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PURUSH - The Global Dancing Male
19 December, 2013

                                              - by  V.V.Ramani 

The spot light has changed from being woman-centric to being male- centric this year!  Appropriately titled PURUSH- the Global Dancing Male, a  Natya Darshan Conference hosted by Kartik Fine Arts , it is curated by Dr. Anita Ratnam and co-curated by Prof. Hari Krishnan.  The timing for this conference could not have been better, especially against a background of male dancers feeling marginalized and discriminated in a domain largely dominated by women.   Ironically however, the history of dance will lead one to the male nattuvanars, dancers and Gurus, who held the bastion for a long period of time – they in turn were hugely responsible for the growth and popularity of the art form, and in turn were responsible for training women to learn the art.

The focus on PURUSH was addressed two decades back in a festival at Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal features performances and discussions by legendary male dancers. A travelling show of a group of male dancers with the same title was presented soon after by Anita Ratnam. Over the years, the scenario of the male dancers has not witnessed many changes. The present conference goes back to address these issues with a new perspective.

 Anita goes on a nostalgic journey remembering the artists who were part of the show years back and discusses about the continuation of their presence in this conference like Prof. C. V.Chandrasekar, Anuj Mishra  (son of Arjun Mishra) and the inimitable Vinay Kumar whose debut in the role of Bhima left a strong impression on the viewers , that one awaits to watch the performance where he will don the role of Ravana- the tenth head !

As someone who has witnessed the Purush festival at Bhopal, and savoured its essence, and later watched the show(Anita’s) at the Music Academy with its striking sets, I for one, am looking forward to see the new perspectives that the conference promises.

The three-day-event has panel discussions, lectures related to the problems and issues concerning the male artists. Evening performances besides featuring the celebrity artists also showcases young emerging dancers from varied classical styles of India. A highlight here is the Indian premiere of the work UMA choreographed by Harikrishnan.  A conference of this stature is naturally bound to present a legend, not only honouring him but also presenting his performance- Purush heralds Pt. Birju Maharaj.

 The idea is to present a conference of International standards overcoming the various constraints that the space and the city have to offer. The sessions are kept short and brief to enable interesting and intellectual discussions and are not fashioned like University lectures, keeping in mind the fact that the young audience has to held captive!

Anita acknowledges the support given by the Chairman and office bearers of Kartik Fine Arts. With the impeccable attention she pays to every detail , her organizational skills has set a bench mark for excellence  the last two years, and Anita leaves no stone unturned to ensure the success o the conference, making sure that the third edition of her tenure is just as chic as the previous ones.

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