Thursday, April 21, 2016

Islands Tourism Festival 2015- A & N Islands

After much wait of one year and with lots of expectations ITF 2015 started on 5 Jan 2015 at the ITF ground often referred to as Exhibition ground, VIP road at Port Blair. Function was inaugurated with fun and fare. Function was aired live on Doordarshan. Cultural function started with a Kuchipudi dance. Keeping with modern trend music was provided by the recorded cassette/tape. Now days it can be played by Pen drive or CD player. Thus not much problem is there for flying in accompanying artist from Mainland to Port Blair. I had faced this problem in 1997 when I came first to the Port Blair. I had told my visit to my Guru Prerna Shrimali ji she exclaimed how? What happened to you? Why you are going so far? Later same amazement I saw on faces of Smt Kamalini and Nalini ji when I told them about A & N Islands at their residence in New Delhi. 
As a new artist one has to struggle hard to establish oneself in the local politics of artists I faced problem of gathering accompanying artists for my dance performance. Once I invited a Mridangam artist to accompany me along with other artist- a tabla and one sitar player. At the time of program he came but the tabla and sitar players ganged up and said it will be difficult for them to play and they wish to go away. I had asked Mrindang player to just give assistance by playing the adi talam to my dance. Thus bowing to the pressure of majority I asked Mridangam player to not to play. I felt very sad. I had to pay few rupees to him as compensation.
The name Andaman and Nicobar Islands has an impact on the psyche of people in general.
Dancers of South Zone culture centre at ITF 2013
For today's program i.e. on Jan 5, 2015 (SZCC & EZCC) South Zone Cultural Centre and East Zone Cultural Centre had brought their troupe of dancers to Port Blair.
There was a dance from Santhal region. The song was in Santhali, music was also santhali but with some improvisations of flute artists. Dancers were dressed in original looking dress however the original aroma was missing. The lead dancer and others were dancing few steps of modern and Bharatnatyam dance.
As we know Bengal region has rich heritage of dance and music not leaving behind literature also. All credit goes to RabindraNath Tagore, every one called him Guru thus he is known as Guru Rabindra. He revived art dance and music at ShantiNiketan. Then credit also goes to Uday Shankar for bringing respect to Indian Dance. When he brought dances of India on International platform or rather it was called as WEST, then it was known as Oriental dance of east??
To me it looked awkward, that Santhali doing bharatnatyam and modern steps while performing the Folk dance of Santhal. I think it was not fault on part pf dancers. They were all taught by their teachers, choreographers at the cultural centres.
Dancers from Jharkhand had already performed earlier. But I saw that some groups criss crossing on stage, doing their dances. While other dance groups performing at the centre stage. To me this crossing at front diverted attention on the dance going on the centre stage. This could have been avoided.
Later it came out that all groups of dances from different states had to perform together at the stage. This part I never liked. There was no space left for artist to continue performing their dances. All the groups together looked crowded. But choreographers at these cultural centres compel themselves into trying to show cultural unity in diversity of India. In return what we get on stage is a khichdi of dances-A fusion of dances. Now days it has become fashion among cultural troupes to just grab the opportunity of performing anywhere. They perform everything thanx to event management companies. This profession has developed leaps and bound in India.
Thus young students professionals learners all are taken into the groups and they perform all dances which they themselves do not know!! Mostly groups from urban centres and cities get these contracts and thus they perform Though they lack the true essence of “TRIBAL” and true aroma essence of anything called rural, Folk or village.

