Bharat Kalachar’s titles. Anita Sivaraman. Anitha. Bharatanatyam. Bharata natyam.Bharatnatyam. Bharathanatyam . Classical Indian dance and dancers in Chennai. Bharatanrityam

Bharat Kalachar

(this is related to our post on Anita Sivaraman)
Remark: I don’t know why dancers post on YouTube the worst or most boring fragments from their recitals!

If you attended Anita Sivaraman’s recital at Bharat Kalachar, you would understand that she is a “perfected” and refined form of Swathy Ashok, if we can say so. This time her abhinaya was indeed more profound, and evoked the vivid images of the stories. I think that this vividness comes from the colourful and lively techniques of Kuchipudi and Srikanth’s style of Bharatanatyam that she learnt. Which is one of the main reasons Savithri Jagannatha Rao and Radha did not like it (as well as the presence of karanas) at the Cleveland competition.

Anita Sivaraman

Anita Sivaraman

It is not just a matter of style but a matter of how expressive your face is. Anita’s face can produce thousands of nuances of fast-changing expressions and as many degrees of intensity and saturation. If your palette is not rich…. Set your monitor to 256 colour palette and open your own photo. Will you like it? No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o…

If you know another dancer of Anita’s age who has personally choreographed all of her items, let me know: I will be surprised. In her choreographic genius, Anita manages to squeeze up to 5 times more detail in the same passage than an average Bharatanatyam dancer in Chennai.Drink the 100% orange juice, and then drink a 20% (diluted) orange juice that is available in most shops in Chennai.Or Delhi. Priya Venkatraman’s recital (a very good one, by the way) felt quite insipid – after watching Anita’s.

The elaborate richness of Anitha Sivaraman’s abhinaya nuances is intimately connected with her state of mind and her imagination. “Internalization” is a dancers’ term for it, and here, to be frank, there is quite a scope of improvement in Anita’s case. This is what makes the clear and lively images appear in the rasikas’ minds. Actually, not only minds. The Tantrics of Andhra are notorious for materializing things by power of their imagination. Know Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, eh?

On top of that, the sheer variety of rhythms, jathis, mudras and even karanas (there could be more of these, though, and a couple of them could be done more fully – like this) keeps our attention glued to the dancer (very important in case of the easily distracted American audience). Interestingly, I asked 2 well-known Bharatanatyam gurus about their analysis of certain small and distinct passages from Anita’s items. The gurus passed some general comments (Nice, Great, Beautiful, etc), which showed that their minds were clearly not in an analytical mode: they were just lost in Anit’s joyous dancing. Anita’s enthusiasm was so infectious!

In the beginning of the varnam, she depicted the dances of Shiva and Parvathy with finesse, although the quick transitions from tandava to lasya need to be perfected and made sharper and clearer. The choreography was simply superb. However, the dancers have to understand that watercolours are not quite suitable for Bharatanatyam: after Anita finished portraying Ravana, in a couple of instances she could not change her expression to Shiva’s as fast as she planned, so there was some leftover expression on her face. I suspect Anita is planning to become the fastest dancer in abhinaya. Curiously, I noticed that the faster you speak, the faster you can move your face. Want to try? 🙂 It is related to the proportion of tamas in your system.

Combining two themes (Ravana’s lifting the Kailasa and Nanadar’s path to the realizatin of the Shiva) in one varnam is questionable. Why not split these into 2 separate items? Yes, both are about Shiva, but…

Anyway, whether Anita realized it or not, she – along with the orchestra – did manage to bring the presence of Shiva much closer to the rasikas. One of the best realizations of Shiva’s nature that I have ever seen! Nobody was chewing chips or talking on the mobile. Everybody, even the gate keepers standing with open mouths, was engrossed in the highly spiritual experience. I think Anita is the most popular dancer in the US temples.

Muralidharan shook off his customary laziness and did a good job of instrumentation of the music so that it brought out the essence of the topics Anita was depicting. He created most of the jathis too.

The musicians were marvelous! What the orchestra did was to vary the tempo (I am not talking about kala ) gradually in most pieces. A typical Bharatanatyam dancer sticks to 3 flat (even) kala, but few manage to achieve a variety of tempos in each kala. In Anita’s thillana in particular, no single tempo was held for more than, errrr, 10 seconds? In other words, the tempo was constantly changing, practically all the time. Towards the end (5-10 seconds before) of each piece there was a significant change in the totality of the music, which emphasised the culmination of each item. Normally, the ending of items are not so clearly defined. I think here we have some western influence, but so well integrated into Anita’s items that it looks natural.

