With the rain bucketing down and central heating being switched on, the mind wanders in search of cheer and at this time of year it is the anticipation of yet another energy filled, uplifting Madras music and dance ‘season’ (or Christmas depending on your cultural background). This year I would be starting off with the 3 day conference – Purush: The Global Dancing Male http://www.narthaki.com/info/prv13/prv771.html organised by the Arangham Trust and Karthik Fine Arts from December 18 to 22, 2013. Performances, panel discussions, honours, panellists from across the world, dancers from all corners of India, the conference promises it all.
A quick glance at the programme gives an inkling of what to expect. Patriarchy, sexuality and performance in the context of Indian dancing male is indeed one that evokes strong views. But what is intriguing is the panel is neither Indian nor male! I am acquainted with the works of at least one of the panellists and she is highly regarded and I am not suggesting that one needs to be Indian or male to discuss these issues but an insider’s view would be missing. Having said that, I can imagine the difficulty in finding someone willing to engage with this issue in a public forum especially as India is still largely a very traditional society with a long list of taboo subjects to be discussed in public. The other panel discussions are seemingly less controversial getting down to the details of practising the chosen art form and it will be a delight to hear from masters of the various styles of Bharathanatyam. Thinking back to the many natya-kala conferences, lecture-demonstrations and performances I have been to in the past, I seem to recollect having seen many of the female gurus on one platform on more than one occasion but it is not very often one sees all the male gurus together, so it would indeed be a rare opportunity. Needless to say the performances are going to be of a high calibre with some of the most well-known artists of the younger generation and the not so young performing and we also have an open air performance of theeru-koothu! All very exciting and throw in the general Mylapore atmosphere with early morning temple bells, margazhi street bhajans and the street food, it certainly puts a smile on my face.
If you would like to have a low down of the conference, watch out for my Purush review in the Spring issue of Pulse – the premier Asian dance and music magazine in the UK at http://www.pulseconnects.com/