Pulse south asian music and dance
SPRING 2017 - #136
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INSIDE In the Frame Sooraj Subramaniam Reviews Aakash Odedra Jasdeep Singh Degun Lockwood Kipling
sound in print
Sukanya the opera A tribute from Ravi Shankar to his wife
Amit Chaudhuri & David Murphy Librettist and Conductor Young Choreographers Akademi Commissions BBC YoungAnDancer Appreciation kadam
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Pulse Spring 2017 — Issue 136 ISSN 1476-6019 Published by Kadam Asian Dance and Music c/o The Carnival Centre 3 St Mary’s Road, Luton LU1 3JA +44 7905 268887 Editorial Team Commissioning Editor Sanjeevini Dutta
136 /Contents 16
2 Editorial/News 3 News/Listings 6
Assistant Editor Gopa Roy Editorial and Marketing Assistant Parbati Jill Chaudhury Design Art Director Pritpal Ajimal Photography Director Simon Richardson
Subscriptions, Advertising & Info email@example.com
The Opera Enthusiast Charles Robertson shares his enthusiasm for opera.
The Librettist – Amit Chaudhuri Writer and musician Amit Chaudhuri talked to Ken Hunt about Ravi Shankar, comic books and telling the ancient story of Sukanya in a modern Indian tradition.
In The Frame – The Dancers’ Dancer Sooraj Subramaniam captured in rehearsal by Simon Richardson.
Contacts firstname.lastname@example.org Disclaimer Pulse is published by Kadam Asian Dance and Music. Kadam are a part of SADA (South Asian Dance Alliance). No part of the magazine may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. Copyright of the text is shared with its authors. Copyright of the photographs/images reside with contributing photographers/ artists. All other rights reserved. The views/opinions expressed in Pulse are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. While reasonable effort has been made to avoid errors, no liability will be accepted for any that may have inadvertently occurred.
14 Orchestrating Sukanya – Composer David Murphy worked regularly with Ravi Shankar. He spoke to May Robertson about the intensity of their projects and how he approached his orchestration of Sukanya.
15 Supporting Sukanya – Bagri Foundation Doria Tichit writes about the Bagri Foundation, who have funded the première of Sukanya. 16
Young Pulse Cultivating Young Choreographers Shivaangee Agrawal, Manuela Benini, Parbati Chaudhury, Raheem Mir and Seeta Patel tell Gopa Roy about the visions that Akademi’s Choreography Commissions are helping them to realise.
BBC Young Dancer As we look forward to BBC Young Dancer 2017 Pulse proofreader Pamela Covey shares her response to the first series.
Reviews – Dance Performance Echoes and I Imagine (Aakash Odedra)
Music Performance The Bridge (Jasdeep Singh Degun)
Exhibition Arts & Crafts in the Punjab & London (Lockwood Kipling)
Annual subscription £32 with free delivery Cheques payable to Kadam, c/o The Carnival Centre 3 St Mary’s Road, Luton LU1 3JA. For online subscriptions and payments please visit www.pulseconnects.com
connecting asian dance and music communities
Pulse serves the arts sector by recording, critiquing, profiling and archiving South Asian dance and music in the UK through Pulse magazine and the website: www.pulseconnects.com. The magazine relies solely on income from subscriptions, advertising and donations. All donations welcome through our website www.pulseconnects.com Kadam forms part of the SADA Alliance
Ravi Shankar and Sukanya – The Pull of the Myth Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya explores common ground in music from east and west and draws on myth and personal experience. As it receives its première this spring, Ken Hunt tells the story behind this music, dance and drama creation.
Contents Page Photo Credits FC 3 6 9 12 16 20
Ravi and Sukanya Shankar | Photo: Courtesy Sukanya Shankar Bahauddin Dagar | Photo: Arnhel De Serra Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar| Photo: Courtesy Ravi Shakar Foundation Pirashanna Thevarajah | Photo: Sim Canetty Clarke Sooraj Subramaniam | Photo: Simon Richardson Manuela Benini | Photo: Courtesy Akademi Pamela Covey | Photo: Courtesy the Author
SPRING 2017 PULSE 1
UPFRONT — LETTER FROM THE EDITOR/NEWS
Buckingham Palace on 27 February saw the palace frontage lit with silhouettes of classical dance. Artists and organisation representatives from India and the UK shook Dear Reader hands with the Queen. Amidst the celebrations, reminders of the We look forward with great harshness and exploitative nature of anticipation to Ravi Shankar’s the colonial relationship came from only and posthumous opera writer and former UN diplomat Sukanya, the central focus of this Shashi Tharoor. He rightly pointed issue. It was the last project that out in his V&A talk with newly kept the restless, creative energies appointed Director Tristram Hunt of Panditji channelled as he that British schools do not teach the approached his death in December history of the nation’s colonial past. 2012. A tribute to his wife Sukanya, In an era of ever-narrowing we expect the opera will have the horizons expressed through events irrepressible zest for life that made like Brexit, the victory of Trump Ravi Shankar’s music both so and the growing popularity of appealing and so universal. nationalistic parties in Europe and We will all have had our beyond, the arts still represent favourite Ravi Shankar encounter a ‘common ground’ of mutual and for me the theme music he respect and inclusivity. We can be scored and played for the film the voice of sanity in the current Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955) ‘theatre of political absurdism’. In was the moment I fell in love with the Age of Hate, as described by Indian classical music. Listening to Pankaj Mishra, the arts can offer ‘a the track again tonight after many society and a community’. years, I still felt the same piercing Meanwhile, with such a pathos, the same quickening crowded diary of events, there excitement as the melody and should be something to catch phrasing conjured simultaneously everyone’s attention, whether it’s the beauty of nature and the pain of the finals of BBC Young Dancer poverty in rural Bengal. 2017 or the new opera or any Panditji’s music touched number of performances at the hearts, regardless of culture and Nehru Centre or the Southbank background. The working-class and around the country, we have Liverpudlian George Harrison came a great spring season coming up. under its spell, as did violin maestro We would love to receive your Yehudi Menuhin. Ravi Shankar’s comments via letter, Facebook or collaborations with musicians and Twitter; it’s more fun to share. artists, whether jugalbandis with brother-in-law Ali Akbar Khan Sanjeevini or experiments with the London Symphony Orchestra, kept up the dialogue with the wider world and gave subsequent generations of Alchemy Festival artists a model to emulate. This brings me neatly to This year’s lively exchange another sitar player’s foray of ideas between the Indian into composition with Western subcontinent and the UK at the musicians. Jasdeep Degun’s The Bridge , a composition for sitar and Southbank Centre opens in the Royal Festival Hall on 19 May with string quartet, gets an in-depth write-up from Matt Pritchard. The Ravi Shankar’s opera Sukanya reviewer refers to the seminal Ravi (see our feature in this issue). The Nrityagram Dance Shankar and the LSO Concerto for Ensemble presents their first Sitar and Orchestra, and notes international collaboration with that the former was based largely on a sawaal-jawaab idiom. Young the Chitrasena Dance Company in Samhära (26 May). Innovative Degun, he comments, takes a dance works include Conditions of ‘more ambitious and creative approach’, confronting the divide Carriage – The Jumping Project, choreographed by Preethi Athreya, between Western harmony and in which ten contemporary Indian melody. Having heard an early presentation of The Bridge at performers from across India negotiate the force of gravity the Karamel Club, Wood Green, it was apparent that this piece would on the roof of the Royal Festival Hall (21 May), and Queen-size, a go places. choreographed duet responding to The seventieth-anniversary celebrations of Indian and Pakistani Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality in independence launched at
Letter from the Editor
2 PULSE SPRING 2017
India, played out on a charpoy, a traditional Indian bed (19 May). The celebrated Sufi singer from Pakistan, Abida Parveen, performs on 28 May, and there will be a treat for Bollywood fans from the musical duo Vishal and Shekhar. Southbank Centre’s YUVA returns for the sixth year in a showcase of the best South Asian youth dance from across the country (29 May) and Choreogata presents new dance works from five young choreographers (29 May). A number of intimate theatre pieces will explore the power of personal stories of family, immigration and diaspora with the UK première of No Dogs, No Indians by poet and playwright Siddhartha Bose (21 May) and Labels, a story about mixed heritage and immigration from writer and performer Joe SellmanLeava (27 May). Jyoti Dogra’s Notes on Chai, a collection of snippets of everyday conversations interwoven with abstract sound explorations attempts to relocate the audience’s relationship with
vocalist Ranjana Ghatak will be running a practical singing course for all abilities to introduce audiences to this piece, designed for those unfamiliar with opera and Indian classical music. Three sessions will combine singing as well as spoken presentation and discussion from invited experts. Participants will take part in a pop-up foyer performance before they take their seats for the opera itself on 19 May. No prior
Nrityagram | Photo: Uma Dhanwatey
experience of singing or sightreading is required. 1, 8, 15 & 19 May | 6.30‒9.30 pm | Level 5 Function Room £45 for the course (includes a ticket to Sukanya, £15 value) www.southbankcentre.co.uk
News from the Asian Arts Agency Abida Parveen | Photo: Courtesy Southbank Centre
the quotidian (25 & 26 May) and The Diary of a Hounslow Girl, told through the eyes of a 16-year-old British Muslim girl, highlights the challenges of being brought up as a young woman in a traditional Muslim family alongside the temptations and influences of London (23‒24 May). The lives of Bangladeshi garment workers are explored in Made, a work-inprogress performance by Target Theatre Company (24 May) and actor, comedian and YouTube sensation Mawaan Rizwan returns to Alchemy with his brand-new show Twerk in Progress (25 May). The Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre Awards will be presented on 21 May. The festival continues its work with national partners Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Black Country Touring and Cast, Doncaster. Each partner curates their own bespoke Alchemy programme, featuring local and regional artists, running alongside the festival in London. Voicelab into Opera: Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya In the lead-up to Sukanya,
Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group Qawwali-lovers around the country are looking forward to evenings with the RizwanMuazzam group from Pakistan, touring from 22 March. The nephews of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan have been continuing this tradition of Sufi devotional and ecstatic music since his death twenty years ago.
