Garba and Dandiya Raas @ Lok Utsav: Ecstatically Meditative

Lok Utsav celebrates the folk forms, especially dances of India. It conducts month long classes for Garba and Dandiya in the month preceding Dusshera!

This series of videos are from the final dance evenings coinciding with Dusshera! Every serious dancer gets lost in a state of ecstatic meditation, inexplicable, indescribable. I made sure I am lost 2-3 hours every day in such an exalted state!!

Garba is a form of dance which originated in the state of Gujarat in India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term Garbha and Deep. Many traditional garbas are performed around centrally lit lamp or a picture or an idol of the Goddess Shakti.

Here are my captures… enjoy!  Every video is in 4K HD and I have uploaded all on youtube. Usually, each of the videos will play in low resolution, where in you do not get high clarity. But you will find the settings button (the wheel) on the video when you click on it. Click on the settings button and change the quality to HD resolution (1080p60) so as to watch with highest clarity.

Our heart felt thanks to all our Gurujis who patiently and passionately invested in each one of us during this month long classes.

With great sadness we pay our rich tributes to the most senior guru ji Sri Sudesh Shikari ji, who left on his journey to heavenly abode on the first day of our final performances.

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Ah, I failed to mention, every evening I had a bonus too – over 1200 calories spent! Now that the month long classes are over, I am sure most of the dancers will find the evenings vacuous !  I will surely find another dance class soon to take its place !! 🙂

Our humble thanks to all the organizers, Sandeep and Abhishek to start with, and all the dancers who made it a memorable month. Catch you all, my fellow dancers, very soon!

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SPANDAN – World Dance Evening 2017

The Spandan-World Dance Evening at the India Habitat Centre the same evening, was the enthusiastic culmination of  a month long Festival of the Performing Arts and an ambitious exhibition of dance photographs, curated by R Sreenivasan in the open spaces of the Habitat World on the occasion of the World Dance Day. 

 Celebrating the infinite potential in umpteen varieties of dance forms, Spandan showcased a spectacular melange of dance forms from Indian classical dances like Odissi by Arushi Mudgal, Bharatanatyam by Suhail Bhan and Kathak by Irina from Russia to contemporary dance by Neha Sharma of Sadhya, Jazz by Danceworx, Hip-Hop by the Quake Crew, Flow Art by Eshna Kutty, Tajik dance by Naseeba from Tajikistan and a mesmerising Folk Fusion by Nitisha Nanda from Banjara. The over-packed Stein Auditorium resounded with thunderous applause at the end of this extravaganza of dance, conceived by R Srinivasan of Spandan, created by Indira Ganesh and anchored by their 13-year-old talented daughter Mallika. 

Here is the coverage of the evening on the Rajya Sabha TV…

Cultural resonance – Manjari Sinha ji covers SPANDAN in her Statesman column

Manjari Sinha
| 02 June, 2016

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The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) celebrated Africa Day on 26 May at the Azad Bhavan Auditorium. The theme India-Africa: Bound Together highlighted Africa’s diversity, success, economic potential and cultural resonance with India. The celebration comprised a panel discussion, a week-long exhibition of African costumes, paintings and artefacts, a food festival of Afican cuisine and a cultural programme.

The cultural programme opened with lively songs by the Capital City Minstrels, New Delhi, but the talented troupe from the Kingdom of Lesotho stole the show with the multi-talented African ensemble Likakapa Africa, which literally means The Legends or Crème de la crème. The lively performances by the renowned ensemble were a blend of Famo Music, Afro-Jazz, Hip Hop; that established an instant rapport with the audience. Unable to resist the vibrant rhythm and the contagious zest of the African music and dance, many were seen whistling and dancing in front of the stage.

Likakapa had two major Famo artists Rabots’o le Semanyane and Lebohang Lets’ohla, who led most of the songs backed by Tom Rakoti, the Afro-Jazz artist, and Molibeli Mokake who was both a Hip-Hop performer and a Rapper. The ensemble presented the unique stylistic music and dance, commonly seen in the streets of major towns and villages of Lesotho.

The Spandan-World Dance Evening at the India Habitat Centre the same evening, was the enthusiastic culmination of  a month long Festival of the Performing Arts and an ambitious exhibition of dance photographs, curated by R Srinivasan in the open spaces of the Habitat World on the occasion of the World Dance Day. 

