TALKING ABOUT DANCE
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Although music is what is presented the most, dance (mostly Bharathanatyam) is an integral part of the margazhi festival. Each sabha (venue) has different ways of dividing the forms and presenting them. Most sabhas will start with music, usually early/mid December till the end of the month, and then start the new year with the dance festival. Most sabhas have fewer days of dance than of music, usually anywhere from 7-10days, like at The Music Academy, Brahma Gana Sabha, Mylapore Fine Arts, Indian Fine Arts. Other sabhas integrate dance into the entire festival so their schedule looks different every year, like Narada Gana Sabha, Karthik Fine Arts, Krishna Gana Sabha.
That being said, the best Sabha for dance is Krishna Gana Sabha. Everything dance-related happens here and is definitely the most exciting place to be, if you are more interested in dance rather than music. Another well-curated slot for dance is the 1.45pm performance everyday in December at Narada Gana Sabha. This slot attracts a lot of competition and some of the best rising starts in the world are presented here.
The Music Academy is a sabha that not only runs the festival with military precision, but they also treat their artists very well. They curate the festival every year brilliantly, carefully choosing the best of the best. The dance performances here are between Jan 3rd and 9th, 2019. This venue also showcases not only Bharathanatyam, but many other forms of dance as such as - Kathakali, Kathak, Mohiniyattam and more. While the evening shows are paid, the morning performances and the conference are open to all.
Apart from performances as I mentioned in my post - Getting Started With The Margazhi Festival, there are also conferences (usually free) where dancers, thinkers, critics, authors come together for cerebral discussions concerning dance. This is also a unique space where many artists present new work or test new ideas and develop connections with artists from all around the world. There are a few conferences I would like to highlight.
The first one that is held in December is Navadhisha, curated by the upcoming dancer Apoorva Jayaraman for the Trinity Arts Festival held at RR Sabha, Mylapore. This conference is usually held early December. Conference is open to all.
Apart from this there are two sabhas that host conferences on a larger scale - First is Natya Darshan conducted by the Karthik Fine Arts (held at Bharathi Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore). This usually takes place right before Christmas. This year the conference is curated by Priya Murle. Some performances of the conference are paid.
Second is The Natya Kala Conference(NKC) conducted by Krishna Gana Sabha, T-Nagar, is also a gem of an event usually held right after Christmas. This year the conference is curated by Srinidhi Chidambaram. Conference is open to all.
Another sabha that hosts a dance conference is The Music Academy, which is usually held along with the dance festival(in Jan) between 8am-10am in the morning (before the first dance performance at 10am). This is usually curated by a committee member of the academy. The details are not published as yet, I will update when they release the information.
Both conferences, NKC and Natya Darshan are curated by top dancers and the curator changes every 2-3 years. The conferences do not run longer than 4 days. All the discussions are in English and very few sessions are in Tamil. If you have watched enough dance and feel like you want to delve deeper into the conversations behind choreography and want a taste of a dancers mind, these conferences are the best places to be. If you missed reading this blog and wished you had been there, maybe it's not too late; many of the sessions have been broadcast on their Facebook pages/Youtube which are available on the corresponding links above.
Author: Shreya Nagarajan Singh
Shreya is the founder of this blog and arts management company of the same name. She has a strong background in the performance arts, as a Bharathnatyam dancer and comes from a family of performers. She has been a regular patron of music, dance and theatre for a decade and a half. Through her company she helps artists in navigating the management of their careers and art organisations in curating and executing business plans and events alike.