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    August 31st, 2015adminArts, Culture & Entertainment
    Yuvan Bothysathuvar | R SATISH BABU

    Yuvan Bothysathuvar | R SATISH BABU

    Life is full of illusions, which in turn keep its stark realities cloaked under their convincing garb,” muses Chennai-based mixed media artist Yuvan Bothysathuvar as he shows us around at his ongoing solo show ‘Shifting Paradigms: Learning From Life’ at Gallery Veda in Chennai.

    The 40-year-old, who gave up pigments and the canvas for mixed media eight years ago, believes only an artist could break these illusions and remind humanity of life’s true nature through novel mediums of expression.

    In his recent body of art, Yuvan marries Papier Colle with geometric abstraction and creates a unique visual rhetoric to depict the different faces of life.

    “There is something magical about paper and the printed word. Rough or glossy, blazingly white or dirty, paper comes with a range of colours, tones and crisp. A blend of these elements gives my works an intriguing look,” he says.

    Little black letters indeed speak out in ‘Ripple’, a 96”X96” work done on eight panels of plywood. Coiled over a backdrop of soiled printed paper is a huge ripple made of thinly cut magazine strips. It is not just the contrasting tones of both the papers that make the work eye-catchy but also appearances of smaller ripples that fuse with the troughs and crests of the bigger one.

    “The ripple symbolises the disturbances that plague our life. One moment there is calm and then something, whether in the form of social, political or economical tumult pierces through our composure, just the way a pebble disturbs water,” summarises Yuvan.

    Although pregnant with meaning, Yuvan’s works are evenly catchy and loaded with colours as the artist believes his priority is to make his work visually pleasant rather than preachy. “Even if your art depicts the true horrors of a war, what is the use when its goriness repels people,” he says.

    A native of Tiruvannamalai, Yuvan begun his stint in art by painting portraits for a banner company in 1992.  Although he later moved to Chennai to pursue his graduation and post-graduation in Visual Communication from the Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai, it wasn’t until 2007 that he discovered a wider vista in mixed media.

    A former researcher at Chennai’s Lalit Kala Akademi, Yuvan uses optical illusion as a symbol in his work ‘Grass Is Greener on the Other Side’, to show the difference between deception and reality. The work, comprising a twin set of square boards plastered with colourful strips of paper, looks like a spray of confetti from a distance, but appears to be alternate pairs of green and red squares when seen from the corners.

    “The squares show how coloured our judgment would be if we do not see a thing from both the sides. The same faulty perception makes us envious towards others, even though nature has invested the same qualities in us,” Yuvan says.

    The artist addresses the transiency of life in his work ‘Wall’ (90”X41”) which he has made by leaving hazy imprints of freshly painted posters on plywood board. “Even though the images are residue of the original painting, the reality is they have replaced the latter, just like one generation is subbed by another,” he explains.

    Besides, paper which he procures from second hand book shops, the artist uses materials like threads, mirrors, jute, turmeric, beads, stainless steel and different types of stones to articulate his concepts.

    Honoured with the ‘Emerging Artist of the Year’ award as Part of ‘Glenfiddich’ Artist in residence programme in Scotland, 2013, Yuvan recently won the CIMA Merit Award 2015 in Kolkata.

    Currently improvising on his concepts for the Papier Colle Collection, Yuvan says giving them form is a daunting task. From sorting out the papers to manually cutting (or tearing) them into several dimensions to gluing them to shape takes him from three weeks to one-and-a-half months to achieve.

    But the labour pays off eventually. “It does, not when people buy my works, but when they fall in love with them. To them I don’t have to explain my concepts because deep within I know they have found their own meanings and that’s what makes me happy,” he adds.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Magazine / by Samhat Mohapatra / August 29th, 2015

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    Coimbatore :

    They have won several quiz contests, but it hurt them when they lost at the Young Mind IT Quiz in 2014. The team from G K D Matriculation School in Periyanaickenpalayam here returned with the intention to win the contest this year. And, they did it.

