauguration by Mr. L. SABARETNAM (Chairman of Kartik Fine Arts)
Welcome address by Dr. ANITA RATNAM (Founder-Artistic Director, Arangham Trust)
10.45am: Opening Address by LEELA VENKATARAMAN (Delhi) on 'Shrinking space for the male dancer' and DR. DEVDUTT PATTANAIK (Mumbai) on 'Comparing Nataraja and Natawar, the dance of Shiva and Vishnu'
11.30am: Coffee break
Panelists: DR. ANN R DAVID (UK), DR. SANDRA CHATTERJEE (Germany/Austria/India)
Moderator: Hari Krishnan

DEC 20 (evening)
5pm: PT NARENDRAN AND GROUP (Chennai) - Bharatanatyam
6.15pm: ASTAD DEBOO (Mumbai) presents DANCE EXPRESSION - Contemporary
7.30pm: RUDRAKSHYA DANCE ENSEMBLE (Bhubaneswar) - Odissi

DEC 21 (Saturday morning)
9.30am: Welcome address by Dr. ANITA RATNAM
9.40am: Gurus to be honored: Udupi Laxminarayan, K Kalyanasundaram, Adyar Lakshman, Herambanathan, CV Chandrasekhar, VP Dhananjayan, CK Balagopalan, A Janardhanan, MV Narasimhachari, Ramli Ibrahim, Dr. Sunil Kothari
10.40am: Coffee Break
11am: MALE MOVES (1910-2010) from the Khokar Dance Archives. Screening of short film featuring Uday Shankar, Ram Gopal, Nala Najan and Bhaskar Roy Choudury, introduced by ASHISH MOHAN KHOKAR (Bangalore), followed by Q & A
Panelists: B HERAMBANATHAN & H Hariharan (Tanjore), Dr. BM SUNDARAM & K Shanmugha Sundaram (Vazhuvoor), CV CHANDRASEKHAR & P Praveen Kumar (Kalakshetra)
Moderators: Dr. BM Sundaram & Prof. Hari Krishnan

DEC 21 (evening)
5pm: NAVTEJ JOHAR and SUDEEP KUMAR (Delhi) present DRAVYA KAYA - Contemporary Bharatanatyam
6pm: EMERGING DANCERS featuring KALAMANDALAM SURESH KALIYATH (Pondicherry) - Ottanthullal, SINAM BASU SINGH (Manipur) - Manipuri, ANUJ MISHRA (Lucknow) - Kathak, PASUMARTHI MRUTHYUMJAYA SARMA (Hyderabad) - Kuchipudi
7.30pm: A LAKSHMANASWAMY (Chennai) - Bharatanatyam

At Nageswara Rao Park
7.30pm: Thudumbattam
8pm - 10pm: DRAUPADI VASTHIRAPARANAM, Therukoothu by Purisai Doraiswamy Kannappa Thambiran Paramparai Therukoothu Manram

DEC 22 (Sunday morning)
9.45am: Welcome address by Dr. ANITA RATNAM
10am: TRIBHUVAN MAHARAJ, grandson of Birju Maharaj (Kathak)
10.15 am: Conferring LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD on Kathak Guru Birju Maharaj (Delhi)
11.30am: Coffee Break
11.45am: Vote of thanks by Mr. Sabaretnam and Dr. Anita Ratnam
Panelists: RAMLI IBRAHIM (Malaysia), JAY PATHER (South Africa), SOORAJ SUBRAMANIAM (Belgium)
Moderator: Hari Krishnan
1pm: Closing remarks by RUSTOM BHARUCHA (Kolkata)

DEC 22 (evening)
5pm: The India premiere of UMA choreographed by Hari Krishnan, performed by N SRIKANTH. Also featuring Apsara Reddy
5.30pm: PARSHWANATH UPADHYE (Bangalore) presents PURUSHAARDHAM: THE MALE HALF - Bharatanatyam
6.15pm: KALA KRISHNA and group (Hyderabad) - Perini Thandavam and NAVAJANARDANA PARIJATHAM in Andhra Natyam
7.30pm: PT. BIRJU MAHARAJ (Delhi) presents BAITHAK BHAV - Kathak

Program subject to change

Morning sessions are free, evening shows are ticketed
Therukoothu performance is free

Valet parking will be available at venue in the evenings.
For tickets, please contact Kartik Fine Arts: 24997788 / 90948 29675

For info: 2013.purush@gmail.com

Kathak maestro Pt Birju Maharaj will be honored with the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD instituted by Kartik Fine Arts on the morning of Dec 22, 2013.

The 75 year old maestro is the winner of the National Award for Best Choreography at the 60th National Film Awards this year for choreographing the song Unnai Kaanadhu Naan, which features Kamal Haasan performing Kathak in his multilingual film 'Vishwaroopam.' Snippets of Birju Maharaj's work on stage and film, including dance scene from Viswaroopam will be screened. He would be performing ABHINAYA to THUMRIS for the award presentation.

Master of Arts by Tulsi Badrinath
TV coverage of the book launch of Tulsi Badrinath's latest book 'Master of Arts- A life in Dance' at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on April 24, 2013. This narrative non-fiction about male dancers and the world of Indian classical dance is published by Hachette India. The launch featured performances by VP Dhananjayan, Tulsi Badrinath and the Bharata Kalanjali troupe.


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