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Punarnava – the way forward…

Much has been said about the attack of the pandemic, lockdown fatigue, financial and health anxiety, tension…. stress…… do yoga…….. meditation……… tea with ginger…….. breathe…….. it’s going to be fine soon……..

As they say, the market is flooded with products and one is confused what to buy, similarly, the human being is bombarded from all sides by free-flowing advise on how to deal with the current situation which some believe, is here to stay on a long holiday and some feel its to stay but we can work around it.

Amongst the naysayers, the narrative is what has been done and what WE CANT DO! But all said and done just like the newborn who within seconds of its arrival into this world adjusts to the bright sunlight, the oxygen in the atmosphere, the sounds that engulf its tiny ears, the faces that peer at it strangely smiling …. all this within seconds. Reboot it says from the womb to earth! And pronto! I am set.

The pandemic has certainly had some very dynamic and positive outcomes. Almost all artists senior and junior, young and old have encountered the ‘Tech phenomenon’ and to the surprise of the world at large are using it quite well.

Social media platforms that are free of cost (which is comforting) have been set ablaze with every sort of presentation starting with selfie videos relating one’s own feelings and experiences to self-recorded short expositions to family member shot videos of some newly choreographed item… ‘I have relooked at it with different perspective types’, some partaking in Instagram chats, some interviews, some Facebook chat relays and so on.

While the web stages or platforms have been overexposed with a huge amount of content, of varying standards and qualities, ages and forms, it left me scanning the online world to figure out what worked and what didn’t for me. (I state that these are purely my personal views).

Without making any innuendos, I firmly believe that the world is a large stage and that there is and always had been space for everyone. But unlike the proscenium stage, the online platform is very up close and personal, so to say. Every minute anomaly is noticed with the magnifier eye of the camera. Even a single strand of hair can be visible and every look or action caught, every mannerism standing out oddly, every word said cognizable, by this very sharp mirror-like accurate camera, tiny as it may be in the phone.

Since, for almost all artists these mediums are new as in self-creating mode, barring a few who have been in the media world like Ms. Anita Ratnam or dabbled with the medium, the learnings are manifold. They are all-comprehending the ‘do’s and don’ts’. But it’s essential, as these options will grow in the future and develop into an integral part of our performance lives.

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Punarnava, or the rebirth or rather re-invention, a four-part series was an eye-opener for many. Since it premiered a bit into the times and was led by a bunch of young millennial tech-savvy dancers they fixed many of the irregularities with care and thought. Firstly it was transmitted using Zoom via Facebook. So while the platform was Zoom it saved the world from the burden of  ‘downloading’ the app and through FB gave it the widely used SM platform (not the millennials but the senior and mid-level art community for whom a slower and wider space is still the comfort level). The publicising it on Instagram ensured the millennials were in and announcing it on Twitter made sure that those who mattered noticed it.

With the theme ‘Finding Pathways to Renewal and Rejuvenation’  the four day series of Conversations with Ananda envisaged learning from the Life Experiences of Renowned artists.

The series began on May 14, 2020, with the life-changing experience of Padma Vibhushan,  Member of Parliament – Rajya Sabha, Dr Sonal Mansingh. It was ideally titled- Resurrection Through Dance. It seems always difficult for anyone to recollect and relate the most traumatic experiences especially when it is physical and has the threat of bordering on lifestyle or career change. Dr. Sonal vividly went through this accident in Germany decades ago but it was the aftermath and the resurrection process that left many jaws wide open. The grit and tenacity to return to the stage even with some physical limitations is actually a ‘never before’ kind of happening.

Below is the interview for those who may have missed it.

https://www.facebook.com/natyarambha/videos/257901195354735/

For the second episode on May 15, 2020, Ananda had lined up Well known Arts Curator, Educator Ramaa Bharadvaj to speak about ‘Shaped by the NOWs’. Dealing with crisis moments in a foreign country, where Indian dancers were still grappling with self resourced performances and activities, trying to keep in the loop of the ever exploding and evolving trends and techniques back home, at such a time for some tiny rivulets of funding to virtually go dried and the community of artists faced with ‘what now’ kind of situation, Ramaa virtually took up the baton and led the relay as far as she could, not resting till the decisions were reverted and positive funds saw a return route.

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Below video shows tips for all those young artists who create events through crowdsourcing.

https://www.facebook.com/natyarambha/videos/1555694051262519/

The penultimate session on May 16, 2020, was with the pioneer of Arts Entrepreneurship, Actor, Dancer, Writer Dr Anita Ratnam delving into the methodology of how she ventured into unchartered spaces and areas ‘Barefoot and Solo’. Not at all an easy run for that Bharatanatyam trained Chennai dancer to speak up and say it was not the style for her and that she would express in myriad ways every thought even the traditional through global forms and techniques. Every time there is a paradigm shift there are churns and this was the journey through all of that and eventually to reach a space that she imminently owns.

Here is the link to the wonderful camaraderie laden chat between the Kalalshetra alumni, colleagues and tennis lovers.

https://www.facebook.com/natyarambha/videos/617468378854341/

The concluding session was “HER” own story on May 17, 2020, Dancer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Founder of Natyarambha above all Cancer Winner Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant dealing with ‘C for Choice’! The ‘C’ letter dominated the conversation with her disciple Sneha Magapu dancer and an IT professional. Just referring to a life-threatening health attack to actually going through its ups and downs is a completely different thing. But here was this feisty personality who fought every attack or threat that tried its best to dismantle her being, her art, etc. Was it easy to adopt the Never say die attitude? When it’s literal! Here is the link to Ananda’s speak through her battles but making it seem ‘zimmbly easy’!

https://www.facebook.com/natyarambha/videos/2911014169011526/

The well thought of media plan, announcements, coming soon, count downs etc through a brightly coloured poster/posts campaign made it unmissable for all age groups alike. Maybe this could be a wee bit toned down or even having a mix of visuals that appeal to every eye would be thought to ruminate upon.

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Though the series had well known, seen often personalities who were almost doing something on their own yet there was a catch…. the life-changing experience and the resurrection or re-emergence of a personal kind that which is of utmost importance to this generation who border on impatience of the ‘I want it now’ and many a time unable to cope with the circumstances.

These sharings or experiences were what kept the viewer glued to the phone/ iPad/ computers. Just like the series of Satyameva Jayate by Aamir Khan made each one shed a tear at the very touching and moving fight of the individual over their hardships or Lifesize calamities. Going through an accident that broke the spine of a dancer, or a death that couldn’t be grieved, or a social issue that shook an industry that was already on a ventilator or a deadly disease that could have just so easily claimed your precious life made the viewer sit up and say to themselves WOW, could I have dealt with it in such a manner!

The medium doesn’t give you the time and space to perfect or Re look or rethink or correct it is online and LIVE. So in every episode, one has to iron out the things that did not look right and keep performing and perfecting simultaneously. What one needs to pay attention is the ability to adapt instantly to the ever so possible tech glitches which during the Anita Ratnam interview was taken care of well by Ananda. Similarly, the attire that is pleasing to the eye, the amount of make up that is optimal, how much and what kind jewellery looks right, what kind of questions or content will keep one glued and create the ‘appointment viewing’, should we insert other mediums like clips, photos etc to substantiate the references, how does one do this technically.

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The key is ‘differentiator’. So with the fingertips all active to access, a whole new world has opened up. Artists are gung-ho and adapting by the seconds.

Let’s look forward to captivating, thought-provoking and in-depth presentations that cater to today’s genius generation yet keep the classics happy.

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