    M Sharat Chandar and A S Hari Krishna became the champions of the Young Mind IT Quiz 2015 that was organized by Coimbatore Institute of Technology on Monday.

    After competing with more than 400 teams across the state, the GKD Matriculation Higher Secondary School made it to the finals only to clash against the former champions from Vivekananda Vidyalaya in Chennai.

    “I think the G K D team was well prepared. It reflected in the way they were shooting their answers for every question,” said the quiz master Giri Balasubramaniam.

    “There was no specific strategy as such. We wanted play the game as usual,” said M Sharat Chandar. The team said that this quiz was easier for them because they prepared for another IT Quiz a few days ago.

    The team won the quiz scoring 70 points in the five rounds of the finals. While the GKD team had strategically claimed their win before the final round ended, the fight for the runners up became closer between St Jude’s, Kotagiri and Vivekananda Vidyalaya. However, by the end of the final round, both teams managed to score 40 points each, and the quiz master called for a tie breaker.

    Unfortunately, the St Jude’s team pressed the buzzer with excitement, but got the answer wrong, making Vivekananda Vidyalaya the runners up of the quiz.

    The winners of the contest were awarded a trophy and an iPad each. All other participants were given a trophy and a tablet.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Coimbatore / by Adarsh Jain, TNN / August 31st, 2015

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    Sivaji in a still from Veerapandiya Kattabomman

    Sivaji in a still from Veerapandiya Kattabomman

    Chennai  :

    In popular film lore, it is said that the legend of Veerapandiya Kattabomman, the Palayakarrar chieftain who was hanged by the British in 1799, has lived on due to late Tamil thespian Sivaji Ganesan’s powerful portrayal of the warrior in the 1959 biopic.

    Such has been Sivaji’s screen magic that the film Veerapandiya Kattabomman continues to draw fans in droves 56 years after it first hit the screens. On Friday, when the movie was re-released, his fans distributed sweets, burst crackers and performed aarthi to a cut out of the actor at a theatre here.

    At Shanthi Theatre, owned by the actor’s family, people from all walks of life turned up to watch their beloved hero in one of his eternal roles one more time. Every time Sivaji appeared on screen, loud cheers rent the air with most fans giving him a standing ovation and screaming, ‘Tamil Naatin Singame, Thalaivaa…’ Among them was Pappaiyaa, who had lost vision 12 years ago after acid spilled on his eyes. “I’ve been a fan of Sivaji since 1975. I have watched this film scores of times but I love it so much that I will keep coming to the theatres. All I have to do is listen to the dialogues as I remember the scenes vividly,” he said. In 1959, when the film was first released, it was on 35mm and had mono-sound. It has been converted to cinemascope with 5.1 surround system.

    However, the film is not only restricted to the love and respect of the viewers in India. It was won hearts across the globe.

    “Vijayalakshmi Pandit, the sister of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, inaugurated its screening at the Tamil Sangam in London. This is the only Indian film to have won Afro-Asian awards in three categories—best acting, best music and best film in 1960,” said V Srinivasan, the vice president of Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Samooga Nala Peravai. The film was a silver jubilee hit in 1959 when it first released, running for over 175 days. “Interestingly, this film impressed audiences in Egypt too which had been a British colony and needless to say, it was a hit there too,” said Srinivasan.

    Legendary Leader of Tamil Nadu

    Veerapandiya Kattabomman, the 18th century Palayakarrar chieftain of Tamil Nadu, was one of the earliest warriors to oppose the British rule in south India. Even before the historic War of Independence could pick up its pace in the northern part of the country, Kattabomman had already sounded his war bugle against the Britishers. Although he fought valiantly, he was betrayed by a supporter and was eventually captured by the enemy. Kayatharu, the place where he was executed in 1799, has become a place of political pilgrimage. Centuries after his death, many folklores and folk songs that praise the valour of the brave man continue to be a part of Tamil Nadu’s culture.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> The Sunday Standard / by Manigandan K R / August 23rd, 2015

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    August 31st, 2015adminArts, Culture & Entertainment

    Coimbatore :

    Renuka Mohanraj, an independent upcoming beautician, is fully booked for all the ‘muhurtham’ dates up to November. Not all of them are by brides, but include friends, relatives and cousins of the new to-be-wedded couples. Here’s the catch — the main service in demand is for draping saris.