Photo: Courtesy Asian Arts Agency
Punjabtronix Punjabtronix is a new music project that brings a live mix of electronic dance music with Punjabi dhol drums, vocals, traditional sarangi and tumbi stringed instruments and the hypnotic-sounding double flute algoza. The project is commissioned and produced by the Asian Arts Agency in partnership with Watershed, Bristol to promote
NEWS — UPFRONT
international collaborations and is a response to Re-Imagine India, a cultural exchange programme designed to develop creative collaborations between England and India as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of India’s independence taking place in 2017. The Punjabtronix residency has been taking place in India in 2017. Look out for UK tour dates in July.
Giridhar Udupa (ghatam) and Surdarshan Chana (jori),
with vocalists Manjusha Patil Kulkarni (khayal), Ranjani & Gayatri (khayal) and Pelva Naik (dhrupad).
Ravenna Festival – A Passage to India For two months every summer the beautiful town of Ravenna, with its gilded, mosaic-encrusted basilicas, elegant historical theatres, ancient buildings, even the beach and pine forest,
Junon | Photo: Courtesy Ravenna Festival
Ravenna Festival 25 May – 11 July Darbar Festival in Ravenna 22–24 June www.ravennafestival.org
Political Fall-Out in the Suburbs London-based Kali Theatre has been establishing a reputation for its work by British South Asian female playwrights. Ready or Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna. Not is a new thriller by Naylah Photo: Courtesy Ravenna Festival Ahmed that focuses on the becomes the stage for a festival of impact of wider political events music, dance, opera and theatre. in a claustrophobic domestic This year the festival has a Passage setting. “Complex characters to India strand, featuring [grapple] with obsessive, difficult Material Men (Shobana Jeyasingh emotions…played out against a Dance, 10 June, Alighieri Theatre), backdrop of disturbing internet Anoushka Shankar’s Land of chat rooms” (Helena Bell, Kali’s Gold (Church of San Giacomo, new Artistic Director). In the cast Forlì, 9 July) and Junun, a project are Joan Blackham, Naeem Hayat by Radiohead guitarist Jonny and Natasha Rickman. Greenwood, Shye Ben Tzur and 5-6 April at mac Birmingham, the Rajasthan Express. then touring. Darbar will be presenting www.kalitheatre.co.uk performances and demonstrations over three days. Instrumentalists include
People Dancing honours with life membership
Debasmita Bhattacharya Photo: Courtesy Ravenna Festival
Praveen Godhkhindi (bansuri), Subhankar Banerjee (tabla), Shashank Subramanium (bansuri), Murad Ali (sarangi), Gurdain Rayatt (tabla), Debasmita Bhattacharya (sarod), Bahauddin Dagar (rudra veena), Jyotsna Srikanth (violin), Patri Satish Kumar (mridangam),
Folk Dance and Song Society in December 2016. Bisakha Sarker was the first dance animateur appointed by the Liverpool City Council and Arts Council North West for Liverpool and Merseyside in 1984. This launched Bisakha’s career
Kathak guru Sujata Banerjee, Pulse editor Sanjeevini Dutta and Creative (Uday Shankar) dancer Bisakha Sarker MBE were three of the thirty pioneers of community dance honoured by People Dancing, the development organisation and membership body for community and participatory dance. The awards were announced at a special thirtieth anniversary celebration event held at Cecil Sharp House, London, home of the English
Life Members at the organisation’s 30th anniversary celebration | Photo: Richard Parr
as a performer and educator and the four subsequent decades of her contribution to South Asian dance. Sanjeevini and Sujata were dance development officers for Bedfordshire and the East of England and set up Kadam in the early 1990s. Kadam became a registered charity in 1995 and is the current publisher of Pulse magazine.
Eye Within I benefits from mentors Kathak and contemporary dancer Jaivant Patel created Eye Within I for One Dance UK’s Together For Dance Gala that took place in
Jaivant Patel | Photo: Matt Cawrey
October 2016. He was fortunate to have received guidance from two senior artists whom he greatly admires: Bisakha Sarker and Nahid Siddiqui. The mentorship, he believes, had a profound effect on his artistic practice. Jaivant has been training in kathak with Nahid and similarly working with Bisakha on creativity in dance. Through the process of refining dance vocabulary, understanding the aesthetics that underpin it and the relationship between music and movement, his dance, he believes, has become richer and deeper. Jaivant says: “The most valuable lessons in any medium of art can be learned from those who have vast experience of working
within them. Bisakha and Nahid have breathed new life into my becoming a ‘thinking’ artist.”
Building for the Future Among issues raised at the Navadisha Conference last year were leadership and the development of the South Asian dance sector. To follow up, a series of five meetings for the SADAA National Network co-ordinated by Anita Srivastava have been planned
Talking dance and its future | Photo: Jaivant Patel
over eighteen months around the country to discuss these matters and share ideas. The first of these took place in Leeds in February, hosted by Keran Kaur of SAA-UK. Dance artists and wider dance organisations including representatives from Phoenix Dance Theatre, Arts Council England North, Yorkshire Dance, Ilkley Literature Festival and Stage@ Leeds met to discuss challenges and look at opportunities and potential future collaborations. Informative presentations and lively discussions made for a valuable day. The next meeting will take place in London in June, hosted by Akademi.
The Seventieth Year Events in art, music, theatre, design, performing arts, film and literature will be taking place across the country throughout the year to mark the seventieth anniversary of India’s independence and the creation of Pakistan. The UK/India Year of Culture 2017, led by the Nehru Centre (High Commission of India) and the British Council, was launched at a reception hosted by Buckingham Palace on 27 February. Arunima Kumar and dancers Archna Patel, Bhagya Lakshmi Thyagarajan, Helene Lesage, Sanjona Showmi Das, Shivani Sethia, Jesal Patel, Elena Catalano and Debanjali Biswas performed for members of the royal family and guests. SPRING 2017 PULSE 3
UPFRONT — NEWS
Dancing in Buckingham Palace Photo: Courtesy High Commission of India
Look out for highlights of events in our newsletter and on social media. Further information: http://uk-india.britishcouncil. in/explore
A Twirl Over Tea Older adults in Chingford and Leyton are enjoying tea dances
melodic fragments of popular Qawwalis that had been digitally reworked, layered, stretched and disembodied. The new arrangements were influenced in part by the emotional responses of listeners who took part in exploratory workshops during the first phase of the project in autumn 2016, with additional input from psychologists and scientists at the University of Birmingham. Harmeet Chagger-Khan, Creative Producer for Qawwali Shrine says: “We were excited that the evening…caught the imagination of people who had never heard Qawwali sounds, as well as that of the passionate enthusiasts... Some people debated the importance of truly understanding the lyrics within the Qawwalis on an intellectual level [while] others celebrated the spiritual sensation that the music inspired within them.” The next stage of Qawwali Shrine took place in February 2017, monitoring the heart rate
Theatre The Diary Of A Hounslow Girl :: Ambreen Razia With Black Theatre Live Hat Factory, Luton www.lutonculture.com
Colours of Radiance | Photo: Simon Richardson
and performances. A digital documentary of its history, created by young participants, has been shown in a special event at the New Walk Museum in Leicester on 10 March.
The latest phase of the Qawwali Shrine project was a sonic exploration of Qawwali music on 26 January at mac Birmingham. The project is mapping physiological, psychological and emotional responses to Qawwali music and exploring whether states of enlightenment and feelings such as rasa, fana or ‘the sublime’ can be experienced, measured and artistically represented through new technology. Artist Tasawar Bashir collaborated with the team from BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre) to present a soundscape featuring 4 PULSE SPRING 2017
Music Tribute to MS Subbulakshmi :: S. Aishwarya Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net
Book Launch/Music/Panel Discusssion Dhrupad of the Dagars, Conceptual Foundations and its Contemporary Questions :: Ashish Sankrityayan Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk Lecture The Phulkari Baghs of the Doab :: Arjmand Aziz SOAS, London www.soas.ac.uk
MARCH Till early 2018
Exhibition Home in the City, Bombay 1976-Mumbai 2016 :: Sooni Taraporevala Whitworth Gallery, Manchester www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk
Till 19 Mar
Exhibition Idris Khan Whitworth Gallery, Manchester www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk Film 19th London Asian Film Festival Various Venues, London www.tonguesonfire.com/events/
Tea dance | Photo: Courtesy Akademi
Qawwali Soundscape Sensations
Till 25 Mar
with a twist: Akademi’s Dance Well project has been awarded a two-year commission to introduce popular Bollywood tunes and moves at these monthly events. Social dancing is known to help improve health and wellbeing. Claire Farmer, Akademi’s officer for the project, says: “Dance is such a powerful tool for social engagement… people can learn new skills, dance to some wonderful music, meet old friends and make new ones.”