Kashmiri troupe in 2014 was much better than 2015 on inauguration day. I think few elements must be showcased as a permanent entry in ITF. I will choose, Gotipua dance from Odisha(orrissa) Chau dance. Kalari payattu of keral and the pong cholam or Thang Ta of Manipur are few martial arts which catch attention of crowd, Provided that the group is genuine or from the original place. These arts requires years of learning.
BharatNatyam and Kuchipudi are natural selection for ITF!!(?). Bhangra of Punjab and folk dance of Haryana cannot be kept out of any such events for their shear high energy elements.
Any of Ghoomer dance from Rajasthan, Gujrat or MadhyaPradesh is also to be added. I like the Rajasthani ghoomer.
The Maganiar, Langa musicians from Rajasthan will be preferred for music programs.  Kalbelia can also be added.
Theatre art of Maharastra, the Tamasha and /or Lavani dance can be added. Not too far is the Konkani or Koli dance.
We should sometime invite Yakshgan of Karnataka also to the ITF Port Blair if not the Kathakali or Koothu, kodiyatam from kerala.
Later there were dances from Sambhalpur, Odisha having the tribal/folk touch. Dress & steps were looking very authentic. Very Young girls were doing the dance thus slight slackness of seriousness was there. Also there was little lack of coordination among small girls. Here lies the problem. Mostly when a groups goes to distant place from a village very few people agree to send their wards. Thus few families which are deeply involved in such type of ventures performing outside of their village select people from their families or relatives. Few aunties and cousins etc are selected. Such groups when perform one can easily find that there are few old aunties or men and few young girls or boys perform together. This is a problem we face in India. Either security of wards, young girls becomes an issue. Imagine if a group from Interior village of Jharkhand or Odisha has to visit to A & N Islands or to any other place in India such as Jammu and Kashmir then no one else can imagine what goes on in the minds of family elders. I know and can understand and also I can imagine it since I also belong to a common family, and had been to villages.
Dance as such still is not looked “good” upon as a profession. Even I passed out IIT but back at mind I could not gather enough strength to make dance as my profession? Even my own classmates, their parents, few teachers and relatives and member of society look very differently at you when you are Dancer and that too if you are Male dancer. I have gone through all such things during my childhood.
While the Sambhalpuri dance was going on suddenly there was rushing line of dancers dressed like Rajastani costumes started criss crossing the stage. While a dance was in progress what was the need of such rushing in?  This happened every time when a folk dance was performed.
There was an announcement saying that now a dance from Madhya Pradesh. My eyes refused to believe. The whole dress concept of dancers was akin to Rajasthani and even dance movements were also. Dancers performed very well in coordination. All the dancers were of “mature age” if I may say so. I mean there were no small girls.  There was a matki dance group performance from MadhyaPradesh. Ikuh lb;k   Hkjh   Egkjks nsojks lyrics very much sounded like Haryanvi influence or Rajasthani.
There was Ghoomra dance also.
Kasmiri troupe came and performed their dance Since the language & music was also very different thus they could not attract the attention of audience. Female dancers were very young. They lacked coordination.
At the back part of stage two young boys were sitting. Suddenly they started their Sword play and acrobatics. It was martial arts from Manipur. Actually the name is Thang Ta. These dance cum exercise and show of physical strength attracts lots of attention of everybody present there. But for a dancer or a critic they become an object of scrutiny and exercise which is done on beats of music and critic sees that if that is done in coordination or not.
There is another dance called “Pong Cholam” performed with percussion instrument “Dhol” or a type of Mridangam/dholak of Manipur. T

he sounds of this dhol are very good and pierce the inner self if you are a faithful observer. Mastering Pong Cholam involves many years of training and practice.
After the folk dances came the Manipuri dance on stage. It was very good. The dress was authentic. This was looking original dance, because it had high standards. No lack of coordination no missing of beats (Taal). No one can copy the dance steps and perform. It requires serious learning under a guru/teacher. These artists from Manipur performed the most famous “Rass” leela of Krishna and gopis as we all knew the story. Or it is known as Maha Raas. Dancers were showing good gLr eqnzk Hast Mudra and in lpakyu pad sanchalan, though it is difficult but when one learns it then he or she can perform better on beats of music.
We are grateful to Shankar Dev ji, who had popularized the Krishna Bhakti in whole of the North East.

Following are few photos of the Islands Tourism Festival 2013:-

Chau dancers at ITF 2013 Port Blair

Gotipua dance at ITF 2013 Port Blair
Gotipua dance at ITF 2013 Port Blair

Dance of Jharkhand at ITF 2013 Port Blair

energetic dance of Jharkhand by girls of A & N Islands

Nicobari dance at ITF 2013 Port Blair-

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