    “People prefer us independent beauticians for draping saris as against the new parlours that have been popping up all around,” she says. “Most youngsters otherwise prefer the more fancy salons for hair blow-drying, straightening, styling and make-up.”

    With a growing population of women in their twenties and thirties not knowing how to wear sari by themselves, this is fast turning into a specialized service, even in the non-bridal beauty service segment. Once considered a basic skill of most Indian women above the age of 21, a neat sari drape is now considered a “work of art”.

    “Now women are particular about how thin or endowed the sari makes them look and they do not want to experiment by trying it themselves,” says another independent beautician, Omana Thomas. “Especially, with heavy saris like kanchivaram, benarasi, organzas or even heavily-embroidered Georgettes. They don’t mind spending a few thousands on it,” she says.

    As a result, sari draping has become a lucrative service on offer by beauty parlours and beauticians. A sari draped according to the classic Indian style, which is a 20-minute job, costs anywhere between Rs200 to Rs600.

    “A decade ago, women close to the couple used to call us mainly for hair and make-up. Only clients studying in colleges or still unmarried used to request help with their saris or request a drape as an additional service,” says Thomas. “However, now this is the main service requested by even married women in their late twenties. Hair and make-up have become side services,” she says.

    Sari draping experts and old-timers say this change in trend can be attributed to changing lifestyles and fashion patterns. “Two decades ago, women used to wear saris everyday to college. It slowly changed to salwar suits, kurtas and kurtis,” says designer Aparna Venkatesh. “Besides farewell, graduation day, ethnic day and friends’ weddings, the sari is hardly worn,” she adds.

    This has also led to sari draping classes cropping up across not just across the city, but the country too. “While some offer it as a separate one-day course, some offer it as part of personal grooming classes,” said Kavita Ramesh, who used to organize personal grooming workshops for young women twice a year.

    Meena Krishnakumar, one of the most popular sari draping teachers in Coimbatore, says she gets at least 15 to 18 students a month. “A majority of students are girls who come to me just after their wedding date is fixed and their mother-in-laws have asked them about their sari tying abilities. There are also the newly appointed college lecturers and students of colleges who insist on wearing sari once a week,” she said.

    However, Meena doubts that her classes will ever create a dent in the demand for professional sari drapers. “Sari draping requires regular practice because you need to learn to drape different types of fabrics to your shape and size. Just attending a two-hour session and then trying it for a function three months later will not work,” she says. “Regularly wearing a sari is almost impossible now,” she adds

    Once considered a basic skill of most Indian women above the age of 21, a neat sari drape is now considered a “work of art”.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Coimbatore / by Pratiksha Ramkumar, TNN / August 30th, 2015

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    August 31st, 2015adminScience & Technologies

    Chennai :

    Women are prone to diabetes at every stage of their life, so a community-based approach is needed to help woman patients understand the disease, said endocrinologist Dr Usha Sriram of ACEER clinic.

    The clinic on Saturday launched ‘Women2Women’, an initiative by women for women to address the rising epidemic of diabetes in India. “Diabetes in women is different, difficult, neglected and on the rise. Women are particularly more vulnerable to more complications and a shorter lifespan,” said the doctor. The premise of the initiative is that women are great change agents as they are able to share, communicate, support and nurture, she added.

    About 100 women diabetologists and physicians from across the country will be trained in capacity building and will come together for physician training, review of educational material and launch of tools and portals for community empowerment. The first phase of the programme is designed to reach 2,500 women physicians across the country and 50 lakh women in the community.

    The highlight of this programme is the community education approach to prevent and manage diabetes.

    The doctor pointed out that this is the first time that a coalition of women endocrinologists and diabetologists are coming together to focus on how to reach women for better health outcomes. Actor Radhika Sarathkumar and Dr Sr Jasintha Quadras, principal Stella Maris College were present at the launch.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / TNN / August 30th, 2015

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    Chennai  :

    The corridors of a 200-year-old house, the grounds of an equestrian centre, and on Friday, a stretch of the Adyar River… designers in Chennai want to make sure it’s not just their clothes that are couture, but their catwalks as well.