Dance Workshop & Performance Indian Martial Dance: Madhubanj Chhau :: Carolina Prada Chisenhale Dance Space, London chhaudancesangam.wordpress.com
Till 26 Mar
Exhibition/Lectures Embroidered Tales & Woven Dreams: traditional embroidered textiles from the lands of the Indus, Afghanistan, the Near East and Central Asia SOAS, London www.soas.ac.uk/gallery/ embroidered-tales Exhibition Beyond Pop:: Chila Burman Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk
Dance Workshop & Performance Tradition in Transition – A Mayurbhanj Chhau recital :: Carolina Prada Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk
Symposium The Indian heroine in history, art & performance Weston Library, Bodleian, Oxford www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk
22 then Music touring Rizwan–Muazzam Qawwali :: Asian Arts Agency Luton Library Theatre, Luton asianartsagency.co.uk/ 23
Workshop Problems of Chronology In Gandharan Art :: Gandhara Connections Project / CARC Oxford Ioannou Centre For Classical And Byzantine Studies, Oxford www.carc.ox.ac.uk
Dance Margam :: Sooraj Subramaniam Rich Mix, London www.richmix.org.uk
Exhibition We Are The Lions :: Grunwick 40 Library At Willesden Green, London www.brent.gov.uk Till 19 Jun
Photo: Jessica Smith
and Galvanic Skin Response of participants as they listened to samples of Qawwali. For further information, email email@example.com or call Harmeet on 07448 267 243. Twitter: @qawwali_shrine
16 then touring till 5 May 16-19
Dance Salaam :: Sonia Sabri Company Seven Arts, Leeds www.saa-uk.org
Music Ghazal, Thumri & Kheyal Festival :: Saudha Wimbledon Library, Wimbledon www.saudha.org
Simi Obra, Sampad South Asian Arts
A Digital Documentary The Nupur Arts Dance Academy, founded by Smita Vardnekar, has been celebrating twenty-five years of creating and supporting dance and other cultural activities in and around Leicester with exhibitions, workshops
Exhibition Splendours Of The Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875-76 Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford www.bradfordmuseums.org
Music Resonance :: London Sitar Academy Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net Music Music For The Mind And Soul :: Mehboob Nadeem, Arnab Chakrabarty and Kousic Sen Bridgewater Hall, Manchester www.milapfest.com
Dance/Festival Holi: Basant ke Rang :: Jaivant Patel Dance & Arena Theatre Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton www.wlv.ac.uk Music Music For The Mind And Soul :: Roopa Panesar with Kirpal Singh Panesar and Kaviraj Singh Dhadyalla Capstone Theatre, Liverpool www.milapfest.com
Exhibition/Fair Asia House Fair Asia House, London asiahouse.org
Film Leicester Asian Film Festival Phoenix Cinema, Leicester leicesterasianfilmfestival.com 18
Music Indian Music Odyssey :: Brij Narayan, Harsh Narayan, Sunanda Sharma, Sanju Sahai Cadogan Hall, London www.cadoganhall.com
Music The Seed Launch Performance :: Seven Eyes The Tabernacle, London www.seveneyesofficial.com 26
Music Qawwali :: Rizwan-Muazzam Group Sage, Gateshead www.gemarts.org Dance/Music Bangladesh Independence Day :: Celebration Udichi Artists Rich Mix, London www.richmix.org.uk Music No Boundaries :: Shapla Salique Rich Mix, London www.richmix.org.uk
LISTINGS — UPFRONT Dance A tribute to Padma Bhushan Smt Kalanidhi Narayanan :: Annapoorna Kuppuswamy & Chamundeeswari Kuppuswamy Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk
Dance Bharatanatyam Showcase :: Kshetra Dance Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net 27
Music Qawwali :: Rizwan-Muazzam Group Barbican, London www.barbican.org.uk Panel Discussion Democracy And The Arts In Europe: Artists In A Global World :: Invoke Democracy Now Rich Mix, London www.richmix.org.uk Music StringFEST 2017 - Festival of Plucked and Bowed Instruments: Sitar :: Clem Alford Nehru Centre www.sama.co.uk
Dance Virago :: Sonia Sabri Company Arena Theatre, Woverhampton www.wlv.ac.uk Music zerOclassikal Basement Session :: Arani & Akash Karamel Club, Wood Green www.karamel.london
Workshops Responses to Art: Curator’s tour and drawing workshop re. ‘Splendours of the Subcontinent’/ Mehndi Meet Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford www.bradfordmuseums.org
Music StringFEST: Festival Of Plucked & Bowed Instruments: Veena Recital :: Gayatri Govindrajan Ajay Nehru Centre, London www.sama.co.uk
Music Qawwali :: Rizwan-Muazzam Group Town Hall, Birmingham www.thsh.co.uk
Theatre Loyalty And Dissent :: Tamasha Scratch Night Rich Mix, London www.richmix.org.uk Drama/Music The Story Of A Gallinule Hunter :: RadhaRaman Society Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk Theatre Made In India :: Tamasha With Belgrade Theatre And Pilot Theatre Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton www.lutonculture.com
Music StringFEST: Raga Strings :: Jyotsna Srikanth and Vindla String Quartet Tileyard Studios, London www.sama.co.uk
Music Workshop Voicelab Into Opera: Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya :: Ranjana Ghatak Southbank Centre, London www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Music GUYO & Bengal To Bethnal Green Rich Mix, London www.richmix.org.uk
Film India On Film:Bollywood 2.0 BFI, London whatson.bfi.org.uk
Seminar Pilgrimage and Politics in Colonial Bengal: The Myth of the Goddess Sati :: Imma Ramos SOAS, London www.soas.ac.uk
Music StringFEST 2017 - Festival of Plucked and Bowed Instruments: Violin :: Raginder Singh Nehru Centre, London www.sama.co.uk
Music Qalandar Festival :: Fanna-FiAllah, Azad Kashmir Folk Group, Azhar Hussain Qawwa mac, Birmingham www.macbirmingham.co.uk
Music Venu Gaanam :: Shantala Subramanyam, Shradha Ravindran & Anirudha Bhat Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk
Music Vocal And Sarod Recital :: Prateek Shrivastava, Rajkumar Misra, Prabhat Rao, Dhanraj Persaud Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net
Music Women in Music Festival: Khayal Recital :: Gauri Pathare Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk
Music Mandolin Srinivas Memorial Concerts :: Nagai Sriram Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net Music StringFEST: Oud / Esraj / Tar Shehnai :: Attab Haddad, Kirpal Panesar Tileyard Studios, London www.sama.co.uk
Music Surge In Spring :: John Mayer’s Indo Jazz Fusion mac, Birmingham www.macbirmingham.co.uk 9
Music Celebrate India! :: SAMYO & Sabrang Beck Theatre, Hayes www.milapfest.com Music Balleilakka! The incredible sounds of South Asian choral music :: National Youth Training Choir Tarang Percussion Ensemble Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham www.trch.co.uk
13 Exhibition 20 Aug Threads of Empire: Rule and Resistance in Colonial India, c.1740-1840 Weston Gallery, Nottingham www.lakesidearts.org.uk 14
Dance Workshops Dance Into Alchemy: Odissi Southbank Centre, London www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Music Silk Road :: Agudo Dance Company Lilian Baylis Studio, London www.sadlerswells.com
Music Sufi Equality Within Global Spheres :: Fanna-Fi-Allah SOAS, London www.fanna-fi-allah.com
5–13 Musical Theatre Miss Meena And The Masala then touring Queens :: Rifco Arts Watford Palace Theatre, Watford www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk 6– 13 May then touring 6
Festival Vaisakhi Celebrations Civic Centre, Gateshead www. gemarts.org 26
Music Lunchtime Concert :: Roopa Panesar, Kousic Sen University of Liverpool, Liverpool www.milapfest.com Dance Parampara: Odissi Recital :: Sonali Mishra Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk
Music Carnatic Violin Duet :: M. Lalitha and M. Nandini Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk
Music The Power of the Jugalbandi :: Tarun Bhattacharya, Ronu Majumdar Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net
Musical Theatre Bring On The Bollywood :: Phizzical Belgrade Theatre, Coventry www.belgrade.co.uk Dance/Spoken Word Chaurapanchasika :: Payal Ramchandani Seven Arts, Leeds www.saa-uk.org Music Hindustani Vocal Concert :: Shantanu Bandopadhyay Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net
Music Bhinna Abhinna :: Ramya Mohan, Balu Raguraman Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net
Dance Gods & Mortals :: Odissi Ensemble Sunderland Cathedral, Sunderland www.gemarts.org Dance Abhisaar :: Nirupama and Rajendra (Abhinava Dance Company) Capstone Theatre, LIverpool www.milapfest.com Lecture Sannidhi Dialogues :: Dr Ramya Mohan Cornerstone Building, Liverpool www.milapfest.com
28 & 29 Dance Material Men redux :: Shobana Jeyasingh Dance The Place, London www.theplace.org.uk
Festival Celebration Of Bengali New Year :: Bangla Noboborsho Udjapon Porishod, RadhaRaman Society Rich Mix, London www.richmix.org.uk Music Hindustani Vocal Concert :: Shrinivas Joshi Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net
Dance BBC Young Dancer Final Sadler’s Wells, London www.sadlerswells.com Music StringFEST: Festival Of Plucked & Bowed Instruments: Sarod, Dilruba, Sarangi :: Gurdev Singh, Surjeet Singh, Manjeet Singh Rasiya Dominion Centre, London www.sama.co.uk
Music Mandolin Srinivas Memorial Concerts :: Ramakrishnan Murthy Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net Film Screening & Discussion Sabarmati Ashram: The Home of Gandhi’s Experiments with Truth :: Vijay Rana Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk
Music Najma Akhtar – Five Rivers Library Theatre, Luton www.lutonculture.com Music Baul & Vaishnav Music Festival :: Radharaman Society Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk
Music Mandolin Srinivas Memorial Concerts :: Malladi Brothers Bhavan Centre, London www.bhavan.net
Theatre Made In India :: Tamasha With Belgrade Theatre And Pilot Theatre Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton www.lutonculture.com 1, 8, 15, 19
Talk Separation of Powers: God in Politics :: Indarjit Singh, Sayed Razawi Southbank Centre, London www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Dance Solo Bharatanatyam Recital :: Shivaangee Agarwal Nehru Centre, London www.nehrucentre.org.uk 31
Music Baul & Vaishnav Music Festival :: Radharaman Society Rich MIx, London www.richmix.org.uk
5–6 Theatre Ready Or Not :: Kali Theatre and touring Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham www.kalitheatre.co.uk
Film Raman Raghav 2.0 (aka Psycho Raman) :: Dir: Anurag Kashyap BFI, London whatson.bfi.org.uk 30
17 & 24 Dance Workshops Dance Into Alchemy: Bollywood, Odissi & Kathak Southbank Centre, London www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Theatre Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya :: Aakash Odedra Company, Royal Opera House, LPO Curve Theatre, Leicester www.bagrifoundation.org
Music Music for the Mind and Soul :: Tarun Bhattacharya, Ronu Majumdar & Kousic Sen Capstone Theatre, Liverpool www.milapfest.com
Spoken Word No Place Like Home: Poetry, Identity & Belonging In A Brexit Britain :: Kayo Chingonyi, Jo Shapcott, Nia Davies, Siddhartha Bose, Claire Trevien, Clare Pollard. Rich Mix, London www.richmix.org.uk
15 & 22 Dance Workshop Dance Into Alchemy: Kathak Southbank Centre, London www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Music Music for the Mind and Soul :: Tarun Bhattacharya, Ronu Majumdar & Kousic Sen Bridgewater Hall, Manchester www.milapfest.com
Dance Workshop Abhisaar :: Nirupama and Rajendra (Abhinava Dance Company) Cornerstone Building, Liverpool www.milapfest.com
Lecture Distorting History: Robert Clive and the Capture of Bengal in 1757 :: Roy Moxham LSE, London www.lse.ac.uk SPRING 2017 PULSE 5
SUKANYA — RAVI SHANKAR
Ravi Shankar and Sukanya The Pull of the Myth bit.ly/136suk01
The tale of a princess who disturbs an aged sage’s meditation has universal resonance. Ravi Shankar was drawn to the story, seeing perhaps an echo of his own. His opera Sukanya (meaning ‘a beautiful girl’) receives its première this May. Ken Hunt gives us the background and context. By Ken Hunt
6 PULSE SPRING 2017
“…Sukanya is not the first opera to draw on Indian antiquity...” But first, some context… Sukanya is not the first opera to draw on Indian antiquity, nor will it be the last. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the composer Gustav Holst came under India’s spell. In the words of John Warrack’s entry on him in the Dictionary of National Biography, he was ‘drawn to Hindu literature and mysticism’. It could be said that he dipped his toe in the era’s Orientalism but Holst went further and deeper, studying Hindu texts and Sanskrit. Savitri (1908) and Choral Hymns From The Rig Veda (1908‒1912) are fruits of this. Yet prior to these works, he had toiled on and off between 1900 and 1906 on an opera called Siva. It never quite flew. In 1985 the London-born composer Colin Matthews, who had worked with the composer’s only daughter, the musician Imogen Holst, wrote: “The opera was never performed, and its libretto is hardly less stilted than the models.” It was of its time and largely without Indian musical references. For example, A.H. Fox Strangways’ benchmark book The Music of Hindoostan wasn’t published until 1914. Holst subsequently dismissed Siva pithily as “good old Wagnerian bawling”. During the 1920s the British composer John Foulds combined opera, Indian music and literature. His Avatara, in the words of Malcolm Macdonald in the notes
Ravi Shankar and Fellow musician | Photo: Courtesy of ravi shankar foundation
to the 2004 recording with the Sakari Oramo-conducted City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, was “a mysterious Sanskrit opera […] which he eventually abandoned and destroyed.” Given the combined passion for Indian culture and music of its composer and his vina- and tabla-playing wife Maud MacCarthy, what survived – the three preludes to The Three Mantras– points to a real loss.
