Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Pray | Eat | Love - Kiran Rajagopalan

Published by Sathir Dance Art © 2017

Kiran Rajagopalan
Dance Artist 
Pray | Eat | Love

Russian Roulette

“Quite a few dancers I know are self-proclaimed foodies, but I am not one of them. I usually eat what’s offered to me, with few exceptions, and I’m generally content as long as food is not overly greasy, sweet, or salty, says Kiran Rajagopalan, who is currently based in New York City.
He adds that dance and travel have broadened his palate over the years, and always makes it a point to sample the local street food in any place he visits. “To date, I think Mayavaram has some of the best food in India – especially the streetside Rumali Roti, Gulab Jamun, and Rava Kesari freshly made in the stalls right outside of the train station.”
The dancer, who has just premièred his latest dance production, “Twin Rivers”, a multidisciplinary production exploring Hindu and Yoruba culture, music and dance, also speaks of delicious, multi-course meals he enjoyed in Indonesia, often served in makeshift restaurants with low-lying tables and benches on busy sidewalks. “When I was a student living in Spain, I used to survive off of 1.50 Döner Kebab pita sandwiches stuffed to the brim with falafel, vegetables, tahini, and hot sauce."

Kiran’s favorite food though is what he calls the Russian Roulette of street food – Pani Puri! “There’s always that chance of getting a shot of food poisoning, but it’s totally worth the risk for just a taste of those delightfully messy, tangy, crunchy, spicy, and sweet snacks!” Being a dancer in Chennai was often difficult, he adds; small victories and small disappointments were celebrated with a trip to Kolkata Chat on the bustling corner of CP Ramaswamy Road & Ranga Road. "I was wise enough to know that indulging in street food had to be done with care. I learned to never have it the week of a major show or between back-to-back shows."

Kiran remembers running to a Pani Puri stand in Cuttack immediately after a disastrous performance: “It started backstage when I discovered that the ceiling was so low in the green room that I could not even stand up. I was even more enraged that I had injured myself trying to dance around the random bricks strewn about on the stage. Without telling anyone, I grabbed a shawl and ran out into the street after my performance, the chatwallah never blinked an eye as I stood before him in my full costume and stage makeup, and he served me two rounds of the BEST Pani Puri I’ve ever had!”
Want to try your hand at making Pani Puri yourself? Link with recipe below.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Download Varnamalika - Sammi Nine Korinanura

Published by Sathir Dance 2017
 the courtesan varnamālika
‘sāmi ninnē kōrinānurā’
ragam: ragamaligai and talam: rupakam

Composed by:

 Tanjore Quartet
 Ponnayya Pillai Nattuvanar

Note: The recording is old and is for listening and reference only. Remastered from the original recording (as far as that was possible)

For more Tanjore Quartet visit:

In case the download link doesn't work mail: sathirdance@gmail.com

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Tanjore Quartet - Mohalahiri Konden Sami