    Under floodlights, the Adyar River beneath their feet, models and mannequins were poised on boats in resplendent Moroccan-inspired outfits designed by Fibin-Imaad as they were ferried across a 250-metre stretch of water, for a first of its kind fashion show in the city.

    “The trend in fashion these days is sports and we thought we would incorporate that idea into our show,” says Fibin, who showcased his clothes against the river, with help from Madras Boat Club which provided the boats and rowers. “Our clothes are avant-garde and so we figured that doing a show at a venue that was just as original was the perfect way to showcase our line,” adds Fibin.

    Around the globe, unusual venues are quite in vogue among designers — cobble-stoned streets turned to catwalks recently at fashion capital Milan, for instance. Now some Chennai designers too seem to have taken a fancy to the idea.

    A few weeks ago, it was well-known designer Vivek Karunakaran, who gave the term dressage a whole new meaning when he used an equestrian centre as a backdrop to photograph his formal men’s wear line ‘Seabiscuit’ themed after the 2003 English movie of the same name.

    “The shoot for the collection was done at the Chennai Equitation Centre at Old Mahabalipuram Road and now I am planning to sequel it with a fashion show for the same line at the centre. Just having the models walk with horses, with a stable in the background, I feel it is the perfect venue for a show on the line,” says Karunakaran. Earlier in April this year, he had curated a show at a hotel in the city where the entire space from the lobby to the bar, coffee shop and terrace were used to create a seamless catwalk. “We had models start at the coffee shop and walk through all the spots showcasing the outfits with guests on either side of the catwalk. It was a continuous catwalk with TV screens relaying what was happening at each of the sub-venues,” says Karunakaran.

    Designer Sandeep Ravi of Studio 9696 similarly debuted his collection this March at the 200-year-old Luz House with actors Taapsee, Sanchita Shetty and Bharath walking through the corridors, rooms and stairways of the heritage building. “We placed a long red carpet along the centre of the rooms and corridors of Luz House for the models to walk on, as guests stood on either side,” says Ravi. “Luz House was perfect – the entire structure is stunning and we didn’t even need artificial lighting, the natural light that flowed in was unbeatable,” he adds.

    “We wanted our show to be more of an experience. Most fashion shows are held at hotels or halls and the whole thing feels run of the mill and boring. For our debut, we wanted to make an impression. While we knew our collection would wow, we wanted a venue that would keep up, one that people would remember and talk about for days after. And Luz House delivered,” adds Ravi, who has other out of the box venues lined up for future shows.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / by Kamini Mathai, TNN / August 29th, 2015

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    Madurai :

    A city has several awe-inspiring sights, but a village too is not far behind, as a group of more than 200 college students learnt on Sunday. The students, who had gone on a ‘heritage walk’ to a small village in Madurai, were amazed by the richness of tradition and the diversity of cultural practices in the hamlet.

    Thenoor, about 12km from Madurai, is around 200 years old and believes itself to be under the control of Lord Sundarajaperumal, the deity of Alagarkoil.

    Children beat drums in the background as the group, which included historians and scholars, walked around the villages, admiring its ancient structures. They visited the Sundaram temple, Perumal temple and Sivan temple.

    The village is known for its ‘vetrilai’ or betel leaves, which the people grow in large numbers to offer to Lord Sundarajaperumal.

    Special performances were arranged for the visitors, including folk dances like ‘kollattam’ and ‘kummi’ performed by village girls dressed in traditional attire.

    In an interesting competition, the men in the village are required to prove their eligibility for marriage by lifting a heavy stone. The competition, called the Ilavattakal, drew many spectators on Sunday.

    Some of the students became so enthusiastic that they soon began to cheer for the participants.

    The villagers played traditional games like uriadithal, pambaram, gilli, pacha kudirai and kabbadi. Some of the older members took part in games like vidukathaigal (riddle-telling) and proverb-telling.