“...he slipped into the role of multicultural champion.” During his lifetime, Ravi Shankar became incontestably one of the four most famous Indians on the planet, not only in the arts and through connections such as George Harrison, but in the world’s wider consciousness. His name was there alongside only Tagore, Gandhi and Nehru. Born Robindra Shankar Chowdhury in April 1920 in Varanasi on the banks of the River Ganges/Ganga in modern-day Uttar Pradesh, he slipped into the role of multicultural champion. That all started early. In November 1930 he was reunited with his extended family in Paris and joined his big brother, the dancer and choreographer Uday Shankar’s Compagnie de Danse et Musique Hindou (‘Company of Indian Dance and Music’), a cultural sensation that travelled as much of the world as steamship and impresario granted.
As its most junior member, Robindra ‒ still Robu for short ‒ began observing the incomprehension of Europeans and Americans confounded by the apparent complexity and sheer foreignness of Hindustani classical music. Dare I suggest that learning how to articulate and deliver the music’s melodic and rhythmic structures, traditions and nuances underpinned his life’s work? His experiments with crossover forms are strewn across the decades and in many cases ‘frozen’ as recordings. A sample might include collaborating with Yehudi Menuhin, André Previn, Zubin Mehta or Philip Glass, with the Ravi Shankar Project’s Tana Mana, with David Murphy on Shankar’s Symphony or with tabla maestro supreme Alla Rakha, koto-player Susumu Miyashta and shakuhachi-player Hozan Yamamoto on the, for its time, unique Indo-Japanese collaboration Towards The Rising Sun.
“...Menuhin came across a book on yoga.” Sukanya was up against an entirely different clock. Begun in earnest in 2011, the countdown to his death in December 2012 was under way. In a manner of speaking, it might be said that Sukanya’s clock started ticking in 1952. Early that year, while on tour in New Zealand, Menuhin came across a book on yoga. Reading it fed a yearning to visit India. Anoushka Shankar and Sukanya Shankar | Photo: SIM CANETTY CLARKE
he starting-point of Pandit Ravi Shankar’s only opera Sukanya is a minor tale in the Mahābhārata, idiomatically, ‘great tale of the Bhārata [dynasty]’. Musically worked up from Shankar’s musical sketches and verbal steers and realised by David Murphy, its librettist Amit Chaudhuri is the very person to treat myth as malleable raw material rather than immutable certainty when realising Shankar’s vision. The Panditji of my acquaintanceship would have approved. After all, milking and, indeed, churning myths or traditional folktales for stories or plots is the common currency of opera. Transferred tales of brave Orpheus, for example, touched opera, notably Claudio Monteverdi and librettist Alessandro Striggio’s L’Orfeo, Christoph Willibald Gluck and Ranieri de’ Calzabigi’s Orfeo ed Euridice and Joseph Haydn and Carlo Francesco Badini’s L’anima del filosofo, ossia Orfeo ed Euridice (‘The Soul of the Philosopher, or Orpheus and Euridice’) while, as ‘King Orfeo’, it was seminal enough to rank nineteenth out of hundreds in Francis J. Child’s The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Like these ‘Orpheus outputs’, the Sukanya tale is laced with allegory.
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SUKANYA — RAVI SHANKAR
Coincidentally, shortly afterwards he received an invitation from Prime Minister Nehru to perform there. That February Menuhin was invited to a house recital held at the Delhi home of Dr Narayana Menon. Performing were Ravi Shankar, his brother-in-law the sarodist Ali Akbar Khan and Chatur Lal (the first tabla pioneer for the wider world). A new era in the history of Northern Indian classical music was about to be ushered in. Not only did Menuhin become a champion supreme of Hindustani music and willingly lent his name to its wider popularisation and appreciation of Indian art music, but it lit the blue touch-paper for West Meets East, Shankar and Menuhin’s ground-breaking East-West classical music collaboration declared Best Chamber Music Performance at the 1968 Grammy ceremonies.
On reflection, a more apt year for when the first tile for the Sukanya mosaic was laid might be 1992. That was when an obscure episode in the nebulous Mahābhārata first registered with him. It is one of the principal Hindu epics. Historians and linguists tell us it started life in Sanskrit, only one of the subcontinent’s scholarly linguae francae. It has been translated into a great many languages, into celluloid, digital and television drama and inspired sundry art forms. Shankar connected with it. At the time his mother-in-law Parvati Rajan was staying with him and his wife, Sukanya.
In Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty’s Other Peoples’ Myths: The Cave of Echoes (Macmillan Publishing, 1988), the tale is distilled as ‘the story of the aged sage, Chyavana, who is rejuvenated so that he could marry a beautiful young girl called Sukanya.’ Amit Chaudhuri’s libretto for Sukanya is no religious tract or folkloric archetype gussied up for sopranos and arias. It is a love story, albeit based on a downright “We were in Delhi in the Lodhi Estate recondite tale. Already full of twists, turns, house,” says Sukanya Shankar. “Way back in a temptation and a test of love, its fertile 1992, my mother had come to stay with us for ground includes yogic meditation, an a bit and when she saw me doing things for everyday anthill misunderstanding, blinding Raviji she said, ‘I named you right.’ So, Raviji and rejuvenation. “It’s not a straight love asked, ‘What’s that?’ So, she told him the story, no,” its librettist agrees. story about the Sukanya in the Mahābhārat “Firstly,” he continues, “it’s a man and how this younger princess was married whose meditation has been disturbed by to this older man and how she brought back somebody. He’s been injured by this woman youth to him. He said, ‘Ah, what a lovely who he ends up marrying and being happy thing! I’d love to do a ballet…’ – he didn’t say with. It’s a marriage between a young opera at that time – ‘…or something.’ We woman and an old man – an old man who’s didn’t talk about it afterwards. But he loved a sage and a young woman who’s a princess. the story so much that he’d often say that to Secondly, there are competitors who aren’t me, ‘Your mum named you right.’” human beings but demi-gods or whatever who want the woman.”
“I’d love to do a ballet… or something.”
“It is a love story… full of twists, turns, a “It took his mothertemptation and a test…” in-law…to alert Ravi Shankar…to this story’s existence.” 8 PULSE SPRING 2017
Ravi Shankar 1993 at home in Encinitas photo: Santosh Hunt/Swing 51 Archives
“...an obscure episode in the nebulous Mahābhārata... registered with him.”
Culturally, Ravi Shankar was steeped in Bengali culture and Hinduism. (“You know, he might not have known a particular thing,” says his wife, “but he was very wellversed in them and that fed into his knack for writing.”) However, in the north-east of the subcontinent there are oodles of oral and literary traditions including folk-religious tales, verse-narratives and, never forget, the syncretic faith tales in vernacular verse of the Bauls. Some splice together Hindu religious texts like the Mahābhārata and Rig Veda and their folk tale counterparts. Though not an exclusively Bengali example, several concern Manasā, also known as Mansa Devi or Vishahara (‘the destroyer of poison’), the subject of Kaiser Haq’s The Triumph of the Snake Goddess (Harvard University Press, 2015), with an introduction by Wendy Doniger (the very same). The point is, whether about Krishna, Manasā or Sukanya, oftentimes these stories have no one definitive text. Or wider appreciation. It took his mother-in-law Parvati Rajan to alert Ravi Shankar even to this story’s existence. Traditional tales like these could be likened, in a manner of speaking, to a quiver full of variants. An individual arrow may come with a pre-modern arrowhead but can hit a modern target when fletched differently. That is what Ravi Shankar was aiming for with Sukanya .