Sometimes I did not know whether to look at Anita or at the musicians. Take K.S.Sudhaman, for instance. I have never heard a mridangist who would manage to achieve a greater dynamic range and fit a greater variety of beats into one talam!

On top of that, he was accompanied by a tabla player. Very interesting combination. Preethi Mahesh was nearly excellent, although her voice’s tonal quality need to be cleaned.The veena player, M.L.Narayanan, was doing a great job, especially in the varnam, which was about Ravana playing the veena (remember made of what?). Priya Venkatraman does not understand that the veena (if played by a master) can be by far more effective instrument than the violin.

One thing I don’t like about many musicians and Muralidharan in paticular is how they fleece the dancers regardless whether these are mediocre dancers who deserve such treatment or the outstanding dancers who should certainly be treated differently. You can of course convert your musical talents into hard currency, but if you become too greedy, and a kind of vampire… I feel that gods will not give Muralidharan in his next birth a musical gift to sell. He may rather become a hungry mosquito…. It is a pity to see how money and greed destroys people. Unfortunately, many great artistes believe that their works of art “belong” to them, that they can “sell” them. Eventually, the slender river of inspiration dries out, and these people end up their life without any musical taste left.

“It is the NRI’s who have promoted Bharat Kalacharam, even more than the resident Indians”, uttered the professional speaker Mrs.YGP after mentioning that she conferred the title of “Yuvakala Bharati” on Anita Sivaraman. At Bharat Kalachar, there are no competitions: Mrs.YGP doesn’t like these: there is a risk a non-PSBB student could win the prizes. So, there are only titles.

Mrs.YGP is known to utter some politically motivated nonsense, such as “If X is a good dancer, it is because she is studying in a Padma Seshadri school”, and then “Even though Z has not studied in a Padma Seshadri school, she dances as if she did study at a Padma Seshadri school. She is always welcome to join a Padma Seshadri school”. Well, Mrs.YGP has a hobby of gathering good dancers and musicians around herself (Bharat Kalachar). Mrs.YGP personally persuaded such a well-known personality as MH to join a PS school too. The PS school teachers do not scold Bharatanatyam dancers for low marks. The Bharatanatyam dancers get extra bonus marks for any subject. Want to skip an exam? Ok…. Parava illai. 🙂

Mrs.YGP is too old not to distinguish between a good artiste and a bad one, and occasionally gets quite annoyed when some dance VIP pushes a useless dancer upon her.Well, why did Madam arrive only towards the end of Anita’s slot then??? She knows that, within 5-10 years, she will cross the border of life and enter a world where there is no politics, and no Bharat Kalachar. What I also know for sure is that her sins will be effaced by her good karma, so she will spend a long vacation (before the next incarnation) in a happy world of gandharvas. She will not reach higher. Maybe next time.

24 thoughts on “Bharat Kalachar’s titles. Anita Sivaraman. Anitha. Bharatanatyam. Bharata natyam.Bharatnatyam. Bharathanatyam . Classical Indian dance and dancers in Chennai. Bharatanrityam

  1. Dear dances and dnce lovers,

    I have seen all the comments and also the compliments. The opinion will vary with all the dancers, dance teachers and also dance lovers. I don’t mind to be critisized and that will give me more and more solutions to correct myself in future. Keep it up. I love this site. Very useful. congradulations. Please attend my daughter MC.Kavyalakshmi’s ” Astadasa Margam” on 16th of January at Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan which is going to be a full margham in Misra Jathi Ata Talam (18 beats) Very unusual and first of its kind in Bharatha Natyam field.
    Please visit kutcheribuz site for more details.

    Guru. Madurai. R.Muralidaran

  2. Sir,
    Some of your music has tapped into very high sources of light, and you have had some very high inspirations. These “lucky strikes”, glimpses of inspirations, do not belong to you: they belong to other worlds and beings.

    How you treat this music in terms of money will have an immediate and delayed effects on you and your surrounding. There is no harm charging a lot for these jewels if the buyer can easily afford it. Or if the buyer is a dancer who does not really deserve these (such dancers are a majority).