    The trip was organised by the Dhan Foundation. The group was also treated to glasses of ‘kool’, a preparation made out of millets that some of them had not even heard of.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Madurai / by Karishma Ravindran, TNN / August 10th, 2015

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    Four inscriptions belonging to different historical periods have been found at an ancient temple in a dilapidated condition at Alamelumangalam, a remote village off the Tiruchi-Musiri Road, by research scholars of Dr. M. Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research, Tiruchi.

    The inscriptions split into fragments apparently during renovations taken up in the past were found during an explorative study undertaken by R. Akila, assistant professor, Arignar Anna Government Arts College, Musiri, along with two K. Kasturi and S. Sridevi, postgraduate history students of the college.

    Ms. Kasturi’s brother, K. Sarankumar, a schoolboy, had sounded out her sister on the existence of a dilapidated temple in the village. Ancient sculptures were found at the temple, referred to as Varadaraja Perumal Temple by local people, according to R. Kalaikkovan, Director, Dr. M. Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research.

    In a press release, Dr. Kalaikovan said large size icons of Vishnu and his consort Sridevi, which were once inside the temple, have now been kept under a thatched shed, a makeshift arrangement made by a local resident A. Ramasamy.

    The dilapidated temple at present has a vimana without upper structures and two mandapas in front. The larger pillared mandapa in the front has a raised platform on its northwest housing two sculptures of Vishnu of medium size and an icon of Naga. The mukha mandapa was empty, he said.

    M. Nalini, Head, Department of History, Seethalakshimi Ramasamy College, who verified the inscriptions found at the temple, said that two records of 14th century split into several fragments were identified at the bases of two mandapas and the vimana and one of them reveals the gift of a fertile land to the temple towards its worship and offerings by the sabha of a certain Brahmin settlement. The inscription provides a list of signatories who were members of the sabha.

    The other inscription throws light on a processional deity and the endowment of dry land towards its worship made by a group of people. Another inscription of 18th century copied from the door jamb of the larger mandapa registers the gift of a land by Vedanayaka Nambi. The purpose of the gift was not known.

    A later Pandya inscription copied from a pillar of the same mandapa introduces Kailayamudaian Anjataperumal who probably was behind the construction of the mandapa.

    The inscriptions split into fragments were found during an explorative study

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Tiruchirapalli / by Special Correspondent / Tiruchi – August 28th, 2015

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    The fibre paintings depicting the history of freedom fighter Veerapandiya Kattabomman at his memorial in Kayathar has become a crowd-puller.

    After the Kattabomman memorial was opened by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on June 18 last, over 200 tourists visit this place every day and the number goes up during holidays.

    To add more colour to the memorial, two mega fibre paintings depicting the coronation of Kattabomman and a hare chasing the hound near Kattabomman’s fort at Paanchaalankurichi have been kept.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> TamilNadu / by Special Correspondent / Tuticorin – August 28th, 2015

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    August 27th, 2015adminArts, Culture & Entertainment
    S. Sarada of Kalakshetra.(1915-2009) with student Kala Ramesh Rao. Photos: Special Arrangement. / The Hindu

    S. Sarada of Kalakshetra.(1915-2009) with student Kala Ramesh Rao. Photos: Special Arrangement. / The Hindu

    A photographic memory and compassion were the hallmarks of Periya Sarada teacher’s personality.

    The image slowly pixelates on the mind screen. Like a million small pieces of information gleaned from memory, reflection, direct experience and nostalgia, each molecule falls into place on the large canvas of history. What we see is a giant portrait – of a savant, scholar, musician, student, life-long seeker, psychological salve, cultural archaeologist and a life-long loyalist to the cause of Theosophy and the vision of Kalakshetra.