 Celebrating the infinite potential in umpteen varieties of dance forms, Spandan showcased a spectacular melange of dance forms from Indian classical dances like Odissi by Arushi Mudgal, Bharatanatyam by Suhail Bhan and Kathak by Irina from Russia to contemporary dance by Neha Sharma of Sadhya, Jazz by Danceworx, Hip-Hop by the Quake Crew, Flow Art by Eshna Kutty, Tajik dance by Naseeba from Tajikistan and a mesmerising Folk Fusion by Nitisha Nanda from Banjara. The over-packed Stein Auditorium resounded with thunderous applause at the end of this extravaganza of dance, conceived by R Srinivasan of Spandan, created by Indira Ganesh and anchored by their 13-year-old talented daughter Mallika. 

Humkadam-2016 by Rachana Yadav Kathak Studio.

Rachana Yadav Kathak Studio presented Navagraha for their annual event Humkadam-2016, at the Epicentre. Based on the Hindu astrological science that says the nine celestial bodies, or Navagrahas, affect our character with their typical characteristics, when close to us, Rachana most imaginatively conceived and choreographed Navagraha, incorporating the entire repertoire of Kathak  through different groups of students portraying different Grahas, according to the characteristics of these Grahas matching the maturity or the age group of her students.

Opening with Navagraha Stuti, an ode to the nine celestial bodies, the programme started with the youngest age group, the twinkling stars, in “Jagmag deep jale…” with the basic Hastakas and simple Tode Tukde based on Sargam.

Navagraha took off with Brihaspati, the Graha for knowledge and longevity, with Guru Vandana. Venus, that stands for the feminine grace, was presented next, by a young adult batch dressed like delicate “Abhisarika Nayikas” on Shyam Kalyan Bandish “Sundar sej sanvar ke…”, interspersed with  Aamad, Tode, Tukde, Parans and Chakkardars…et al.

Mercury was depicted with Sargams in Raga Yaman; Mangal Graha had Krishna Arjun Samvad with the dancers dressed in the energetic colour red; the Shani or Saturn had the impressive Malkauns Tarana; and Rahu-Ketu portrayed by twin sisters was applauded for their remarkable pirouettes. Surya and Chandra, the climax, were danced respectively by Rachna’s senior-most students. Surya had Pramelu, Paran and the impressive foot-work in the challenging Tala Dhamaar and Chandra was depicted through a Ghazal “Pighal raha hai Chaand…”, as an Abhinaya piece, completing Kathak in its entirety.  Rachana’s imaginative choreography was enhanced with the most appropriate music composed by Samiullah Khan.

Read more at http://www.thestatesman.com/news/voices/cultural-resonance/145968.html#xLvFAqpXhAYqO079.99

HT City – Spandan: Celebration of performing arts to end with world dance evening

  • Nikita Saxena, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |

  • Updated: May 25, 2016 19:59 IST

I am just pasting this article from the HT CITY website…SPANDAN in HT CITY

Suhail Bhan, a Bharatnatyam dancer, during performance.

Get ready for an evening of dance as Spandan — the month-long photo exhibition and dance festival in the Capital culminates with the World Dance Evening.

The event, which celebrates performing arts, aims at encouraging young talent. Talking about the event, R. Sreenivasan, the founder, says, “Spandan is all about enabling youngsters to realise their potential to make their dreams come true. While this year’s theme is celebration of iconic institutions, gurus and artists who help individuals to realise their talent and contribute to the field of arts, world dance evening celebrates the future of an artist.”

Some of the artists performing at the evening will include Arushi Mudgal — an Odissi dancer, Suhail Bhan — a Bharatnatyam dancer, Irina Biryukova — a Russian Kathak dancer and Nitisha Nanda — an Odissi danseuse and belly dancer.

Suhail Bhan, on his performance, says, “I will start with Pushpanjali, which is an offering of flowers, followed by Ashtapati that portrays Jai Deva Rasleela of Krishna, Radha and his Gopis. My last piece will be based on Raga Mandari. There aren’t enough people who encourage art and culture. This event contributes a lot in that way.”

Irina Biryukova, a Kathak dancer from Russia, will present a solo performance at the event.