    However, in case of truly gifted and exceptional dancers who struggle to afford it, deep inside your soul you know very well the consequences of your actions.

  3. Regarding Madurai. R.Muralidaran’s daughter MC.Kavyalakshmi. No amount of promotion will make Kavyalakshmi learn how to dance, what is ardhamandala. Every elderly auntie in my locality can move more than Kavyalakshmi. She can dance without moving her limbs? It is not dancing! The child’s personality has been wasted by over-tutoring, she drops her jaw, pulls it back, and dances with her mouth wide open as if hungry, then forces some resemblance of smile back onto her face for a moment. A total disgrace!

    Attendance is great as long as Madurai. R.Muralidaran keeps forcing his friends and students to come. Some others maybe lured by ‘Misra Jathi Ata Talam’, but if the vocalist is hoarse and if the lyrics and music are poor, who will come again? Formally it may look like correct Carnatic music but composed by some softwares. Madurai. R.Muralidaran can make a record if he uses 1 word (like ‘Vanakkam’) in a song and repeats it 300 times. So much of repetition is covering a lack of real music and lack of real talent. Total waste!

  4. Ask The Friday Review’s editor how she decides which dancer’s performance to send The Hindu correspondents to, and you will understand how much these reviews are worth (in 2 senses!). This time she sent one of the dumbest ones, Vidya Saranyan, who wrote nonsense like “more thought should have gone into the colour of the costume”! The photographer was dumb enough to capture the dancer with her mouth open and the lower jaw drawn back in a funny expression:

    I don’t think Vidya Saranyan was unaware that it is not Madurai R. Muralidharan but rather his wife who is well known for dynamic choreography. “The permutation worked without losing tempo”? Yes, the musicians coped with it well, but not the dancer! A “smart strategy by her father and guru ensured that Kavyalakshmi rose to the occasion”? Maybe the PR strategy was smart, but not very. Despite Vidya Saranyan assurances of “Kavya’s accurate execution of adavus” and “her talent for mime”, Kavyalakshmi was able to complete hardly any adavus and her mime was idiotic, to say the least! Vidya Saranyan could see that the mime was ruined by Kavyalakshmi’s going out of breath and heavily panting, but the wise correspondent chose to write that “dancer’s considerable stamina stood her in good stead”! What a joke! Another joke was to call M. Pai’s hoarse voice “amazing”!

  5. Hi,

    I totally agree with Srinidhi. The people who write reviews have their own choices about even attending recitals. My daughter is also a dancer(though I am not interested in revealing her name) I have taken all efforts to go personally to the Hindu Office to place invitations and request letters to send their art editors but of no avail. They have time only to write reviews on already established persons and the next generations of the established persons. Personally I feel that people in upper middle class should think ‘n’ number of times before choosing Bharatanatyam Career for their young ones as it takes us nowhere. We are fated to stick to a good education, which ll be of gr8 help to our young ones to earn and establish their life.

  6. The people who write reviews do not have their own choices about even attending recitals. They go where the Fr.Review editor (Geetha) wants to send them only.
    I have a question for Madurai.R.Muralidaran.
    Did you request Geetha to send some correpondent to Kavyalakshmi’s recital? I heard her rates are Rs 4000 for 1 short review with photo? I think it is too much.

  7. Bharathi, you have already revealed her name.
    Vidya Lakshmi Srinivasan (guru -Gayathri Balagurunathan ) may be a reasonably good dancer, perhaps in the top 20% of those young dancers who perform in Chennai, but Friday Review cannot publish your daughter’s reviews in every issue! 🙂 Aren’t you a bit too greedy? 🙂

    If there are more than 100 dancers in the top 20% of those youngsters performing in Chennai, how would you distribute the print space among them? 🙂

    Myself, I would only feature the top 2-3%, that’s all. The others can go back to the dance class and practise a bit more 🙂

  8. Hi

    I really don’t know when and where I revealed my daughter’s name and I am not saying that her name should be featured in every Hindu review column, as I know pretty well that my daughter is yet to reach such standards and she is not performing in all sabhas during the seasons as we cannot afford same. Even in my comment, I have just stated that though I have taken steps to personally go to the Hindu Office and place invitations it is of no avail. You go to the Hindu Office, to invite and they take a copy of your invite in the reception desk itself and you are shown out. It is just an anguish i shared and it has nothing to do with writing reviews about my daughter. So no question of being greedy. When Hindu does not have time to write about a wonderful production “Aynkaran” of Gayatri Balagurunathan, I surely don’t expect a review about my daughter. When they can devote two full pages for Priyadarshini Govind, they can also devote half a page atleast to people like Gayatri, who also deserve it. So the blog comment was made having in my mind some persons who really deserve to be appreciated and surely not my daughter as I am very well aware that she has a long way to go.

