Kalakshetra’s 66th annual art festival opened with great fanfare on 20 December 2019, at the renovated Koothambalam rechristened as Bharatha Kalakshetra. The festival saw the familiar presence of the union government in the personage of Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State for Culture & Tourism, who apart from praising the institution founded by Rukmini Devi, promised governmental empathy in upgrading the academic diploma offered by Kalakshetra into a degree, a long-standing plea of the alumni. The festival, apart from showcasing the institution’s core repertoire of dance, also featured many music concerts by eminent musicians like S. Sowmya, a grand violin duet by Mysore Nagaraj and Manjunath, the ever-popular sisters Ranjani and Gayatri, a veena-bansuri jugalbandi by Nirmala Rajasekar and Ronu Majumdar, and a wonderful classical Hindustani recital by Sanjeev Abhayankar who was ably supported by Milind Kulkarni (harmonium) and Ajinkya Joshi (tabla).
The national seminar on the Natya Sastra organised by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), Bharata Ilango Foundation for Asian Culture (BIFAC) and Kalakshetra Foundation, from 1 to 3 December 2019, explored a gamut of topics on the two integral aspects of the Natya Sastra—sastra (textual) and prayoga (practical). The dignitaries at the conference included Sachchidanand Joshi, Member-Secretary, IGNCA, Shekhar Sen, Chairman, SNA, R. Nagaswamy (former Director, Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department), Padma Subrahmanyam, Managing Trustee, BIFAC, and Revathi Ramachandran, Director, Kalakshetra Foundation. Bharata’s Natya Sastra is the greatest treatise on dramaturgy, written around the second century BC. An encyclopedia of the multi-dimensional dramatic art, it traces the evolution from natyotpatti to natyavataranam in its chapters. Convener Padma Subrahmanyam had conceptualised this seminar as covering all the southern states across three categories of lectures, lecture-demonstrations, performances and seminar as Phase I, Dakshina Bhaag, of the Natya Sastra Seminar Series.
THYAGA BRAHMA GANA SABHA Vijay Siva’s concert at Vani Mahal was a grand exhibition of classicism. The Saveri kriti of Muthu Tandavar Ayyane nadanam adiya porpada is rarely heard on the concert platform. His scholarly alapana of Desi Simharavam for the Dikshitar kriti Hariyuvatim Haimavatim could serve as a learning point for youngsters. Another rare kriti rendered was Abhayambikayam anyam na jane (Kedaragaula). A ragam-tanam-pallavi in Sankarabharanam set to chatusra Jhampa tala was executed to perfection. The raga alapanas of violin accompanist Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi were highly reflective of her bani, and the melody complemented well the disciplined alapana of Vijay Siva. Bombay Balaji (mridangam) provided the necessary fillip to the concert with his right amplification and a variety of strokes.
Veteran R.S. Jayalakshmi is a respected vainika, teacher and musicologist. She was initiated into music when she was just six years old. Jayalakshmi used to observe her older sister in music class, and had a natural flair for repeating all the lessons that she heard! Realising her innate talent, her father, R. Subramanian Iyer, arranged to teach music to his younger daughter also. As he owned a store that sold musical instruments, both the sisters were initiated into learning instrumental music. As her sister played the violin, Jayalakshmi chose to learn the veena. Jayalakshmi’s first veena teacher was Muthiah, a staff at All India Radio. As managing class timings with a busy career became difficult for him, she moved on to learn from vidwan V. Raghavan (vocalist Sriram Parthasarathy’s grandfather). He began straight away with a varnam when she was perhaps only seven or eight years old. Jayalakshmi continued to learn vocal music along with her sister till the latter got married, after which Jayalakshmi started attending the vocal classes conducted at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha by Kittamani Iyer.
6 Sruti box
8 Birthday calendar
10 News & notes
16 Dance season and conferences
v Kalakshetra art festival
v Natya Kala Conference
v Natya Sastra Utsav
32 Music season
v Concerts at various venues
v Season potpourri
v Moving up the ladder
47 Class act v R.S. Jayalakshmi
53 Debate v To pay or not to pay
54 From the Editor
Front Cover: The dance season
photos courtesy: Sangeet Natak
Akademi, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha
Kartik Fine Arts and Akira Io