International dancers performing on Indian classical dance forms will be another highlight. Irina Biryukova, Kathak dancer from Russia, says, “One of my performance is solo, while in another, I am performing with Nasiba Miravazkhonova, who is from Tadjikistan.” Nitisha Nanda, who will be presenting a folk fusion act, says, “I have been associated with Spandan since 2013. My show will be a fusion of different Indian dance forms.”

Danseuse Nitisha Nanda will present a fusion of folk, Odissi and belly dancing.

Nitisha Nanda, who will be presenting a folk fusion act, says, “I have been associated with Spandan since 2013. This is a very intriguing concept that involves a mélange of different dance styles. My performance will be an interesting fusion of folk dance, Odissi, there will be a tinge of Rajasthani and Gujarati dance, and belly dancing.”

Iconic institutions and movements come alive at SPANDAN 2016!

If you are interested in performing arts, especially dance, and if you have not been to the exhibition currently underway in the open spaces of IHC, Lodhi Road, then you are missing something! You cannot afford to give this exhibition a go by. It inspires even the uninitiated.

SPANDAN Festival of Performing Arts 2016 brings yet again an eclectic collection of fabulous captures of Indian classical dance forms, but with a difference. The theme of this year’s exhibition is, “Tribute to Iconic Institutions, Movements and Legendary Gurus”. You get a peek into the journey of the iconic institutions and the life within. Many photographs have been displayed publicly for the first time ever in the history of these institutions.

Exhibition @ SPANDAN festival of performing arts 2016 - Nartanam special issues released

R. Sreenivasan, the creator of the festival, which is into its fourth edition, too is one of a kind. How many technologists and alumnus of IIM and that too, a well known entrepreneur, do you come across excelling in the world of arts? Sreeni, a co-founder of CL Educate, while being busy in the corporate board rooms as well as traveling around the country motivating the youth in the universities, feeds his soul in the spaces of performing arts in the evenings. He is an accomplished photographer of dance apart from being a dancer, painter and designer.

For this year’s edition of Spandan, Sreeni digs deep into the archives of the Iconic institutions and photographers to bolster his own exclusive captures. The institutions covered are –

a. Kathak Kendra for Kathak (Thanks to Sangeet Natak Akademi)
b. Kalamandalam for Mohiniattam,Kathakali,Koodiyattam (Thanks to KK Gopalakrishnan)
c. Kalakshertra for Bharatanatyam (Thanks to Kalkshetra Archives)
d. Gotipua gurukuls and Srjan for Odissi (Thanks to Sunny Lamba and Srjan)
e. Kuchipudi Village for Kuchipudi (Thanks to Nartanam and Madhavi Puranam)
f. Sattras of Majuli for Sattriya (Thanks to Avinash Pasricha ji and Sunny Lamba)
g. JN Manipur Dance Academy (Thanks to SNA and JNMDA)

Exhibition @ SPANDAN festival of performing arts 2016 - Nartanam special issues released

Every institution comes alive in the exhibition, with a vibrancy that these photographs have managed to capture. It is a treat to the soul.

Also the exhibition pays tribute to the movement of SPICMACAY for its yeoman service with panels of nation’s stalwarts of Music, Dance, Theatre, Puppetry, Folk etc and the volunteers who contribute to keep the flame of culture alive. The frames portray the spirit of facilitating the children to discover the mysticism embedded within every art form.

“SPANDAN venerates the human spirit, stoking pursuits to unravel the infinite potential within.”

As tribute to Legends, special issues Nartanam on Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Dr. Padma Subrahmaniam and Sri Avinash Pasricha will be released on May 2nd, 7 pm at Amaltas Hall, India Habitat Centre, by Prof. Lokesh Chandra, scholar and President ICCR. Noted danseuse Rama Vaidyanathan with her Bharatanatyam pays tributes to the legends.

The festival culminates with an evening of World Dance on May 26th in Stein Auditorium. While the exhibition is all about celebrating the icons and legends, the dance evening is about celebrating the future. The evening will feature brilliant young Odissi danseuse Arushi Mudgal, promising young male Bharatanatyam dancer Suhail Bhan, a talented Manipuri duo and a mélange of modern world dance forms all performed by young upcoming dancers.

The exhibition is on till May 10th. You can catch up with Sreeni at the venue.

