Ashish Mohan Khokar's attandance- The Dance Annual of India 2014-15 - Telugu Traditions - Dance Book of the Year 2014- bhavanvitha@gmail
Ashish Mohan Khokar’s “attendance”- the dance annual of india 2013-14, guest edited by Ananda Shankar Jayant is a virtual library in one book.
The library is quite expansive in its reach and each of the contents makes you discover and initiate a new journey of thought through a very artistically mapped narrative. The book is to be stayed with and read in any manner wished be It flipping into different chapters or if you so prefer, from beginning to end.
First, the rich content is well studied and laid out and secondly, the broad reach and it's manner of approach engages you as a reader, as a journeyer into different times through a time machine, as a spectator to an interview in one of the chambers or even as a researcher looking into the various facets of the rich dance traditions and personalities.
The sections cover wide-ranging topics, it has the recollection of renowned dancers like senior disciple of Dr Vempati Chinna Satyam, Smt Bala Kondala Rao, Sri Ravi Shankar Vempati, Smt Manju Bharggavi, interviewing of Smt Sobha Naidu, of introductions to the young the upcoming and senior dancers and researched content like that of Anuradha Jonnalagadda and Aruna Bhikshu’s article on Bhama Kalapam to a talk with dancers like Mallika Sarabhai . They being senior dancers and highly accomplished at that, the construction of their writings builds the legends in the readers mind leaving one with an impression of that having a personal meeting.
A reading of “attendance” makes one realize that dance is not just about dance, not just about a performance on a stage, is not a subject that one learns… that goes beyond and is it is the gathering of evolved human emotions and essence of times. Efforts like bringing a book like this are rare and even rarely patronized, perhaps even difficult to bring out by just any other publisher.
Coming back to the contents, Even before you think what is mentioned above by itself is quite elaborate, the book effortlessly provides coverage of various traditions not just Kuchipudi alone, of Melattur tradition, Andhra Natyam, Devadasi heritage etc.
Instead of taking the wide view of the library that “attendance- telugu traditions”, I feel it is better to recommend the book for reading and make you enjoy the experience or learn about the richness that about the “telugu traditions”. After all, the edition is covering a very vibrant culture with rich and colorful pictures, beautifully sequenced narrative and engages the reader leaving him to ask for more. Quality content.
Suggestions wise, firstly, I felt the future of the various traditions covered needed an outlook and that is important for any tradition.
Second, a critical look at some creative work, including some of the present days works could have be assessed in the background of times and there could be some critical views expressed by either the dancers or the editor. After all the guest editor Is an accomplished and acclaimed dancer and choreographer.
Third it can take a view on the need for the governments to encourage, preserve, protect, document and contribute for the cause of the traditions. One specific topic that I wished in the book, being a Kuchipudi dancer myself, is on the male dancer in the modern times who is in a dilemma and facing intriguing cause and effects of the merging cultures.
I congratulate the team for.. bringing this “library” for it must have been a very satisfying journey. Ashish’s “poorvarangam” of the edition is by way of a picture, his falling at the feet of “telugu” represented by a dancing small girl in her full dance costume is literally quite speaking.
book of the year, attendance, ananda shankar jayant, ashish mohan khokar, telugu traditions, (C), contributor, bhavanvitha, priyalasya, apr2015, do not copy, copyrights acknowledged