UTSAVAM 2020 - Performances
Updated: Nov 2
Utsavam 2020, in its fifth edition in collaboration with Kalakshetra Foundation and DakshinaChitra, shed light on a theme that immediately draws attention and is also the need of the hour – Future of the Arts. It granted cognisance to the significance of looking at the arts in tandem with what is happening around us and what captures audiences. By extension, this symposium sought to focus on how artists could morph with a glance at the current world. The talks and discussions outlined the shifts in perspective to looking at the arts in a world of augmented and virtual reality. Focusing on the performing arts of the four South Indian states, this theme of the future of the arts was seen at the symposium through two different lenses – one, current trends that predict a future that could be positive or negative and two, the things we could do now to shape a future we desire. An event showcasing the versatility and the multifaceted dynamics of the art scene in South India, Utsavam ‘2020 had a very cogent and clear vision – aiming to ensure progress and relevance. The event opened its arms to the idea that the future is plural – parallel possibilities could co-exist. Further expanding on this theme of plurality, Utsavam 2020 also looked atacknowledging the past, discussing the present and looking out for a future that is all-encompassing, assorted, casteless, ecological and feminist.
Author: Sreya Mukherjee
Sreya has completed her Masters degree in History from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She has interned with the National Museum, New Delhi and DakshinaChitra, Tamil Nadu. She was a Sahapedia-UNESCO Fellow in 2017. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in History from Washington State University in the US. Her interest caters to social history of the subcontinent with a focus on consumer culture and gender dynamics in modern India.
Edited By Anu Bhaskararaman
Anu is a dancer, theatre artiste and editor. She has been training in Bharathanatyam under Smt Seethalakshmi Vijay since she was seven years old. She has also trained in ballet, and completed a Diploma in Movement Arts and Mixed Media from Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore, with Honours in 2019. She has been acting, singing and dancing for theatre since 2010. With a BA in English and MA in Linguistics, she worked full-time as an editor at Orient Blackswan Pvt. Ltd for a year, after which she has been freelancing while also pursuing dance.
With the theme of ‘Future of the Arts’ for its fifth edition, Utsavam 2020 was a zenith of novelty and convention. The performances in this year’s Utsavam stood testimony to creating an empowering impact of harnessing new and celebrating old artistic genres and their identities.
The first day saw a dynamic performance of hip-hop and gana by a team of spirited, energetic singers and Tamil rappers from North Chennai known as the Black Boys. Their foot-tapping numbers spanned over a wide-range of topics – they spoke about love, friendship, politics, poverty, the Tamil culture and many more. Their entire performance was laced with these rhythmic mantras which sent out thought-provoking messages with a wish to change society for the better.
The second day had in store two magnificent performances – Koodiyattam by Nepathya Sreehari Chakyar and a play named ‘The Magic Horse’ by the students of Kattaikkuttu Sangam. Through Koodiyattam, Utsavam rose up to be a platform which encourages young artists who take an interest and cultivate their passion for learning the traditional arts.
17 year old Nepathya Sreehari Chakyar performed ‘Maya Seethankam’ from the third act of Shaktibhadra’s ‘Ascharya Choodamani’. The enactment was a dramatic monologue of Ravana on his way to abduct Sita. The various layers of the enactment were beautifully rendered- be it Ravana’s infatuation with Sita or his analysis of the fact that the man who hurt Soorpanakha was a mere mortal who like everyone else fights climatic vicissitudes or him brandishing the fact that how relishing it would be if he could kill Rama with his bare hands. The play staged by young artists from Kattaikuttu Sangam was a fantasy story for children but with a very simple yet profound message for the real world. It unfolded as two school children meet two aliens and the story follows them meeting with several beings to help them return to their abode. With a monkey, a tortoise, a doctor and a monkey trying their hands at devising a strategy, the aliens finally were able to regain their flight and it stemmed from their faith in themselves and their will power.
The final day of Utsavam saw Yakshagana in the long-established dance-music-theatre style narrating the episode of ‘Kamsa Vadhanam’. Like it did with the other performances as well, Utsavam gave the platform to young artists who were disciples of Manjunath Kulal Airody of Udupi Yakshagana Kendra. While the entire performance showed bits and pieces of Kansa’s never-ending fear of Krishna and him summoning demons to kill the latter, it was the encounter amongst Kansa and Krishna and Balarama which stole the limelight. The final performance was that of Andhranatyam and Perini. The delicate temple dance form that it is, Andhranatyam included precise and graceful movements of the Kaisiki Vritti, presented by female dancers. It took place in the form of an Eka Patra Kelika which is a solo performance by a female artist. Similarly, Perini blossomed as a dynamic and vibrant dance form which matched with the rhythms played on a mridangam.
These performances transcended the quotidian hurdles of language and temporality to move the audience and bring about a liberty in its interpretation today.