  9. Hi Baratanatyam,,,,,,,,,,,,,Why silent………………I think I have made myself crystal clear………..But I am yet to receive a reply from your side……………………………………….

  10. Sorry, what was the question? 🙂

    As for the distribution of the space in the Friday Review, I would suggest you gather all the dancers and write a collective letter to the chief editor (or else meet him in person) and ask what are the guidelines, criteria and principles that the Friday Review follows (or does not follow) in selecting the dancers they cover. For example, should they set the Kalakshetra-style dancers’ quota at 20% level? 🙂

    But then, what about other newspapers? Will you ask them too? And TV channels? Or maybe the Govt. Tourism departments – how they select the dancers for festivals? Or how Doordarshan assigns their degrees?

    I bet you are not going to get any reply from them at all: politicians (including those sitting in newspapers’ offices) are dumb and easily embarrassed.

    Don’t worry, in a few year’s time hardly anybody (except for some octogenarian brahmins in Mylapore or some old farmers in the Kumbakonam district) will be reading the Friday Review or watch DD: the Internet is here! 🙂

    Even the newspapers and TV channels are mushrooming. Is there anything to worry about? 🙂 I love competition! 🙂

    By the way, as you see in my blog, I do not pay attention to ballets/group performances as it is only the solo that is Bharatanatyam proper.

  11. Again I wish to clarify that I was just sharing my feeling as the blog is open for a comment………and my business is not to go to Hindu Office to find out their working ways……..I feel its irrelevant here……….and about why only Hindu…….because it is still the widely read newspaper in TN.

  12. Bharathi, why is it so important??? It was easy to find the guru’s name seeing the list of your friends on… Considering the fact that I have seen only 4 of Gayatri’s students (and your daughter was the best among them!), there was only one whose surname was Srinivasan. By the way, I would suggest Vidya should at least once try to observe what her mouth does while dancing. 😉

  13. It was very important because I had not mentioned her name anywhere, while you had mentioned that I have mentioned her name in my blog which is not the truth………thanks for the comments and suggestion………shall tell her about the correction you have mentioned.

  14. Sure. I don’t know if your comments are made with good spirit or meant to tease her just like you have mentioned about others in your blogs………But I have taken it in the right spirit and told my daughter about same.

  15. It was made with good spirit, and it was made with a smile too: we cannot get rid of our shortcomings until we learn to take things easy. Didn’t you and your friends tease each other in your childhood? When we grow older, especially when we inflate our pride (things happen when one is on the stage), we can no longer play care-free and laugh at the imperfections of our body and mind… If Krishna took this world of Maya seriously, he would immediately lose his happiness 😦

    Of course, when I see the corruption, outright stupidity, and so on, I do not mince words when people try to murder Bharatanatyam to pander to their lower instincts. It is Kali’s job to take care of it.

    By the way, did you read my comment on Sangeetha’s? Here it is:

    I just wanted to remind you that we were talking about “many good performers who are yet to be recognized”. Neither T.M.Sridevi, nor Manjari nor Ranjit fall into the category of “yet to be recognized”. In fact, they are quite famous and do not complain.

    By the way, which Swetha did you mean? Since you are in the Kalakshetra clan, I think you meant Swetha Vijayaraghavan, Adyar Lakshman’s student and Sujatha’s protege. But then, how can you say that she is “yet to be recognized”??? I would be lucky if I had a promoter like Sujatha! 😉
    I mean to say that Sujatha’s protege, even though she is a very good dancer indeed, would not have become the winner at the 2007 Spirit of Youth competition without the able assistance of Sujatha. There were better contestants. 😉 For those naive ones who do not know the undercurrents, Sujatha Vijayaraghavan with 442 votes was elected committee member of the Music Academy, who… conduct the Spirit of Youth competition. When commitee members please their own proteges with the “winner’s” title, it seems funny …. 🙂 Well, politicians in Tamil Nadu are shameless.