    S. Sarada, (Periya Sarada teacher -(1915-2015) was a shadow. Not invisible, but more like a clear silhouette, a visible presence whose mind proved a perfect catalyst to Rukmini Devi’s dazzling imagination. The founding of Kalakshetra in 1936 attracted many great minds – Tiger Varadachariar, Budalur Krishnamurthy Sastrigal, Mylapore Gowri Ammal, Mysore Vasudevachariar and Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer. But one young woman became the pillar of the institution. She was 24 years old when she joined and became such an integral part of Kalakshetra that Rukmini Devi herself acknowledged that “Srimati S. Sarada is my right hand and a rare embodiment of knowledge, devotion and artistic ability.”

    Born on September 1, 1915, in Thanjavur, Periya Sarada teacher was initiated into learning Sanskrit, Carnatic music – vocal and instrumental – and Advaita philosophy by her grandfather and parents. The density of the Yoga Vasishta, the sweep of Kalidasa’s writings and the commentaries of great teachers such as Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhava comprised her daily reading. Lightning struck when she watched Rukmini Devi at the Madras Music Academy’s general session in 1934. “I was stunned by her striking personality,” she confesses in her book, ‘Kalakshetra-Rumini Devi.’ She continues, “Rukmini Devi had come to witness a dance performance and I was watching Rukmini Devi.” The very next year, Rukmini Devi performed for the Diamond Jubilee of the Theosophical Society and S. Sarada’s initial fascination deepened.

    Rukmini Devi’s charisma and demeanour created an aura that the young Sarada wanted to be close to. The opportunity came when her grandfather Pandit Subramania Sastri came to work at the Adyar Library in 1939. His grand daughter accompanied him and was suddenly thrust into the cosmopolitan society of Madras – the vibrant Theosophical movement.

    When Rukmini Devi invited S. Sarada to attend one of her dance rehearsals in 1939, she was so inspired that she began writing down the notations for the choreography of the dance, ‘Ananda Natana Prakasam.’ Her knowledge of music and Sanskrit came to her aid while she wrote down each line of the choreography with meanings and the sketches of line drawings to reflect the choreography. Rukmini Devi was initially skeptical but looking at the exact notation of each swara and tala pattern that Sarada had painstakingly written down impressed her. The notation system is still followed in Kalakshetra.

    With Rukmini Devi becoming increasingly busy with education, craft revival and attending the Rajya Sabha sessions in New Delhi, it was Periya Sarada teacher who conducted the long rehearsals in Kalakshetra, Chennai. The students and dancers looked forward to her keen eye and unflagging patience. A photographic memory and all encompassing compassion were the hallmarks of S. Sarada’s personality. She was the link between the text and the dancer. Every word, every line and every mood was explained in several ways to the eager students. Even the musicians were in awe of her knowledge. Her tiny room in Kalakshetra, next to Rukmini Devi’s, was always filled with her tiny frame and numerous books and papers. Students lined up to talk to her, ask questions and interpretations for some words in a particular dance. S. Sarada was also a fascinating story teller, who kept children glued under the Adyar banyan tree for hours while grateful parents completed their chores.

    Looking back, one can confidently state that without the patient and dedicated erudition of S. Sarada, Rukmini Devi would have never been able to complete her iconic Ramayana Natya series. One image remains in my memory since 1973. A Post Graduate student at Kalakshetra, I was being taught by Neila Sathyalingam, Sarada Hoffman and N.S. Jayalakshmi. After class, we would all stagger out of the thatched huts and slowly make our way to the exit. Passing by the main theatre, some of us would stop silently and peer through the cane and bamboo divider. It was there that I saw Periya Sarada teacher seated, surrounded by books and papers, in Sanskrit and Tamil, strewn on her lap and her slender body leaning towards Rukmini Devi.

    Through the trellis, I saw dancers Krishnaveni, Janardhanan, Kunhiraman and Balagopal standing quietly on stage, waiting for instructions. Atthai would tilt her head towards Periya Sarada teacher who would be pouring multiple interpretations of the Sanskrit text into Atthai’s fertile mind. At times, Atthai’s voice was sharp, almost a reprimand, but never did Periya Sarada teacher raise hers. When dancers were reduced to tears by some remark from Atthai, it was Sarada who applied the emotional salve to their young wounds. She was a life coach, helping students, guiding the teachers, creating the teaching syllabus, drafting the classes for dance theory and history and being the ‘asthana vidwan’ under the banyan tree.

