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Profile : Jayant Kastuar
Issue : 297
Published on : June, 2009

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Special Feature : Kuchipudi � Tradition, Transition and transformation

NEWS & NOTES

Natyanjali-s galore
A spreading movement
- NANDINI RAMANI

Natyanjali, the tradition of concentrated expression of devotion to the Lord of Natya, through dance on the occasion of ‘Maha Sivaratri’ particularly inside the temple complex, was revived in Chidambaram in the early 1980s. It has gradually spread to many centres where ancient and important Siva temples are located, many with a ‘swayambhu lingam’ as the main deity. It seems each year, some new centre is joining the endeavour of organising a festival.

Perur (near Coimbatore), Kumba­konam, Tanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapatnam, Mayiladuturai aka Mayavaram, Tiruvanaikaval, Tiruvaiyaru – the list goes on. The additions this year are Pandanainallur and Sengalipuram.

This multiplier effect has had a multi-dimensional impact: revival of the traditional linkage of the art form with the temple, renewal of cultural activity in smaller towns and villages, opportunities to witness performances by reputed stars otherwise unaffordable, the scope for wider participation benefiting local talent and those not in the 'mainstream'. Click here to read more ...

COVER STORY

Tradition, transition and
transformation - S. JANAKI

What happens when a traditional art form is moved out of its context and projected on the urban proscenium before a suave audience not much in tune with its roots? Should it retain its robust and down to earth regional flavour or should it be "refined" and enabled to acquire a sophisticated sheen to cater to the tastes of national and international audiences? How much and what kind of change is permissible in an art form to prevent it from losing its identity? Who decides and who accepts? I am reminded of the seminar on 'Tradition, Transition and Transformation' in Kuchipudi organised last year by Saila Sudha on the eve of its 20th anniversary in Chennai. It was the first Kuchipudi seminar held in Chennai, probably in Tamil Nadu. All these questions which plague the rasika came to the fore as we listened to the deliberations and watched the presentations at the two-day confest. The questions continue to bother you.

The seminar did not directly address the above questions but the structure of the proceedings helped to highlight them. The inaugural session had the dignitaries and the convenor Sailaja (founder-director Saila Sudha) explaining evolving traditions, the history of Kuchipudi, and the role of pioneers like Siddhendra Yogi, Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastry, Vempati Chinna Satyam and trendsetters like Yamini Krishnamurti (keynote speaker).

Yamini said, "The three 'Ts' – tradition, transition and transformation – are integral to the creative arts, but one needs a lot of courage to bring about transformation." You concur as almost all the classical dance forms have gone through a phase of "reconstruction" (if we can call it that) necessitated by circumstances. The reconstruction has generally been brought about by a group of authoritative individuals which may have included practitioners, teachers, scholars, writers and patrons of the art. "For any art form, transition continues to happen, enriching the art, making it attractive for contemporary audiences," said Yamini. Vijayanthi Kashi put forth the view that changes were brought about in the performing arts through the imagination of great guru-s, their ability to shape presentations to current audiences without diluting the basic tenets. Click here to read more ...

SPOTLIGHT

At the helm of artistic affairs

Hailing from Jharkhand (previously part of Bihar) in eastern India, Jayant Kastuar has equipped himself with artistic, academic and administrative skills, to rise to the coveted post of secretary of the apex agency for the performing arts in the country – the central Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) in Delhi.

His brilliant academic record at St. Stephens, Delhi, his probing mind and passion for the arts made him opt for service in the central Sangeet Natak Akademi even while in his twenties. He has since proved to be a dynamic arts administrator. A well known disciple of the Kathak maestro Durga Lal of the Jaipur gharana, he has also served as director of Kathak Kendra.

Jayant Kastuar joined the dance department of the Akademi in 1984, and became deputy secretary, dance before being appointed secretary in 1999.

Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai, honoured this artist cum art administrator with the prestigious title of Nritya Choodamani during the December 'season'. Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh conferred on him the title of Nritya Siromani. Some excerpts from S. JANAKI’s recent conversation with JAYANT KASTUAR. Click here to read more ...

TRIBUTE

B. Rajam Iyer - A. KEERTHY GOVIND

B. Rajam Iyer was a well known Carnatic musician and scholar. Born on 1st July 1922, he had the good fortune, when he was only 15 years old, to be accepted as a disciple by Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar. His musical talents were shaped by Ariyakudi's influence. He provided musical accompaniment for his guru for many years. Another strong strand of the musical wealth acquired by Rajam Iyer was the corpus of Muthuswami Dikshitar’s kriti-s which he learnt from none other than T.L. Venkatarama Iyer, an expert on the subject.

Developing a keen interest in the theoretical and lakshana aspects of Carnatic music, Rajam Iyer served as Professor of Musicology in the Tamil Nadu Government College of Music from 1966 to 1981, and Principal of the Teacher's College of Music, affiliated to the Music Academy, from 1983 till his voluntary retirement. He was a co-editor of the Tamil version of Subbarama Dikshitar's Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini published by the Music Academy. An outstanding teacher, he undertook many lecture tours and conducted workshops in the U.K., U.S.A., and Canada. He also served as Valentine Visiting Professor at Amherst University in Massachussets, U.S.A. for the spring semester. Click here to read more ...

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