Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dance: Eka-Tatva promo.wmv

An amazing production featuring three of my most loved dancers. Three individuals with their very distinct style of dancing yet when they come together in this production we see oneness in their dance. The promo is so touching and amazing that i can't wait to see the whole show. Hope to see them perform in USA soon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pt. Bhimsen Joshi - February 4, 1922 - January 24, 2011

We pay tribute to the great legend of Indian Classical Music Pt Bhimsen Joshiji. He passed away on the 24Th of Jan 2011 in Pune.Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi , belonged to the Kirana gharan of Hindustani classical music tradition. His music has been enthralling audience all around the world. He was conferred with the highest civilian honor by the Government Of India , "The Bharat Ratna". Over the decades Panditji had developed his own style after assimilating various elements from different musical style. He will continue to live in the hearts of his fans through his music.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prathamesh Laghate - He surranno chandra....

The young artist singing in this video is Prathamesh Laghate. I am amazed at the talent of this boy. This is a difficult composition by Pt Jitendra Abhishekhiji. Prathamesh does amazing job of singing this composition. Its warms my heart to see this dedication towards classical singing at such young age. Even though his voice is gods gift he has taken lot of effort to polish this talent and its clearly seen when he sings. I wish more and more children and parents take efforts to pursue our rich dance and music tradition.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Importance of Decoration (Natya Shastra)

All   women around the world would agree with Bharat Muni over the importance of   wearing right accessories with the right outfit for the right occasion. The pointers giving in Natya Shastra for use of decoration or accessories in a production are very much reflection of what accessories people used in real life based on their social status and region. The Decorations as they are called in Natya Shastra are categorized in three parts:
1.        Garlands
2.        Ornaments
3.        Drapery

The Garlands: The Garlands are further categorized in to five kinds, encircling or vestita, spread up or vitata, grouped or sambhatya, knotted or granthima and hung down or pralambita. Even today on festive occasions we can see women adorning  their hair with garlands  in fact no Indian bridal make-up is complete without a Gajara (knotted or hung down garland) or Veni (grouped type of garland).

Ornaments: Ornaments play a very important role in completing the look of a character a performer is representing. For example if the performer is portraying a noble character, his or her ornaments will be more elaborate and  made to look like gold or precious jewels while if the character played is that of an ascetic then the ornaments will be toned down like a simple necklace of  prayer  beads. Ornaments are categorized into to four types
1.        Piercing ornaments (avedhya) include ear ornaments such as ear-ring (kundala), ear pendant (mocaka), and ear top.
2.        Tied-up ornaments (bandhaniya) consist of girdles (sroni-sutra) and arm-band (angada).
3.        Ornaments to be worn (praksepya) consist of ornaments like anklets and apparels.
4.        Ornaments to be put around (aropya) consist of ornaments like neck chain, necklaces and waist ornaments.

Natya Shastra has further elaboration on what ornaments should be worn by men and women. The ornaments categorized for men  consists of head gear like a crown or crest-jewel, ear ornaments, neck ornaments, finger ornaments like kataka , ornaments for forearm like valaya, wrist ornament like bracelet, ornaments to be worn above the elbow like armlet, breast ornaments like three stringed necklace, waist ornaments like sutra. For ornaments categorized for women are  pearl net for head ornaments,tilaka for forehead, karnika or the sikhipatra which is the lotus shaped ornament worn in the braid, pearl or gold necklace for the neck, arm and finger, ornaments like bangles and armband and hip ornament like the Kalapa, anklets and toe rings. Natya Shastra however warns against the over use of ornaments on a performer which could lead to fatigue while making prolonged movements. Thus the use of lac instead of pure gold to make ornaments for production is encouraged.

Drapery: Costumes help to distinguish between the characters in the production example Yaksa or apsarasas are to be dressed with more elaborate and bright costumes and jeweled ornaments while performer who plays the role of women whose lover has gone abroad should be in white and they should not have many ornaments. Thus the dresses of women or man should be according to their habitation and condition.

Though these rules might sound too difficult to follow we see wide adherence to these rules of decoration in modern productions and plays even today. Like in a Russian Ballet the dancer playing the darker character will always be dressed in black while white is worn to show the purity and good character played by the dancer. If we look at afro dances we see that they use costumes made of more earthy tones and animal print, draped in such a way that it would allow the dancers more freedom for their vigorous movements. Stay tuned tomorrow for the next chapter in this series on importance of make-up and costumes as stated in Natya Shastra.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Importance of Model Work (Natya Shastra)

In Natya Shastra we see great emphasis laid on the rules of the costumes and make-up (nepathya). The performers and dancers use costume and makeup along with gestures to complete their representation of the characters they portray. Though Indian dance and dance drama productions laid greater importance on expressional and gestural acting by the performers to convey the situations within the productions. For example ‘ Lord Ram hunting for the golden deer’ in the epic Ramayan was indicated by the dancer or actor portraying lord Ram using hand gestures and body stances to convey the hunting . Though the limitation of realism was realized by the ancient Indian theater, use of Model work was not completely rules out. Today we will take look at the first kind of costume and makeup as indicated by Bharat Muni ‘Model Work’ (pusta).

Model Work (pusta) is further divided into three types -

1. The Joined Object (sandhima): These consist of cutouts made up of mat, cloth, skin and the like. We see the use of the joined object even in today’s modern production. In fact we see extensive use of sets in larger than life productions of Indian classical dance in modern era. As seen in the clip below, the use of Sandhima in the production of ‘Maya Ravana’ by Kalarpana.

2. The Indicating Object (Vyuima): These consist of model work which is made by means of mechanical device. In today’s modern time, the use of projection screens as a backdrop can be classified under the indicating object. Often the screens are used to project colors and pictures for dramatic effect during a dance production. I saw beautiful use of this being made in the dance production ‘Dawn of Indian’ by Kathak guru Smt Uma Dogra.

3. The Moving Object (cestima): These consist of the model work which can be made to move. It can consist of wrappings on a framework.

We thus see how developed the Ancient dance and drama theater productions were. We even find this rules still widely used in today’s productions. In fact we see this rule of ‘Model Work’ universally applied in many dance productions around the world in some form or other. Stay tuned for the next chapter in this series based on Decorations.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Importance of Costume and Makeup

Costume and makeup form a very important aspect of any form of dance and dance dramas. The performers often use costumes and makeup as a way to make their characters clear to the audience, for example Kathakali dancers use elaborate makeup to intensify their different characters. There are three types of “Tadi” or beards used by the Kathakali dancers. The ‘Red Tadi’ is used to portray fierce characters and demons, the ‘White Tadi’ portrays good characters and the ‘Black Tadi’ portrays huntsmen and forest dwellers. While portraying a female character the dancer paints his face in pinkish-yellow paint and the lips are painted red. The eyelashes and eyebrows are also painted black so that they look enlarged. This is known as ‘Minuku’ makeup. In each classical and folk dance style in India the costumes are elaborate and made in a manner to make the dance movements look graceful. Infact in ‘Natya Shastra, the encyclopedia of Indian dance and theater, Bharat Muni has given pointers as to how the costumes and makeup should be for a production. He elaborates further by stating that there are four kinds of costumes and makeup; model work, decoration, painting of limbs and living creatures. Due to the expansive nature of this topic we will be going over the pointers given by Bharat Muni in series format. So check back tomorrow as we explore the concept of ‘Model Work’ as explained by Bharatmuni and its application in the modern concept.

References taken from 'NatyaShastra' ascribed to Bharat-Muni.