A week long
unique workshop on dance writing
read about the dance writing workshop a month ago in www.narthaki.com,
India's first online portal for dance, a brainchild of Anita Ratnam, the
globally well - known Chennai based dancer. Being a classical dancer and
a research scholar at Mysore University, with the thirst for knowledge
and writing, I was overwhelmed by the whole concept of 'Dance writing.'
The concept itself had such an influence on me; before registering myself
for the workshop, I did not even give a thought to the troubles of leaving
behind my family (including my 5 year old son) for 1 week at Mysore, quite
far away from Chennai.
Review of the workshop by Chethana Radhakrishna, Mysore featured at narthaki.com
When I arrived
at Anita Ratnam's house, I met ten other dancers from different States
who came to attend the workshop. When the sessions were started with eminent
critic Leela Venkataraman's talk, I was astonished to know that the workshop
was not only about dance writing but it covered the various important aspects
connected with dance - classical and contemporary.
It was thrilling
to interact closely with globally popular classical and contemporary dancers
through the workshop, which would have been impossible otherwise for an
upcoming dancer / teacher like me based in small places like Mysore or
Mandya. Through the interactions, we could know the work nature, choreography
methods and teaching techniques of not only those dancers whom we met in
the workshop, but also about other dancers from different corners of the
world, as the dancers we met shared their own experiences of working with
other dancers and their experiences with senior dancers and critics.
Dr.Padma Subrahmanyam where we had a very good interaction with her about
her productions and choreographies relevant to Natya Sastra. We even watched
some of her works through DVDs. We visited Kuchipudi dancer Sailaja, a
disciple of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam to view her demo on Kuchipudi. Bharatanatyam
dancer Vidhya Subramanian from USA, a disciple of Guru SK Rajaratnam, and
Meenakshi Chittaranjan, Chennai, a disciple of Guru Subbaraya Pillai visited
the workshop to give us information of the dance styles of their gurus,
making us understand the importance of traditional styles of the senior
dancers, much to our curiosity about contemporary dances, we had interesting
sessions with contemporary dancers, Hari Krishnan from Toronto and Chennai
based Padmini Chettur. We could not only watch their contemporary works
on DVD, but also satisfy our doubts and curiosity about contemporary dances.
Being classical dancers, we got our answers to the constantly evolving
questions about the term 'contemporary.'
Vishwanathan, disciple of Ramaiah Pillai, was with us to speak exclusively
on abhinaya and Priya Murle, disciple of Guru Sudharani Raghupathy, to
speak about nattuvangam. We discussed the topic 'Importance of male dancers
today' with young dancer Praveen Kumar from Bangalore, a disciple of Late
Guru Narmada and Guru CV Chandrashekar.
Viji Rao from
USA, who performed at Krishna Gana Sabha, came the very next day to the
workshop to speak about her production Prayog's theme of dance and mathematics.
We also had the privilege to watch dance performances at different venues
of Chennai everyday and write reviews of each program.
had an exclusive, quality time with experienced senior writer Vasanthi
Sankaranarayanan. Her talk not only made us aware of the nuances of writing,
but also the spiritual sense of classical forms. Leela Venkataraman and
Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan taught us the language of dance writing and the
limitations of use of the language to describe traditional words.
On the whole,
we had an unforgettable seven days workshop led by the sweet guidance of
Leela Venkataraman, with needful and helpful assistance of Lalitha Venkat.
Our grateful thanks to Anita Ratnam, who has been a pillar of support and
a great source of inspiration. She is not only a support and inspiration
to young dancers but also a super woman, who is making Indian classical
dance reach out globally through the web site www.narthaki.com. No wonder
Ashish Mohan Khokar mentioned in his 'attendance - the dance annual of
India 2000,' that "we need more Anita Ratnams to make Indian dance world
a more productive and less petty place."
dancer Chethana Radhakrishna is the director of Gurudev Academy of Fine
Arts, Mysore and Mandya.