    So, Bharathi, what do you think? Would you arrange for such a present for your daughter? 🙂 Look, lately Rajinikanth arranged for the Kalaimamani title (in the “Bharatanatyam” field!!!) for his daughter who cannot dance at all!!! 🙂 Everybody I know is laughing! 🙂

    I am sure you did not watch another Swetha, Swetha Sukumar, who is actually marginally better than Sujatha’s daughter. You surely did not mean that Swetha Ravishankar is “outstanding”, nor the Swetha of guru Karthiyayini Srinivas, or the Swetha of guru Ranganayaki Jararaman, nor Swetha Balakrishnan, nor the rich D.Swetha of guru Ratnamala Raveendran (the worst “guru” that I have ever seen), nor Swetha Sameeksha, nor M.Swetha of Vijay Madhavan.

  16. Hi Bharatanatyam,

    sorry due to some family function I could not access the net for few days. I totally agree with you about the presentations and titles. I surely do not want any such titles for my daughter. I wanted her to learn dance and music because I love both the art forms and personally feel if you involve yourself totally with passion and love, you can feel the divinity in it. And about Swetha, I am talking about Swetha who is the student of Sri Adyar K Lakshman sir. (Nanda and Swetha) . Of course I don’t get to attend all dance recitals but do make it to dance and music shows whenever I get a chance. I can very well understand about the feelings you are sharing here and I wish to say that I also feel the same. I was told by many persons in this field that almost all the titles are purchased though I am personally aware of it. Today only money speaks and nothing else.

  17. Well, as someone who isn’t that familiar with the Bharatanatyam style of dance, I was surprised to see how much the facial expressions changed the whole experience.

    Anita may not be the icon of this kind of dance, but I watched a few videos with Bharatanatyam (on, and though some seemed “forced” and cheesy, it really is a big part of this style.

    I was hoping to learn more about how this style evolved, but I’ll find the history somewhere.

  18. The facial expressions reflect the state of mind. So it is a matter of what state of mind the dancer is in, and what state of mind she puts the audience in.

    As for the history, what period are you interested in?

    As for iyango, where did you find “a few videos with Bharatanatyam”??? There is just 1 lame clip there where one 40-year-old American truck loader is posing as a “Bharatanatyam” student ! 🙂 Totally clumsy and disgusting!

  19. To all the rasikas and crtics

    I think it is very important to have critics with a minute eye for detail and deeper understanding of what is required in a dance form. I read all the posts (I think!) in this site i accidentally came across. I am a dancer myself and i learnt a lot when i read posts especially by bharatnatyam and ashwini (like smitha hasya when u are posing as deities would show no teeth! ). I am a dancer myself and a decent one. I think all people should agree without getting too emotional on the small differences in opinions that one might hold w.r.t these crtics. You can only perfect your art with the medha u have to see, listen and learn from what people around you say. And being a dancer since i was a kid i know how easy it becomes to smile with no meaning everytime someone comes and says “that was a good performace”. I respect the person for his honesty but i would have appreciated it a lot more if he could tell me that this, this and this is wrong. I might argue, i might think about it later in the night and finally make a decision as to where, what and how much to “Correct” later based on what makes “sense”to me…isnt that what a nartaki should do? use her insight to make her own decisions about what she is performing?

    To all those who are offended by the harsh way of driving the point here, i would like to say, if u are sensible, u would take the comments here for what they are intended…to push urself to be better. Note that your Guru might not be very forthright in pointing ur mistakes, or not humble enough to accept that he is mistaken, or not aware enough to know that, your parents and friends might be too protective or ignorant, critics are the only people who can come forth and give u a straightforward point of view very important to grow as a dancer. It is very rare to have people who have the ability, insight and courage to see what is wrong and tell u that. Extent of interpretations, subjectivity in their points or their opinions might be different, but it is important that they exist and u learn the alternate point of view and proceed with best judgement.

    I am a big fan of this art form and nothing has motivated me like the hope that some day i can learn it inspite of not being able to afford it, inspite of not learning from a famous guru, or a deeply knowledgable one, inspite of not being able to afford an arangetram and inspite of not being able to make a career out of what i would wnat to make one out of. And people like u who can tell me how i can reach out better in what i am passionate about are as invaluable as my guru. (whom i respect very deeply )

    thanks a ton! i will post my views on other blogs soon..:)

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