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« Surprise! Ron Paul Stands Up for the First Amendment! (Norman Costa) | Main | Suppose he's not guilty (prasad) »

December 15, 2010


I last saw Madhavi and her students dance at a charity event organised by the alumni association of the school. I also remember the times when I saw her practicing kathak with her guruji the late Pandit Durga Lal.Try making it to her show in March.

I know very little of Odissi, beyond watching the occasional performance on Doordarshan when they still had the good concerts and dances and were overcome by the flurry of film based programming that is the staple of the airwaves these days. I have watched Sanjukta Panigrahi, but not seen Madhavi Mudgal's performances. The amount of work that goes into every graceful, elongated movement is amazing-even if I find the lack of speedy footwork a little cloying, after a while, probably because I'm more accustomed to the faster pacing and showy footwork in Bharatanatyam.
In this video, Madhavi is performing side by side with Alarmel Valli- the differences between styles are well delineated. But what stands out is Madhavi's inner focus.The audience is incidental to the performance. Alarmel Valli's is a more extroverted, audience-conscious performance, and while it pleases directly, doesn't have the same clean lines and serenity as Madhavi's movements.

Perhaps you were too young at the time but during my middle and high school years, the dance part of any cultural function always included Manipuri or Bengali folk dance based group performances under the guidance of Mr. Sinha, the music teacher and a Kathak piece by the trio of Madhavi, Raka Chakravarty and Asha Sarin. The latter three were all students at the Gandharva Mahavidyalay and they composed and choreographed their own numbers usually led by Madhavi.

I had also found the video of the duet of Madhavi and Alarmel Valli. Beautiful. But I didn't post it because the clip is just about 20 seconds long. It is interesting that you brought up Sanjukta Panigrahi whose amazing grace and talent played a part in a very personal choice in my life. I had planned to name my daughter "Aditi" initially. But after I saw a performance by Panigrahi, I picked Sanjukta partly because of the danseuse's charm and also, because of the name's meaning - "integration."

How moving and lovely, Ruchira. A grand reunion for you all -- I can just imagine the emotions of which you did not speak. I got a glimpse of classical Indian dance as my friend Lakshmi's daughter, Sonali, studied it for 9 years, giving an Arangetram at the end, the spring before she went off to Yale. I understood that the Arangetram was both the culmination of the first phase of study, and the beginning, if the dancer chose it, of professional involvement accompanied by a lifetime of intensive study. In Sonali's case, it was the final performance -- she was bound for physics not for dance, but an astonishing dancer who gave form to aspects of dance I had never known about, despite slight acquaintance through clips. Her guru had written an essay to help the 1200 people in the audience, mainly friends and family, understand what was going on in the program in some detail. Little did we know that Lakshmi had been taking time from her business as a statistician for studying dance during those 9 years, too -- she wanted this to the the mother-daughter thing she and Sonali would have forever, not to mention the deep connection to India that it helped to maintain. It was an immersion for an afternoon in an infinitely unfolding aesthetic, and a celebration of a unique mother-daughter bond.

How I wish I could get to DC in March! Just three days ago I made a purchase at a local record store of an assortment of Indian musical recitals, both Hindustani and Carnatic. And now this introduction to dance and one of its splendid proponents! Thank you, Ruchira.

I usually get to see a couple of arangetrams (only Bharatanatyam), since that is the main Indian dance form here in the Pittsburgh area. We get only occasional glimpses of other classical dance forms, though there are schools dedicated to Kathak, folk dances. My daughter attends one where folk and Nabanritya are taught as well, with workshops on Chau, Manipuri in the recent years. My daughter is enlisted in the Bharatanatyam classes, but is exposed to other types of dance as well, which might make for a purist complaining that one ends up being a Jack/Jill of all trades and master of none, but we aren't that addicted to purity over the fun factor.
Of the last couple of Arangetrams that I saw, the first was remarkable for the purist tack- the teacher doesn't allow much stage exposure for her pre-Arangetram students, which can result in interesting 'first performances'. She was a good dancer, but the nervousness shone through. The last one was by a girl used to being on stage, having danced in any number of dance productions. A 'freshness' factor may have been lacking, but she tackled more complicated pieces with an inner focus on the dance and inattention to audience that was very impressive. I think I enjoyed the second more than the first.

The style of dance is literally statuesque-- like watching a statue come to life. Very elegant. And Madhavi has such a engagingly expressive face. Thank you for this interesting post on something about which I confess I know absolutely nothing. It sounds like you had an enjoyable and rewarding trip.

Wow, sounds like an amazing trip. I will definitely make a note to learn more about Odissi.

can well imagine the scene in the restaurant. and i have known that it gives a strange feeling of confidence and a sense of reassurance in the goodness of human nature when a friend who has grown into a celebrity is still the same old friend!

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