Susanna Hurrell and Pirashanna Thevarajah | photo: SIM CANETTY CLARKE
THE OPERA ENTHUSIAST WRITES — SUKANYA
The Opera Enthusiast Writes
e go to opera because it presents a range of dramatic contrasts in striking ways; not that this is unique to it as an art form but it is acutely so. It can both be very elitist and profoundly popular. It can be coarse; it can be refined. Like any art form, it can fail – in particular it can be noisy, pompous or frankly silly – but when it works it is extraordinary, perhaps not in spite of all this but because of it. Whereas church music is to some degree written for God and much other music tends to explore ideas in a quite internal way, opera requires an audience and is crucially dependent upon it. Opera is at the same time both highly artificial and highly engaged. Operas with preposterous and contrived plots tackle social, political and personal themes in visceral ways. The ridiculous idea of life set to music achieves a double quality of both actuality and psychological truth. It doesn’t necessarily require great musical knowledge to appreciate opera, but a willingness to be moved – though a taste for melodrama helps. The range is extraordinary and it maps a history of the formation of the modern world over more than 400 years through the engagement of its audiences. The long repertoire from Monteverdi to Cage is evergreen and, through performance, contemporary and a mirror to its public and their passions. Mozart explores wayward sexuality. Verdi expounds personal and political liberation. In Wagner we find great mythological themes vivified by the emotional conflicts of individuals. Opera crystallises important moments of experience through music that then become part of our mental landscape. Charles Robertson.
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Amit Chaudhuri [with Ansuman Biswas] at Between the Lines, Rich Mix | PHOTO: SIMON RICHARDSON
SUKANYA — THE LIBRETTIST
Writer and musician Amit Chaudhuri had been commissioned to write the libretto for Sukanya shortly before Ravi Shankar died. He talked to Ken Hunt about how he responded to the story and the freedom that David Murphy gave him.
Interview by Ken Hunt
peaking about the tale behind Sukanya, its librettist Amit Chaudhuri says: “I personally didn’t know the story. David Murphy sent me an account of the story. It was a very basic text. I had no idea of this story. I familiarised myself with it and then began to think about how to approach it. Later on, he sent me a comic book which Ravi Shankar’s wife Sukanya had passed on to him. It’s a comic book in a series which used to come out in India in various languages, including English, called Amar Chitra Katha which means ‘Immortal Picture Stories’. It’s a bit like the American Classics Illustrated.”
“...a comic book helped winnow Sukanya’s wheat from the chaff.” As Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty wrote way back in 1988, they were “ostensibly
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written for children, but many adults read them.” Both series were conceived to have an educational and improving function. In the case of the Amar Chitra Katha comics, compounding that there was a political agenda. They were further intended to be a counterbalance to the weight of nonIndian, Western history and culture still taught in post-Partition schools. Using an eye-catching, brightly-coloured comic book form, they contained simplified, pared-down narratives about religious, historical or legendary characters, examples of which were Krishna, the Mughal court musician Tansen, the Bengali man of letters Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru. Others condensed epic, drama or verse-narrative from the likes of Kālidāsa into digestible, bite-size fare. The Sukanya volume Chaudhuri received also distilled the tale to its essence. Something to applaud, a comic book helped winnow Sukanya’s wheat from the chaff.
“...a modern Indian tradition which has tried to be experimental…” “I wanted to avoid,” he says, “an easy sort of perversion of Indian mythology which would have been very burdensome for me. I was working in an Indian tradition, a modern Indian tradition which has tried to be experimental in its standard approach. Ravi Shankar was one of the experimenters who didn’t take Indian classical music as some sacred given but reshaped it. His contemporaries also reshaped Indian classical music. I was happy to rethink how to tell this story and avoid the burden of producing something that looked quintessentially like an Indian mythological tale or whatever.” What Amit Chaudhuri brings to the Sukanya libretto table is – and once was – his and his alone. Born in Calcutta in 1962, raised in Bombay, a survivor of the
panels from Sukanya Graphic Novel| PHOTO: origin unkown bit.ly/136suk02
English educational system with a doctoral dissertation at Balliol College, Oxford on the poetry of D.H. Lawrence (and further trailing clouds of glory), he is also musically literate, having studied and made music with Hindustani classical and fusion slants. As librettist, when it came to writing the words for Sukanya, the breathing space of the sometimes-called monastic isolation of the mind paid dividends.
“…I was allowing this web of associations to take shape in my head.” “I thought about the libretto for a long time. I thought about the associations in the story and the associations it set up in my head that would allow me to translate those situations into the libretto through a collage of already-existing texts. So, I’m quoting from Tagore, from Kālidāsa, from Eliot’s The Waste Land, from Walter Benjamin. But I do so very unobtrusively
because it’s all happening without necessarily being flagged up. Once it’s flagged up, you will see what’s going on. As I thought about the story, I was allowing this web of associations to take shape in my head. Once I did that, over some months or maybe even a year, then I think I wrote it quite soon. I must have written it in a couple of months. “There were certain things one focused on. Like the image of the sage covered in an ant heap. He’d been so immersed in his meditation for such a long time that, in effect, he’d become a kind of anthill. That idea of an old man quickened by love suddenly and unexpectedly is about what love can do even in old age. I took notice of that as something that was worth investigating.”
“…an old man quickened by love suddenly and unexpectedly…”
He takes a breath. “I was quoting from a variety of authors. I even quoted from myself. I quoted a section from my second novel Afternoon Raag [‘…the account of a young Bengali man who is studying at Oxford University’]. It’s a section about teaching somebody a rāg and teaching them how to tune the tanpura. I used that bit. David Murphy set that to music and said that fitted perfectly with the kind of music that he had from Ravi Shankar. He gave me a huge amount of freedom, I have to say, to imagine and write a libretto as I wanted to do. When I told him this was going to be my approach [Murphy] wasn’t alarmed at all.” And, for the record: “I was supposed to meet [Shankar] after I was commissioned to do the libretto. I was supposed to spend some time with him in San Francisco, but then he passed on. Alas, I never met him.” With thanks to Oliver Craske.
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12 PULSE SPRING 2017
The Dancers’ Dancer PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIMON RICHARDSON
race, fluidity, elegance – Sooraj Subramaniam brings all these qualities to his dance. Born in Malaysia, based in Europe, Sooraj has trained in bharatanatyam, odissi, kathak, classical ballet and contemporary dance. He is currently touring with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance in Material Men redux (reviewed in this issue) and rehearsing for Margam, an evening of solo bharatanatyam. Simon Richardson caught him in rehearsal. Margam | 24 March | Rich Mix, London www.richmix.org.uk Material Men redux | 27–28 March, Birmingham | 26 April, Glasgow | 28–29 April, London www.shobanajeyasingh.co.uk SPRING 2017 PULSE 13
SUKANYA - ORCHESTRATING SUKANYA
Ravi Shankar’s regular collaborator David Murphy had tea with May Robertson and a fascinating conversation ensued about catching the guru’s ideas, the violin as a bridge across cultures, what Western musicians can take from learning about Indian music… and how to function on two hours’ sleep at night.
Orchestrati Sukanya F
or David Murphy, working with the music of his Guruji every day, it feels as though Ravi Shankar is still here. Murphy came to conducting as a violinist; the versatile instrument led him to Shankar. Murphy remembers meeting, and being ‘fascinated’ by, Yehudi Menuhin. He ‘devoured’ Menuhin’s recordings with Shankar. Indian music has this connection with his ‘own artistic roots’; ‘it has never felt like something “different”’. Murphy was already working with Wajahat Khan when he met Shankar. I detect some resolve on Shankar’s part: “he decided that we should get together.” Murphy remembers their fast-paced first project, a collaboration between Dartington and the Bhavan Centre, which began with meeting Shankar and his musicians in a West End hotel. “He would have an idea, he would play it on the sitar, and they would copy that idea, and then he would spread that musical idea amongst the musicians… orchestrating the idea with maybe two or three people. They had to be on the ball because that idea itself could change all the time. It might start off with one particular shape but it could go in any direction.” That project was “an incredibly intense, but wonderful
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experience.” David was “absolutely exhausted, running on adrenalin”, but it was a success; they started working together regularly. He elaborates on the process they developed: his orchestration of the previous day’s work, done overnight, “would be the starting point for a fascinating discussion regarding how Western instruments could be used to bring out the character of the raga. We would then keep refining the orchestration until the raga’s character was being clearly revealed.” David is basing his orchestration of Sukanya on the “thousands of hours” the two spent together. In transcribing, “there are so many possibilities, all of them wonderful options, and the process of deciding which one is going to be in the final piece is the huge challenge.” But it enables musical cultures to meet. In Sukanya, Murphy wants the singers to inhabit the spirit of the raga, to internalise the way in which the drama of the music comes from the relationship between each note and the Sa drone. They are to keep their own vocal timbre: “Raviji wanted them to bring their own natural vocal expression to the work.” Unusually, the music came before the libretto: “Amit Chaudhuri knows Raviji’s music very well. But he wasn’t constrained by it. He listened to it and he went away and
he wrote, and magically, a huge amount of it fitted like a hand in a glove.” I ask how Murphy goes about notating raga music. Logically, but unusually, he combines Western notation with sargam notation, placing one above the other on the page. Then “both sets of musicians know exactly what you’re talking about”. The Western-notated music “communicates the way the notes slide and glide into one another” but “still looks logical so that a Western musician can grasp it immediately”. Still, in a “complicated but slow alap”, a live interpretation is necessary because truly accurate notation is impossible. The same is true of Western music; “it’s just more obvious with Indian music because there’s such a wide range of interpretations.” We discuss Shankar and his long experience of working in the West. His brother Uday made their performance material “short, concise and immediately appealing”, knowing what Western listeners needed “to grab their attention.” This “permeated through to Ravi’s approach”. Performing Indian classical music in the West, he “would start off with very concise examples” but would gradually bring “the full force of the tradition” – what a wonderful phrase – “as people began to
SUPPORTING SUKANYA — SUKANYA
ing By May Robertson accept it, began to understand it more and more.” Shankar the ‘trailblazer’ was “incredibly helpful for Indian music as a whole…he understood the new audience and what they needed… Without him, it’s quite likely that Indian music would still be something that we didn’t really experience very much.” I ask David about his other projects and his work in Kadam’s hometown. “Luton is a great place to explore the meeting of different cultures – especially musically.” He has big plans post-opera. “There are so many experiments, performance opportunities, workshops that we can do.” He has also taken his orchestra to Goa; he happily describes schoolchildren’s fascination with the sound of the bassoon as well as the way his musicians are now “totally hooked” on Indian music. They worked on fitting Indian rhythm-cycles and Western harmony. It’s about “finding the meeting point”, he says. “Go with that and you have a really good start to your musical journey.” Evidently the journeys that Shankar began will continue long into the future. David Murphy and the Sukanya team are grateful for the support of the Bagri Foundation.