Bhamakalapam – Ajay Kumar stole the show

In Hyderabad, through the childhood, we have been brought up with the music of Late Sri Ghantashala lilting in our ears every morning, and the character of ‘Sathyabhama’ and her ‘natkat pan’ vis-à-vis Krishna was part of the folklore diet.

When I heard of ‘Bhamakalapam’ as the theme of the dance this evening, I had to go. It was interesting because of the Jugalbandi format – two characters in two different dance forms – Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi; added to it enchanting ‘Satyabhama’ was portrayed by a male !! What more you could ask for.

The Performance, with two different dance forms juxtaposed against each other, with their own movements and the bhava, was aesthetically evocative. Ajay Kumar, the Kuchipudi dancer from Vijayawada, portrayed the ever-green character of Satyabhama, while the Bharatanatya exponent Sathyanarayana Raju from Bangaluru was the Krishna. The performance was part of the festival Samvaad, organized by Ms. USha R K, an eminent art consultant, at the Deshmukh Auditorium with active support of India International Centre.

Bhamakalapam - Sayanarayana Raju, Ajay Kumar 183

The seasoned exponents did make the evening very lively. Especially Ajay, the Satyabhama, trained in Kuchipudi from a tender age of four, has mastered the art of portraying ‘Stree Vesha’. He stole the show under the nose of more experienced and better known Satyanarayana Raju; more so because of portraying a woman,Satyabhama, I suppose. Audience had their eyes more on Satyabhama! Ajay was performing in Delhi for the very first time, while I have captured Satyanarayana Raju quite a few times in the past.

I am sure, no one, who walked in after the initial announcement, would have made out that the Satyabhama character was being portrayed by a male. The grace with which Ajay flourished on the stage was fabulous. Ajay, from the very entry, draped in a cream and red sari in the garb of Satyabhama, was captivating. His movement, gestures, expressions brought out the best of the female traits and personality. Only give away, for a very keen eye, would have been the body structure of a male vis-a-vis female.

Bhamakalapam - Sayanarayana Raju, Ajay Kumar 256

The Abhinaya – Satyabhama’s character of being haughty, the tiffs with the lord Krishna, the pangs of separation – flowed effortlessly from Ajay. Ajay has mastered the soft, gentle and fluid feminine movements too. It was compelling. It was Ajay’s show all the way; Raju, true to the character of Krishna vis-a-vis Satyabhama, looked like a mere spectator. He also let it be, in true spirit of the characters, I must say. Of course without Raju’s Krishna, Satyabhama would not have been as effective!

Looking forward to watch more of Ajay in the future; and love to see him mentor more disciples who will not let this art-form a thing of past.

Source: Bhamakalapam – Ajay Kumar stole the show

Passion and Perseverance – Dancing is a yet another form of meditation and more…..(here Garba / Dandiya of LOK UTSAV)

Every art form, whether performing arts and fine arts, enriches the soul. It is a completely different feeling when I am immersed completely into each. It is a form of meditation, in-explicable! Each one takes me to a space of consciously unconscious and unconsciously conscious! I invest a few hours every week to reach this space.

Yes, though every week I make it point to be a rasik immersing myself and capturing the soulful performances – music, dance, theatre etc – of eminent and young performers, the intense loss of self happens when I do it myself. It is a complete surrender! Come to think of it, this feeling also happens when I am intensely involved in a sport, like swimming, where I surrender myself to the process and the medium.

Every year, during the month preceding Dussherra, we get a great opportunity as a family, to participate and learn Garba / Dandiya. This is possible only due to the amazing purpose and spirit of LOK UTSAV, a movement that aims at treasuring the folk art forms of the country. These classes are held at SARDAR PATEL VIDYALAYA, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi and at a couple of other locations in Delhi.

Last week, Mr. Sandeep Dikshit, the force behind LOK UTSAV, insisted on my staying back for a while after the classes, as NDTV was to come to cover the classes as part their programme, ‘India matters’. The NDTV team surprised me by interviewing me for about 15-20 minutes on various aspects of dance, my interest in dance, my body of work including SPANDAN, annual world dance photography exhibition that I organize at IHC, Delhi and this specific workshop on Garba/Dhandiya.

Here is a short clip that NDTV incorporated from that interview of mine in their program :

I humbly pay my sincere gratitude to every dancer and guru at the Garba/Dandiya classes who have immensely contributed to what I experience in my daily meditation.

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