    How could such a slender frame accommodate so much brilliance? How could her patience and energy never flag for decades?

    Periya Sarada teacher could explain each word or line of a poetic text from the Gita Govindam or a rare Tamil kriti for hours. She could provide endless explanations for each word, thus opening up the possibilities of young minds that flocked to her after class hours. Her hour-long explanation in one of my classes (a surprise rare visit) on the first line of the iconic varnam ‘Roopamu Joochi’ is indelibly etched in my mind. Even today I remember her slender fingers opening out into an ‘alapadma’ to depict the idea of beauty and grace!

    Erudition, patience, dedication, compassion, humility, fierce focus and endless thirst for knowledge – these were the words that appeared and re-appeared in the various articles that I edited for the volume ‘Nirmalam’ on her 90th birthday in 2005. Every writer, Yamini Krishnamurthy, C.V. Chandrasekhar, Dhananjayans, Janardhanan, Katherine Kunhiraman, Leela Samson, C.K. Balagopal and others stressed that Kalakshetra’s choreographic treasures would never have been created and preserved without Periya Sarada’s meticulous notations and enormous generosity towards Rukmini Devi’s vision for the arts.

    My time in Kalakshetra was brief and although I was interested in dance theory and international dance history (I was already an English Literature Graduate from Madras University), I never got a chance to study under Periya Sarada teacher. She was already steeped in the research and creation of the Dasavatara Natya series for Kalakshetra. She did, however, find the time to read my papers which were forwarded to her by Neila Sathyalingam. She added her appreciation on the pages in her neat flawless writing. She also attended two of my performances – in 1978 and 1996. On both occasions, she came back stage, embraced me and stroked my face saying, “Your abhinaya is very good.”

    In 1985, Sarada teacher was cruelly dismissed from service during the Government of India take over of Kalakshetra. Devoid of pension, retirement income or any means of existence, she was nurtured until her last days by her faithful companion and friend since 1939 – G. Sundari.

    The technology of the present day – You Tube, Instagram, live streaming, Facebook – while distracting – may have kept her legacy and thoughts alive in multiple ways.

    Today, her contribution remains a gentle memory for those who were fortunate to study and catch a sliver of her fecund mind.

    In her final days, she sat silent and listless on her wheel chair, gazing into the green vistas of the Theosophical Society which was her home. Dimmed eyesight, a saddened spirit and almost forgotten by the new generation of students and teachers in Kalakshetra, Periya Sarada teacher held her disappointment and ache within her frail body. As much as she adored and admired Rukmini Devi’s pioneering vision for the arts, Sarada was estranged from her idol when she was one of the signatories who aligned against Atthai in a legal issue. S. Sarada maintained that the institution was always larger than the individual. Towards the end of her days, Rukmini Devi and S. Sarada settled their differences but this chasm was heard like a thunderbolt throughout the dance world and stunned all of us.

    Her passing on November 4, 2009, was akin to the felling of an ageless tree. In knowledge Periya Sarada teacher gave shade like a Banyan, in scholarship she towered above all like a Redwood and in grace she healed like a Neem.

    Her final breath came amidst the verdant Theosophical Society, whose most devout student has left generations of dance and music students enriched and blessed with her singular personality.

    September 1 marks the birth centenary of Periya Saradha teacher. The students of Kalakshetra will present a special musical homage at Rukmini Arangham, 6.30 p.m.

    CHENNAI: Danseuse and cultural activist Anita Ratnam at the Crossword bookstore, T.Nagar, in Chennai on October 25, 2006. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

    CHENNAI: Danseuse and cultural activist Anita Ratnam at the Crossword bookstore, T.Nagar, in Chennai on October 25, 2006.
    Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

     

    (The writer, performer-arts entrepreneur, The writer was a Kalakshetra student. She has published a book on S. Sarada’s life. She may be contacted at anitaratnam@yahoo.com; @aratnam)

     source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> Friday Review> Dance / by Anita Ratnam / August 27th, 2015

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