L to R: Video Designer: Akhila Krishnan, Conductor: David Murphy, Director: Suba Das, Choreographer, Aakash Odedra, Set Designer: Molly Einchcomb | Photo credit: Sim Canetty-Clarke Dr Alka Bagri | Photo: Harriet Wooltorton // Inset - Doria Tichit: Courtesy the author
The Bagri Foundation
Doria Tichit fills us in on the role of The Bagri Foundation.
he Bagri Foundation is a UKregistered charity established in 1990 in order to provide philanthropic assistance through education, relief work and the preservation of Asia’s cultural heritage. In 2012, under the impetus of Dr Alka Bagri, the cultural arm of the foundation was further strengthened. I joined the foundation as Head of Arts and Culture in 2015, and as an art historian specialising in South Asian art, I am delighted to be involved in the development of its cultural programme. We commission projects and partner with organisations and individuals
from the fields of art and academia. We are passionate about fostering dialogues between cultures and disciplines and are thrilled to support the world première of Ravi Shankar’s opera, Sukanya. This ground-breaking project reveals how classical Indian and Western music connect on a deep level and how stimulating such an exchange can be. We aim, with a ten-part online mini-series The Music Room by David Murphy, to familiarise the audience with key musical concepts to further appreciate Ravi Shankar’s extraordinary vision. The foundation also encourages learning through music with the Deccan Heritage Foundation via the project Roots of Fire, launched this January with a concert with David Murphy and Amjad Ali Khan. We believe in the power of collaboration. Working with the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, we have developed courses on traditional Asian arts in order to preserve techniques and to inform contemporary practices. Through the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival we celebrate pan-Asian writing. Our interest in independent Indian cinema is reflected in our headline sponsorship of the London Indian Film Festival and we are particularly proud to support the Satyajit Ray short film competition. Our long-term partnership with Soumik Datta Arts led us to commission a documentary film series on Indian Folk Music, Tuning 2 You ‒ Lost Musicians of India, which will be aired later this year. The year 2017 has begun with a new collaboration with Baithak UK that has enabled us to bring Shabana Azmi’s latest theatre production Broken Images to the UK. Connecting people and working closely with artists and scholars is at the heart of the Bagri Foundation’s approach. We had the pleasure of bringing together storyteller Vayu Naidu and singer Meeta Pandit to illustrate the concepts of rasa last year and we are currently exploring collaborations with John Suchet and Aruna Sairam. We regularly organise lectures and talks on a wide range of subjects and encourage multi-disciplinary projects such as Gandhara Connections of the Classical Art Research Centre, University of Oxford. We are currently in conversation with world-renowned institutions regarding the preservation and digitisation of ancient manuscripts to make them accessible to all. I am passionate about promoting art. Since I completed my PhD dedicated to North Indian temple art in 2011, I have regularly lectured on South Asian art at SOAS, the V&A and Sotheby’s Institute of Art and had the great pleasure of bringing Pulse magazine readers to India. Today, I am convinced as ever of the importance of arousing curiosity, sharing knowledge and expanding horizons, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to do so with the Bagri Foundation. SPRING 2017 PULSE 15
YOUNG PULSE â€” CULTIVATING YOUNG CHOREOGRAPHERS
What happens when an aspiring choreographer reaches a point in their career and artistic development when they are ready to develop a compelling idea further, but need practical guidance and a financial investment to make it possible? We look here at one programme that is providing support for young choreographers.
By GOPA ROY
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Akademi Illicit Worlds Raheem Mir | Photo: Vipul Sangoi
Cultivating Young Choreographers
Shivaangee Agrawal | Photo: James Woodward
n article on young artists in our autumn issue brought out the value of programmes provided by arts organisations in the UK. The London-based Akademi, with the assistance of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, has been supporting artists with a background in classical South Asian dance with its programme of Choreographic Commissions.
“The programme... is tailored for the individual.” The programme, in the last of its three years, is tailored for the individual. It provides a mentor to support the creative process; a platform for artists to present their work; production support; and, of crucial importance, strategic support (with the help of producer Bobby Tiwana) in terms of marketing and communications, with access to promoters, programmers, venues and funders so that an artist can gain experience of how to tour and pitch their work. The cash sum that comes with the commission provides a start-up and the recipient is given assistance with applications to Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts funding programme. So far these grant applications have all been successful.
“[It enables| artists to take their own directions and take risks…” The programme is designed to be confidence-building and flexible, enabling artists to take their own directions and take risks without the pressure of having to produce a finished performance piece, so that they can choose to prepare anything from a studio-sharing to a tour-ready work. A glance at previous recipients indicates the range of artists the programme has supported. Kamala Devam was able to work on developing new movements from acrobatics that informed her choreography and she has gone on to form a new dance company. Shane Shambhu was given the opportunity to explore and incorporate other artistic practices such as theatre and film into his bharatanatyam base. Divya Kasturi created Forgot Your Password?, a theatrical-dance work integrating hologram technology, contemporary South Asian dance and vocals which was premièred at the Southbank Centre. This year (2016‒17) Akademi has awarded commissions, chosen by an independent open application process, to three young dancers for solo choreographies and one for a group choreography.
Shivaangee Agrawal Shivaangee is currently studying contemporary dance technique, choreography and choreology at Trinity Laban. Shivaangee’s choreographic work, with its bharatanatyam base, is informed by her experience of other styles including classical Japanese and contemporary dance. “As a bharatanatyam dancer, I want to discover the potential of this dance form to be a contemporary practice.”
“Only...[the] vulnerable use walking as a means of travel in Bangalore…” The piece she is creating was born out of vivid memories of her recent daily commute to her dance classes through the streets of Bangalore. “Until that point, I had taken for granted my ability to simply move through space as I wanted. Only those who are vulnerable use walking as a means of travel in Bangalore, and walking compounds that vulnerability.” Shivaangee is exploring “how movement and choreography can communicate the experience of these powerless players in the game that is space” and her aim is to touch the audience in some way, though not in a didactic manner. She imagines using objects and digital projections in the performance arena.
SPRING 2017 PULSE 17
Parbati Chaudhury | PHoto: Simon Richardson
Manuela Benini | photo: courtesy Akademi
YOUNG PULSE — CULTIVATING YOUNG CHOREOGRAPHERS
Manuela Benini “...the world is full of chaos and chance...” Last October, Brazilian-born movement artist Manuela Benini took part in a choreographic programme with Annie-B Parson (Big Dance Theater, David Bowie’s Lazarus). Parson’s work is notable for its synthesis of dance with theatre, music, text and visual design. This has been an inspiration for Manuela: “I started thinking about the use of text within the kathak context.” She is looking at moving beyond the traditional stories and the recitation of kathak bols to new ways of creating a kathak movement vocabulary, using text and juxtapositions of images and language, with different styles of music, rhythms, found text and recorded conversations. Further, “in kathak, I have always looked for harmony in the dance, but the world is full of chaos and chance, so: what happens when I use ideas of chaos and disruption to create kathak movement vocabulary?” This commission is enabling Manuela to create a new solo multimedia piece that she hopes can go on to tour, both nationally and internationally.
18 PULSE SPRING 2017
The grim reality of homelessness has become inescapable in the UK. Parbati’s piece – working title Growing Pains – examines the intensifying housing crisis that is leading to these alarming levels of homelessness. Director Ken Loach’s seminal TV play, Cathy Come Home, has made a lasting impression on her. “The challenge will be to devise a piece that can demonstrate the weight of the subject matter, which is vast and complex.” She envisages a series of scenes that highlight the fragility of a home – this basic need – in our current times. “I’m also hoping to burst the perception that certain sections of society are insulated from these issues.” This issue affects a cross-section of her generation. She is working with a combination of genres, planning to “heighten both the abstract and abhinaya aspects of kathak, and cross them over with song in the style of musical theatre, and speech, as I feel these mediums will be able to effectively deliver certain satirical messages.”
“...sharing some of the stories of those who find themselves sleeping rough.” She is working with the homelessness charity St Mungo’s in her research. She hopes to be able to highlight the complexities and counter continuing indifference by sharing some of the stories of those who find themselves sleeping rough. “This sensitive piece is going to be a bold step for me as both a performer and a choreographer as I try to develop my own process and explore new narrative, movement dynamics and presentation avenues. I’m excited, curious and terrified, but that all sounds about right.”
Seeta Patel | Photo: Simon Richardson
Akademi Illicit Worlds Raheem Mir | Photo: Vipul Sangoi
Raheem Mir Raheem gave a subtle, nuanced performance of a classic mujra dance from the film Umrao Jaan last autumn as part of Illicit Worlds of Indian Dance at Rich Mix in an evening hosted by Akademi. Raheem is deeply appreciative of the freedom Akademi has given him. “Don’t restrict a young dancer, it’s an escape for so many people – it’s one of the most euphoric feelings. I couldn’t have done it without freedom.”
