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Updated: December 21, 2012 15:03 IST

Of confluences and contradictions

SAVITHA GAUTAM
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Priyadarsini Govind. Photo: Courtesy: Madhavan Palanisamy.
Priyadarsini Govind. Photo: Courtesy: Madhavan Palanisamy.

Priyadarsini Govind is the convener of this year’s Natya Kala Conference, and she’s ready for a new adventure.

Priyadarsini Govind thrives on challenges, loves ‘living on the edge,’ as she puts it. She seeks out some adventures and some just drop into her lap because of who she is. Just like the opportunity to helm the 32nd Natya Kala Conference. The annual event on Chennai’s cultural calendar that’s on from December 26 to 31, at Nalli Gana Vihar, T. Nagar, Chennai, once again will be the meeting point of theories, thoughts and themes.

Sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor of the large ‘dance’ room in her Mylapore residence, the poised Bharatanatyam dancer begins by saying, “I am absolutely delighted. This is something I have always wanted to do. And when I was told about being made convener, I was thrilled.”

This time, the Conference will deliberate on the concept ‘Samahit- When Parallels Meet.’ Over 50 artists from various streams of the arts, are expected to participate.

Elaborating on the concept, Priya says, “My sister Vidya, Leela Samson, Jayachandran from Kalakshetra and I were articulating various ideas. That’s when it occurred to me that when I work on a concept for my solos, I have to understand dance, music, poetry, movement and most important, how to communicate with my audience. A dancer is not insulated… she has to have a deep understanding of other disciplines as well. And that’s how the theme took shape in my mind; the influences that affect a dancer and her art. The broad theme is ‘Contradictions within’ and the parallels and influences which shape a dancer.”

Priya, who just added another feather to her creative cap when she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ongoing Bharatiya Natya Utsav 2012, goes on, “The idea was not to box in the speakers but allow them to express their thoughts on the topic given to them. They are artists, and it would be interesting to see how they react to it,” says Priya.

On how Priya broke the theme into sub-topics such as ‘Confluence of Forms,’ ‘Art Continuum’ and ‘Embracing Gender Duality through Art,’ Priya says, “There are certain things that you go by instinct. So when I thought of a topic, certain artists came to my mind at once… I felt they fit in. And that’s how we set about inviting musicians, scholars, writers and of course, dancers. Things just fell into place.” She adds, “The larger idea is to reiterate and reinforce the premise that for growth and creativity in dance, influences are imperative.” Incidentally, the title was inspired by a performance by Leela Samson and a Kathak dancer at Milapfest in England this summer.

The six-day event will see lec-dems, panel discussions, documentary screenings and performances. Says Priya, “This event will offer art lovers a chance to see the artist behind the artistry, as also the artistry behind the artist. The audiences will hopefully get to wear different thinking hats and view dance from different viewpoints and understand the working of an artist’s mind and embrace contradictions.”

A conference such as this requires not just participants but a willing audience as well. “Yes, we have put up posters, and are talking about it on the radio. We want more and more people to come and learn a little more about our tradition.”

As a dancer, Priyadarsini finds solace in her solos. “For me the greatest joy is when I am able to bond with my audience. Even for a fleeting moment. That, for me, is fulfilling, a high.”

Catch Priyadarsini Govind’s solo performance at:

Bharat Kalachar – Dec 22, 7 p.m.

Sri Krishna Gana Sabha – Dec 24, 7.30 a.m - 7.30 p.m

The Music Academy – Jan 6, 2013, 6 p.m.

The Natya Kala Conference will screen three documentaries on Koodiyattom legend Margi, Kuchipudi maestro Vedantam Sathyanarayana and … on Dec 26, 27 and 28, 9.30 p.m., at the Kamakoti Hall.

The rest of the schedule goes like this:

Dec 26, 9 a.m. Inauguration by Dr. Sreedhar Pottarazu

Confluence of Forms

10 a.m.: Leela Samson and Sadanam Balakrishnan; 11.15 a.m.: T. M. Krishna; 12 noon: Lakshmi Vishwanathan; 12.45 p.m.: Panel discussion: Prof. C.V. Chandrashekar, Prashant Shah, Sangeetha Ishwaran, Veena Basavarajaiah.

Dec 27, 9.30 a.m.: Finding the Modern in the Traditional

9.35 a.m.: Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy of Nrithyagram; 10.30 a.m.: Dr. Shobana Chandrakumar; 11.45 a.m.: Maya Rao; 12.20 p.m.: Sujatha Vijayaraghavan; 12.45 p.m.: Dr. Priya Srinivasan and Ramya Harishankar; 1.10 p.m.: Panel discussion - Janaki, Sheejith Krishna, Preethi Athreya, Uma Namboodripad.

Dec 28, 9.30 a.m.: A Frieze in the Space and Time

9.35 a.m.: Dr. Subas Pani and Sooraj Nambiar; 10.30 a.m.: Vishaka Hari - Evolution and the Revolution; 11.45 a.m.: Sadanand Menon; 12.15 p.m.: Dr. Chitra Madhavan; 12.45 p.m.: Panel discussion - Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao, Bragha Bessell, Radhika Shurajit, Dr. Lakshmi Ramaswamy

Dec 29, 9.30 a.m.: Art Continuum

9.35 a.m.: Hema Rajagopalan; 10.30 a.m.: Aravinth Kumarasamy; 11 a.m.: Elisabeth Petit; 11.45 a.m.: Jayachandran; 12.25 p.m.: Ashwin Bhogendra and Roopa Mahadevan on Collaboration; 12.45 Panel discussion: Dr. Prof. S. Raghuraman, Sreelatha Vinod, Nirupama Vaidyanathan.

Dec 30, 9.30 a.m.: Art and Society

9.35 a.m.: Dr. Vidya Rao; 10.30 a.m.: Anitha Guha on “Inspiration and Influences for my productions”; 11.45 a.m.: Dr. Gowri Ramnarayan; 12.15 p.m.: Dr. V.R. Devika on “Creating a Sahridaya”; 12.45 p.m.: Panel discussion: Manjari Rajendrakumar, Priya Murle, Vidhya Subramaniam, Arushi Mudgal.

Dec 31, 9.30 a.m.: Embracing Gender Duality through Art

9.35 a.m.: Narthaki Nataraj; 10.30 a.m.: Koumarane Valavane; 11.45 Dr. Kannan Pugazhendi; 12.25 p.m.: V. Kaladharan; 12.45 p.m.: Panel discussion: A. Lakshman, Kishore Mosalikanti, Amrita Lahiri.

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