On 24 March 2020, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the imposition of a 21-day lockdown, art and organising concerts were the last things on organisers’ minds. The immediate thoughts were hovering around the economics of providing salaries to the workforce and keeping the contracts and commitments with service providers and contractors. For sabhas, with their own auditoriums, it also meant cancellation of bookings already made and refund of the advances collected. Beating drums and plates and holding candles and torches from balconies and roof tops did not prevent the increase in the count of infected people and fatalities. We realised then that this was just not a 21-days cleansing process but we had to stay indoors for longer. To beat the monotony and boredom of being confined indoors, people swarmed to social media and soon there was a webinar for everything from building rockets to tackling rodents! Musicians and dancers were not far behind, they too organised webinars to reach audiences around the world from the comfort of their homes. This virtual explosion made us organisers webcast various programmes from our archives. But in a couple of months the webinar fatigue had also set in as the audience was craving for fresh new content.
Certain things in life, while they begin as a one-off activity, become a part of yourself and your life by design. That is what my annual visit to Tiruvaiyaru has become -- a design and strong pattern that shines through over three decades of my life. Winding up the Margazhi schedule is always a rush as the Pongal season of concerts then begin. Making a wedge and fitting in the Tiruvaiyaru pilgrimage has been a game of tic-tac-toe and always an exercise where I have to let go some invitations, work around the committed ones and ensure that come what may, I set my feet on the sands of this holy space by the banks of the serenely flowing Cauvery. And then once the Tyagaraja aradhana is over, it’s back to the grind and travel and performances!
Born on 20 December 1933 in Mumbai, Sunil Kothari qualified as a Chartered Accountant before turning to the study of Indian dance. His researches in Bhagavata Mela, Kuchipudi and Kuravanji earned for him a Ph.D. from the M.S. University, Vadodara in 1977. For his researches in the dance sculptures of medieval temples of north Gujarat, he was awarded a D. Litt. by Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata in 1986. He also took practical training in Bharatanatyam from natyacharyas T. Kuppaiah Pillai and Kalyanasundaram Pillai, and in Kathak from Badriprasad. Studying various dance forms and interacting with eminent gurus and artists, he served the cause of dance through his research works and writings. He has authored more than 20 books including Sattriya Dances of Assam, New Directions in Indian Dance, and also on Bharatanatayam, Odissi, Chhau, Kathak, Kuchipudi, and photo biographies of Uday Shankar and Rukmini Devi Arundale. He was a dance critic of the Times of India group of publications for 40 years. Sunil Kothari held the Uday Shankar Chair in Rabindra Bharati University, and he taught in the Dance Department of New York University as a Fulbright Professor. He served as a member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO and World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific. He was also a recipient of the Emeritus Fellowship of the Department of Culture, Government of India. Sunil Kothari received numerous titles and awards including the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1995); the Gaurav Puraskar conferred by the Gujarat Sangeet Natak Akademi (2000); the Padma Shri bestowed by the Government of India (2001); and the Life Time Achievement Award of the Dance Critics Association, New York, USA (2011); and was elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for his contribution to Indian dance as a scholar (2016). (Courtesy Sangeet Natak Akademi)
6 News & notes
12 Birthday calendar
14 Season 2020-21 (part 2)
v Yours Truly Margazhi
v Tiruvaiyaru Tyagaraja aradhana 2021
37 Talent showcase
v Masters of tomorrow
v Sunil Kothari
46 From the Editor
Front Cover: Season photos
Sudha Ragunathan, Vijay Siva,
Malavika Sarukkai, Priyadarsini Govind
Sriranjani Santhanagopalan, Ramana Balachandran, Vignesh Easwar