“…why do we have to apply gender to dance?” Raheem is currently completing an MA in Contemporary Performance and Practice at Royal Holloway University of London. He is from a Pakistani Punjabi Muslim background and grew up surrounded by women, dancing at weddings, loving watching Madhuri Dixit on the screen, and throughout his dance career, there was a feeling there was no real gender in dance. As he grew older he encountered more cultural expectations and boundaries. When he chose a female sringara in classical dance workshops, he was told no, he had to be a man. “This got me thinking: why do we have to apply gender to dance? That’s what caused me to create this piece. I see myself as male but don’t see why I can’t perform as female.” The working title of his piece for the commission is Dhanak (‘Rainbow’) and, with Raheem’s dance and physical theatre background, it is “more of a theatre piece”. Raheem hopes to take his dance and gender work and tour it, to India and Pakistan, where there is a lot of research in gender and hijra communities. “I want people to speak about freedom in dance and not shut someone away who wants to wear particular things… it’s up to us to carry on the tradition (he has trained with Gauri Sharma Tripathi and Sujata Banerjee)… I want to take what I’ve learned and go forward with it… bringing other things into this world, through a different aspect. I want it to be me, not the kathak dancer. I want people to see me.”
Seeta Patel “...how...Western...choreographies... might be translated into bharatanatyam vocabulary.” Seeta Patel has recently been performing in India, in Delhi and in the home of bharatanatyam, Chennai. A classical practitioner, for this group choreography commission she is exploring ballet and contemporary dance ensemble work. “I was interested in seeing how existing Western classical and contemporary ensemble choreographies that have had several interpretations, e.g. Swan Lake, Giselle, The Rite of Spring, etc., might be translated into bharatanatyam vocabulary.” Ensemble work is a new step for her: “I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the bharatanatyam vocabulary on multiple technically experienced bodies.” From challenging aesthetic explorations to social engagement, these young artists have so much to offer. It is clearly important to maintain support, even – or especially – in times of austerity and trouble.
SPRING 2017 PULSE 19
Young Pulse — BBC YOUNG DANCER
Taking to the stage (and screen) again
20 PULSE SPRING 2017
BBC Young Dancer A Beginner’s Eye View
Pulse proofreader pamela covey | photo: Courtesy the aUTHOR
The first series of BBC Young Dancer burst onto our screens two years ago and it was a revelation, bringing four different styles – street, ballet, South Asian and contemporary – into the homes of new audiences. One viewer was proofreader Pamela Covey, who has been working with Pulse for a number of years.
his may sound remarkable, but BBC Young Dancer 2015 was my first ever viewing of classical South Asian dance. Remarkable because, since 2004, I have been privileged to work with the production team of Pulse magazine as their proofreader; therefore I have become well acquainted with South Asian dance in descriptive terms as well as through the beautiful images regularly featured in the magazine. However, it is one thing being conversant with all the terminology of the various dance forms but quite another to finally witness the beauty, expressiveness and remarkable skill of South Asian dancers in performance! My only previous experience of classical dance had been a number of visits to Covent Garden many years ago, where I was enthralled by several of the best-known ballets including Swan Lake, Coppélia and others. Sadly, my viewing of South
Vidya Patel | Photo: Jane Hobson
l to r: Akshay Prakash, Anaya Bolar, Jaina Modasia, Anjelli Wignakumar, Shyam Dattani | Photo: Nicola Selby
LAKSHMI RANJAN | Photo: Courtesy the Artist
Asian dance had been limited to the nonclassical forms of Bollywood and bhangra, thanks to film and TV. Unfortunately my personal circumstances prevent me from attending any live performance nowadays, but when I saw the trailers for Young Dancer in 2015, I knew it was a must-see series for me, if only for the South Asian category. Ballet was familiar to me; I had some idea about hip-hop; contemporary was (and still is) something of a mystery – call me old-fashioned, but I personally prefer any dance form to have definite structure, technique and recognisable required elements rather than being so ‘freestyle’. So my focus was very much on the South Asian dancers and my goodness, I was simply awestruck by all the performances! Naturally I had some idea of the required elements from my work with Pulse, but to see these brought to life by emerging young talents was something else entirely. It was also fascinating to know the background of each of the girls and to witness the transformation from their everyday lives into these
‘magical creatures’ with their elaborate costumes, stage make-up, accessories and bejewelled hairstyles, even before they had performed a single step! Space precludes me from mentioning all the girls, but I must single out two in particular ‒ Lakshmi Ranjan and, of course, category finalist Vidya Patel ‒ for their exquisite performances of bharatanatyam and kathak respectively. I may have some understanding of both dance forms but Lakshmi gave me a far greater insight into the complexity of bharatanatyam – surely a combination of dance and acting, requiring the dancer to not only demonstrate great technical skill but also portray several different characters and the interaction between them, all as a soloist! To a novice spectator like myself, Lakshmi’s solo performance had all these elements in spades. As for Vidya, to me she was the standout performer of the whole series and definitely a star of the future. She has such beautifully expressive, eloquent, fluid movement – particularly of her arms and hands – and her surely dizzying sequences
of kathak spins were a joy to watch. In summary, my congratulations to all the participants in all four categories and of course to Connor Scott, the overall winner. I look forward with huge enthusiasm to Young Dancer 2017 but especially the South Asian category – if only the TV programmers would wake up and show us more of this exquisite dance style! Pamela Covey The 2017 category finals – for which Shobana Jeyasingh was cross-category judge – will be broadcast in March-April, leading up to the live Grand Final at Sadler’s Wells on 22 April. 24 March, BBC 4 – Street Dance Category Final 31 March, BBC 4– Ballet Category Final 7 April, BBC 4 – South Asian Category Final 14 April, BBC 4 – Contemporary Category Final 22 April, BBC 2 – Live Grand Final Tickets from www.sadlerswells.com
SPRING 2017 PULSE 21
REVIEWS — DANCE PERFORMANCE/MUSIC PERFORMANCE
around his torso, although Fabiana Piccioli’s engulfing cone of light at this moment Echoes and I Imagine is too sharp, too designed, for 9 March 2017 Odedra’s languor. While the Aakash Odedra Company sound and imagery of the bells Lilian Baylis Studio recur throughout Echoes, it Reviewed by Nicholas Minns is Odedra’s presence and his ability to sinuously, noiselessly he setting of a insinuate his shape into the theatre is not the space around and above him that most conducive to a invites us to contemplate. The meditative state; its silent dynamics of his movement dimensions are more utilitarian have no edges, like sound itself; than spiritual and one’s focus they flow and swirl and rise (his on the stage is shared (in the joyful elevation is rare in kathak) case of the Lilian Baylis Studio) in a series of choreographic with about 180 other people. In variations. Mangaldas has fully Inter-rupted for Dance Umbrella understood Odedra’s gifts and
far from his kathak roots into experimental theatre; he is an actor in his own drama and indulges his ability to evoke his past and present through theatrical means. Choreography enters slowly, but when he performs what appears to be a ritual dance at a suitcase altar, his flowing hands and arms describe everything that words cannot. As in Echoes, his dancing comes from an intimate space inside the body, a place of emotions from which he extrudes meaning through his eloquent limbs. Odedra choreographed I Imagine to the voice of spoken-word artist Sabrina Mahfouz. She, too, talks eloquently and powerfully about home and migration, her words complementing Odedra’s staged conception. Except that Odedra, in some alchemy of performance, has managed to say it all himself.
Music Performance The Bridge
7 December 2016 Jasdeep Singh Degun Leeds College of Music, Leeds Reviewed by Matt Pritchard
T Aakash Odedra | Photo: Simon Richardson
last year, choreographer Aditi Mangaldas and her designers successfully challenged these limitations with a dynamic use of colour and space. In Echoes, her first kathak solo for Aakash Odedra, Mangaldas uses the auditory quality of strings of traditional ghungroo bells to usher in a sense of calm. In the programme note she quotes J. Krishnamurti: ‘If you listen to the sound of those bells with complete silence you would be riding on it, or rather, the sound would carry you across the valley and over the hill...’ The theatre setting militates against this, but Krishnamurti’s aerial metaphor finds a visual counterpart in the strings of bells suspended above the stage and they also spread like tentacles along the floor like an unrolled skein of wool. The bells become the playing field for Odedra, whose dancing imbues them with life. We first see him wafting a tassel of bells 22 PULSE SPRING 2017
through them achieves a sense of awe through a oneness of the dancer and the danced. The contrast with Odedra’s own choreography, I Imagine, reveals an artist who is as expressive in a spiritual role as he is as a common man (or woman). On a stage marked out in white tape like an architectural plan and piled with suitcases of all shapes and sizes, he embodies the spirits of his antecedents, inhabiting the symbols of travel (quite literally at first) while questioning the ideas of migration and home. He scrabbles around the suitcases, retrieving old portraits (in the form of masks created by David Poznanter) and honouring their memory by imagining their peripatetic tribulations, their aspirations and dreams. He is so present in their lives that they live through him, voices and all. It takes a while to square this performance with the previous one, because Odedra has moved
he sitar concerto has had something of an emblematic status in the area of East-West ‘fusion’ music, ever since Ravi Shankar first showcased the form in his Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra of 1971. Nonetheless, there has always been ambiguity about just how the potential in such an interaction could best be exploited. In restricting himself largely to an instrumental dialogue-based idiom, Shankar both extended to the orchestra the sawal-jawab (questionand-answer) technique that he used so frequently on Western stages with his tabla partner Alla Rakha, and acknowledged the dramatic and conversational elements inherent in the Western concerto form itself. The overlap in musical conception almost comes ready-made rather than requiring deliberate ‘fusion’ (a word that Shankar in fact rejected in interviews with Peter Lavezzoli). Yet a certain unevenness in the details of execution cannot quite be overlooked either: the soloists in André Previn’s orchestra often sound rigid and flat; less equal partners with Shankar in command of the work’s
idiom and more like cogs in an orchestral machine. In a packed concert auditorium at the LCM on Wednesday, 7 December, Jasdeep Singh Degun’s newly-commissioned three-movement sitar concerto The Bridge took a different and in many ways more ambitious and creative approach, despite drawing on a string quartet rather than a full orchestra. There were nods to Shankar’s work at a few points – the familiar sound of unison strings swiftly trading phrases with the sitar, the choice of Raag Charukeshi for the final movement, or alternating viola dyads and gently cycling minimalist textures à la Philip Glass (think of his work with Shankar on the 1990 Passages) in the middle of the work. But many ideas here were strikingly independent – notably the opening, with the quartet playing sustained, slowly-shifting chords in a high register, the calm increasingly ruffled by patches of tremolo, before the arresting (and superbly-timed) introduction of the sitar playing a quiet tanpuralike figure in harmonics. The section that followed addressed the challenge of a confrontation between Western harmony and Indian melody head-on, with a technically well-handled contrapuntal interweaving of the sitar first with the cello and then the violin. Most of the work was, however, based less on such noteto-note correspondences between the instruments and instead kept more of a distance between the sitar and the quartet, allowing the solo instrument melodic space to move by adopting a more ambiguous and modernist harmonic idiom (with vague reminiscences of the midtwentieth-century quartet styles of Barber, Shostakovich or Britten). Though the ending of the first movement slipped away unacknowledged by the audience, a greater emphasis on rhythm and the play of chanda (rhythm play based on unusual syncopation) in the central part of the work produced more intensity and more dynamic interplay between the performers. We heard some well-constructed tihais (short phrases repeated three times), including a particularly effective large-scale chakradar tihai (a tihai of tihais) to close one of the sections, and at one point Degun took off on his own in a solo whose placement felt in some ways almost like a Western concerto cadenza but whose
Exhibition — REVIEWS
zealous and fervent supporter of crafts and art in India. The British-born teacher, curator, artist and craftsman spent most of his professional life in Lahore and Bombay, working in
Victoria & Albert Museum, London until 2 April 2017, sets out to acknowledge and debate Kipling’s somewhat complex legacy, both in India and the United Kingdom.