Published by Sathir Dance September 2017
"Sami, I am overflowing with desire for you! My longing for you has gone beyond all limits. Do not pretend any longer that you do not care for me! You are the handsome, mischievous, Rajagopala of dakshina dvārakā"
The Tanjore Quartet wrote a large number of exquisite varnams during their time at the Tanjore palace. The varnam mōhalāhiri (tōdi) was composed by Sivanandam during the reign of Sivāji, Maharaja of Tanjore, who ruled Tanjore from 1832 to 1855. From the 1940s on a noted descended of the Tanjore Quartet (in the lineage of Sivanandam), K.P. Kittappa Pillai composed dance for the compositions of the Tanjore Quartet for proscenium stage.
"mōhalāhiri kondēn sāmi mōdi ceyādē metta nāgarīgalōlā nannaya mākrupālā nī ganashree rājagōpālā nīda vēda gīta nātan nī tāndā"
The varnam explores the overflowing desire and longing of a court dancer for her absent lover, Rajagopala. In approach to composing dance (by Kittappa Pillai) focus would be on human interactions between lovers. An (almost) always absent lover and her longing for him. She makes many emotional appeals for his return, with the hope for a physical union to become one with her beloved, who at the same time is the divine. Kittappa Pillai would insist on a mid-tempo pace (madhyalaya) for this varnam from beginning to end. Slowing down the varnam, especially in the purvanga, after each theermanam would result in unwarranted seriousness and dramatics to the words. A faster pace would equally disturb the flow of the varnam.
"mā dayālagunā karā caturā maturavacanā kōpamenna col nijamāi ena thidamāi paravarum kanamayakamum kataravum cilayai valaitu"
It is of importance to study this varnam, or any other, of the Tanjore Quartet in its entirety, including the often eliminated last caranam sahityam, even if the dancer wishes not to perform it. The varnams of the Tanjore Quartet culminate to a logical climax in the last caranam, what is expressed in the last caranam sahityam influences the interpretation of the first stanzas (pallavi and anupallavi).
"On this bed made of fragrant blossoms I have waited for your arrival, bedecked with precious gems, will you not touch my bosom and make love to me? Assuming you do not belong to another, come swiftly and offer me your full delicious golden lips!"
The varnam mōhalāhiri kondēn sāmi in the majestic ragam tōdi and ādi talam, in Tamil (manipravalam) composed by Sivanandam Nattuvanar of the Tanjore Quartet. Set to dance for proscenium stage by Tanjore K.P. Kittappa Pillai. 

Sathir Dance Art 2017 
Text adapted from conversation with Tanjore K.P. Kittappa Pillai, in Tanjore, July 1997.
(Photo above - synopsis in English of the varnam mōhalāhiri kondēn sāmi in ragam tōdi and talam ādi)

For other compositions of the Tanjore Quartet:

Monday, 11 September 2017

Tanjore Quartet P-A-D-A-V-A-R-N-A-M

Published by: Sathir Dance September 2017

Tanjore Quartet Sivanandam Nattuvanar wrote a collection of beautiful varnams, most of them written during the reign of Sivāji, Maharaja of Tanjore, who ruled Tanjore from 1832 to 1855. The varnams were presented before the Maharaja by chief courtesans. 
In the late 1940's a noted descended of the Tanjore Quartet (in the lineage of Sivanandam), K.P. Kittappa Pillai Nattuvanar unearthed the varnams and set them to dance for procenium stage.

Tanjore Quartet Sivanandam was a veena artist, a vocalist, dance artist, multi-linguist, expert in temple dance rituals, and he was an expert in abhinaya and trained many court and temple dancers who dwelled at the Tanjore palace and temples. He trained male dancers at the palace as well.

Although all of the Tanjore Quartet brothers received admiration during their time at the Tanjore palace, it was clearly Sivanandam who was the favourite of Maharaja Sivaji. The Maharaja and Sivanandam had great mutual respect for each other. Sivaji insisted on the precence of Sivanandam at the time of his daily evening walk in the garden of the palace, during these walks they would engage in discussions from music to politics. A personal messenger was sent to enquire if Sivanandam did not attend their evening walk. Sivanandam established a great name for himself and his knowledge of music was consulted during discussions on music at gatherings of the King and excellencies. 

Sivanandam composed many beautiful varnams (often specifically in praise of Maharaja Sivaji-II)

Some of his compositions are still known today -- dāni sāti pōti lēdura (tōdi), sārasa sikhāmani (kalyāni), pantamēla (ānandabhairavi) and the masterpiece composition, dānike tagu jānarā in ragam tōdi.

Sathir Dance Art 2017 
Text adapted from conversation with Tanjore K.P. Kittappa Pillai, in Tanjore, August 1997.

(Photo above - synopsis in English of the varnam sāmiyai azhaithuvādi in ragam kalyāni and talam ādi)