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Dancing in harmony

Ponnamma Devaiah
Radhika Ramanujam
This edition of Trendsetters features Radhika Ramanujam, a seasoned dancer, and more so a true art supporter and appreciator who would diligently attend programmes and give feed-backs, and Sonia Ponnamma Devaiah, a classical and contemporary dancer of Bangalore, truly making dance a way of life.

Note: This conversation was first published in print in Ananya's Abhivyakti, a monthly periodical

What is your opinion on Indian classical dance flourishing globally?

Radhika: Indian classical dance has always amazed people and touched their hearts. It is very pleasing to see many connoisseurs from different part of the world show such great interest and liking towards classical dance forms. Many students across the globe want to learn these art forms with immense dedication and interest. We indeed should be proud. It is our wealth and may it flourish unboundedly.

Ponnamma: I think it is great that Indian classical dance is being received so well all over the world. Finally our long preserved heritage is appreciated, a matter of great happiness.

Do you feel Bangalore needs a season of Dance and Music as is the case in Chennai?

Radhika: Well not really! Bangalore conducts music and dance festivals all through the year, be it Spring Festival or Sri Ramanavami concerts or Gokulastami or the famous Habba. Bangalore is buzzing with cultural activities through seasons. The connoisseurs are having their “Arts Calendar” marked most of the days in the year. This is indeed a boon for both the artistes and the rasikas too. We get to watch and perform round the year.

Ponnamma: I think Bangalore has it’s own beautiful set up right now. We don’t need a season specially for it because as far as I know we have dance and music which happens through out the year which is great for us. And organizers in Bangalore are far more better than any where else.

Ponnamma Devaiah
What is your motivating factor for dancing?

Radhika: “Dance” itself motivates me to dance. I have spent all my childhood , teenage dancing and do so till date. Dance has become an integral part of me. The joy and energy is boundless. It can’t be matched by anything else.

Ponnamma: Initially it was my parents who wanted me to learn dance. The transition was gradual but I did not realize when my our dreams merged as a part of me or rather I am part of dance. I am still figuring the equation though. Watching a good dance performance, watching nature, motivates me. I just dance, guess sometimes we all dance without any initiation.

Is technology a boon or drawback to classical dance?

Radhika: Technology is indeed a boon to classical dance – be it with usage of lights or video, music or photography. It has facilitated the classical form to be appreciated by the masses. However, advanced technology in terms of online classes is something which I wouldn’t support or advice as nothing can surpass learning from a guru directly in an institution.

Ponnamma: Technology is sometimes really helpful because we as dancers cannot afford to have live music every time. Recorded music becomes a viable option and a one time investment to quote an example.

Radhika Ramanujam
Share some memorable experiences of your work in group productions.

Radhika: My Gurus Sri Kiran Subrahmanyam and Smt Sandhya are excellent choreographers. We performed “Aarambh” – a feature. He had choreographed a varnam portraying a Virohatkandita nayika with eight dancers. The group had to hold onto a single emotion, very much in sync with each other. The emphasis was not on the often presented adavu or nritta co-ordination, but on abhinaya where the mood had to be poised by all the artists.

Recently for Prasiddha Dance repertory, a group of six dancers from various schools came together and worked rigorously. We performed at prestigious platforms in Delhi as part of the Delhi International Arts Festival, an experience that was very exciting and memorable.

Ponnamma: I have been a part of a lot of group productions and my first lesson was to dance in harmony with the others, a very important concept. Outdoing the others will spoil the spirit of the group, a mistake I rectified after my initial days.

I have choreographed a few small works where again I learnt that as a choreographer one has to make the idea clear to all the dancers first and foremost. Further to which the theme to be translated through the dance needs to be worked. I learn a lot through every performance, and through every mistake I make.The process is still going on.

What is the role of Choreography in generating interests in urban audiences today?

Radhika: Choreography plays a very key role in bringing the audience to appreciate any art form. One needs to be innovative and experimenting, keeping the classicism and the tradition intact. It is something like keeping the roots intact and branching out newly. There is a famous Kannada saying “Hale beru hosa chiguru”. Let us not deviate too much because no longer it would remain a classical art. Choreography should aid to educate the audience and enlighten them too.

What led you to your initiation to contemporary dance?

Ponnamma: I studied bachelors in choreography from the Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography, under Maya didi. I learnt that as an artist we should observe and learn to appreciate what is good. So I used to watch classes conducted by Ms. Madhu Natraj under the Stemp Group,which was very inspiring and this led me towards the group. As one of the assistant directors of Stem Dance Kampni today, it has been a good journey.


1 comment:

Saivenkatesh said...

creativity, choreographic presentation, new themes, and new artists, its all a great adventure, but santity of our culture and tradition makes one feel - a true achievement.

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