Photo: Foteini Christofilopoulou
structure was thoroughly Indian: increasing jhala-dominated rhythmic intensity (fast-paced alternating of melody and drone strings) and a passage darting backwards and forwards between the flat and natural third degree (shuddh and komal Ga) in two different octaves. After a more subdued third movement, the concerto ended with a daring yet satisfying formal reminiscence – the return of the sitar’s opening tanpura figure, a reabsorption of the work’s accumulated complexity into the pure intervals that form the Hindustani tradition’s constant points of reference. The work’s title seemed to acknowledge the patient work and careful balance of forces required to create a ‘bridge’ between two complex and contrasting traditions of classical music. Many elements needed to fall into place for a concert like this to be possible – a central composer-performer figure who must be able to operate both with the tacit, accumulated knowledge of Indian tradition and with the medium of Western notation, an engaged ensemble of Western classical instrumentalists (Preetha Narayanan and Fuensanta Zambrana Ruiz on violin, Salomé Rateau on viola and cellist Tara Franks, all with experience of playing outside the classical ‘box’), from composer Richard Melkonian, Degun’s guru Dharambir Singh, and funding and support from zer0classikal and SAA-uk respectively, in order to create an informed space within which the difficult work of stylistic negotiation can proceed. That such negotiation should be initiated from the Asian side and not just by Western composers also seems to this reviewer a
necessity. The post-concert question-and-answer session showed Degun’s cheerful awareness that the shape of a work such as The Bridge, unlike a conventional Western classical opus, can always be given further development and revision in subsequent performance – and the Leeds audience were thoroughly convinced that the piece merited it. Matt Pritchard is a lecturer in Musical Aesthetics, School of Music, University of Leeds.
Exhibition Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London
Until 2 April 2017 Lockwood Kipling Victoria & Albert Museum, London Reviewed by Emma Murphy
pioneer of vast and varied talents, John Lockwood Kipling (1837‒1911) was a
59) A wood carver from a collection depicting craftsmen of the north-west provinces of British India by John Lockwood Kipling, 1870 | Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London
museums, art schools and mining India’s deep well of traditional crafts. Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London, on display at the
Bracelet shown at the Great Exhibition made in Rajasthan, India ca.1850 Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Kipling’s writer son Rudyard Kipling – of The Jungle Book fame – has often overshadowed Lockwood’s place in history but this exhibition endeavours to reinstate the father’s influential hand as a maker, collector and teacher of Indian arts. Working chronologically through Kipling’s career, the exhibition opens with items first shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London’s Hyde Park. This first world fair showcasing manufactured goods from around the world had a huge impact on a teenage Kipling and inspired a love of Indian craft that he held for the rest of his life. Hung in a slightly overwhelming salon style, decadent rugs adorn the walls, while pottery made by a young Kipling and examples of Indian crafts sit behind vast vitrines. Before his move to India, Kipling himself worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum (then known as the South Kensington Museum) as a designer of the original SPRING 2017 PULSE 23
REVIEWS — Exhibition
Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum
terracotta tiles that are still intact today. Many of the objects he collected throughout his life were donated to the V&A and can be seen both throughout this exhibition and the museum’s extensive collections. Lockwood Kipling did much to bring Indian crafts to international audiences and to this day is revered in Lahore as a hero and pioneer. For the 1888 Glasgow International Exhibition, for example, Kipling was allocated 5,000 rupees to spend on Punjabi crafts. We see exquisite examples that he chose, such as a writing box made in Chiniot Punjab (now Pakistan) from about 1881‒82 (probably made by Muhammad Bakhsh) and a lacquered box from Muzaffarnagar, India, from about 1888. Kipling’s talents as a draughtsman are evident in his small, intimate sketches of traditional Indian craftsmen and women. In order for the British to promote international commerce in the early 1870s the government of India commissioned Lockwood to document these craftspeople at work. Each worker looks stern in concentration as they diligently create their products. The fruits of their labour – including sumptuous fabrics and jewellery 24 PULSE SPRING 2017
– are exhibited here alongside Kipling’s drawings. A nod to the problematic relationship between Britain and an occupied India is alluded to with the presence of rugs known as ‘Jail Carpets’. These beautifully-crafted objects were made, as the name suggests, in jails throughout India and sold off by the empire for vast profits. The V&A does seem acutely aware of the potentially problematic relationship between Britain’s imperial past and restaging it today. Indeed, in the introduction to the extensive catalogue, it acknowledges “… some critics have seen Kipling […] as one of a group of campaigners who promote a nostalgic vision of the subcontinent as a preindustrialized, pre-urbanized nation of tradition-bound villages, locally ruled and thus harmless, vulnerable and in need of ‘rescue’ by Britain’s imperial power.” Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London, however, aims to move past these sentiments provoked by Britain’s imperial past into a fact-based analysis of Kipling’s vast and varied legacy, both in the Punjab and London. This exhibition is a thoughtful excavation of Kipling’s influence that has until now, in the United Kingdom at least, been lost to the depths of history.
A Wood Carver from a collection depicting craftsmen of the North-West Provinces of British India by John Lockwood Kipling 1870 | Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum London
connecting asian dance and music communities
Beyond the Frame dance
South Asian dance and music on the first Sundays of May, June and July 2017. Come and enjoy a cup of chai and a samosa at Connor’s and ease yourself into the afternoon’s entertainment.
Sunday 7 May 2017 / 4:15pm
Gods and Mortals Odissi Ensemble
Photo: Simon Richardson
Photo: Simon Richardson
The performers do a warm-up in the Connor’s café window before the formal presentation in the theatre upstairs at 5 o’clock.
A couple look back on their lives together, reliving key moments through the memory of the meals that they shared. With a chef cooking live on stage, the performance is suffused with rich aromas. You get to taste the dish afterwards.
Sunday 4 June 2017 / 4:15pm
Love and Spice
Freedom’s Fire Kadam
Photo: Simon Richardson
Balbir Singh Dance Company
Sunday 2 July 2017 / 4:15pm
A quartet of dancers bring out the strength and grace of the odissi form. The dancers and accompanying musicians take the audience on an inner journey. A beautiful introduction to the dance and music of India.
Arieb Azhar, Sufi and folk singer from Pakistan, featured on the famous Coke Studio’s series, is a highly original voice. Poet, singer and activist, his repertoire stretches from Punjabi and Urdu folk to Irish to Balkan music. Arieb is joined by a Bengali singer and kathak dancer Parbati Chaudhuri, to mark the seventieth anniversary of India and Pakistan’s independence.
Tickets £10 (£8 concessions) available from www.lutonculture.com For more information firstname.lastname@example.org
Kadam Pulse presents the Odissi Ensemble in Gods and Mortals, an evening of powerful and moving dance to soulful music. For the first time, UK-based musicians join the dancers to bring you classical dance with the freshness and spontaneity that only live music can provide. Elena Catalano, Katie Ryan, Maryam Shakiba and Kali Chandrasegaram make up the quartet of dancers with accompanying musicians Ranjana Ghatak (vocals), Parvati Rajamani (spoken rhythms), Gurdain Rayatt (percussion) and May Robertson (violin).
“collective unity and individual sense of style… engaging and rewarding… generosity of spirit” DonalD Hutera, Pulse Tour daTes april-July 2017 Saturday 8 April 2017 The Ganges Theatre, St Peters House, Bradford BD1 www.kalasangam.org Sunday 7 May 2017 The Hat Factory, Luton LU1 www.lutonculture.com Friday 12 May 2017 Sunderland Minster, SR1 www.gemarts.org Saturday 22 July 2017 Indika Festival, Capstone Theatre, Liverpool www.milapfest.com
Beauty, depth and drama
Photos: Simon Richardson
THE ODISSI ENSEMBLE
Published on Mar 20, 2017
The Spring issue leads with Ravi Shankar's first and only opera, Sukanya, written in the two years preceding his death in December 2012. Ken...