#India- What you wanna be -Kareena or Konkona or .. #womensday


Bachi Karkaria , TNN

Or Kiran next-door? The liberated woman is free to flash any face

There’s a poster in the lifts of our Dosti Flamingoes housing complex. It’s an invitation to ‘Bring out the hairspray, the blue eye-shadow and the press-on nails. Put on your dancing shoes and join the All Ladies Bollywood dance party on March 8′. On the streets, lamp-posts advertise a slimming clinic which tempts you to ‘surprise your husband with your curves this Women’s Day’. But the headlines are about steely Irom Sharmila, and little girls who continue to be raped and murdered as if the verbiage over Nirbhaya is all just empty noise. So what’s the battle for women’s rights really all about?

Yes, i balked at the first two notices. They seemed regressive, especially the one about the curves for hubby-ji. Worse, the ‘o’ in its ‘Women’s Day’ was shaped like the women’s symbol. Surely it was a travesty to deploy it for something that was not just frivolous, but also quite the opposite of what March 8 represents? Hey, babe, you’re supposed to stand up against patriarchal stereotypes, not lie down purring with satisfaction at your sexual slavery.

The poster in our lift could merely be about just a fun evening. But, i couldn’t help a party-pooper thought. Its visuals were from last year’s event, and showed our Dosti ladies in flamingo finery, shaking out a ‘Sheila ki Jawani’ and happily taking on Munni ki badnami. So, the chosen way to celebrate women’s liberation is to plunge into an item number — the same entity currently being blamed for women’s many-fanged humiliations? Interesting.

An even more spoilsport thought surfaced. Wasn’t this amateur kajra-mujra just one thrust removed from another increasingly popular feature of girlie nights — the male stripper, who goes through his suggestive paces to catcalls and vixen-whistles? The women hysterically stuff currency notes into his G-string, and they may or may not stop short at pawing his six-pack. No one in this smart, intelligent, designer bagging audience stops to think that this is the same, denounced demeaning objectification, even if in reversed roles. Surely, with their advantages, they should be able to come up with a more evolved way of asserting equality?

Eek! Do i sound like the secret cousin-sister of Mumbai’s ‘Hockeystick’ Dhoble? A covert member of Mangalore‘s Hindu Jagran Vedike? Subhash Padil, leader of its goons who barged into a homestay last July and beat up the young men and women celebrating a birthday, had swaggered later, “I have no remorse …Do you know what they were up to? They were drinking beer, and you know what that leads to?…Going to parties and drinking and smoking…Is that any way to celebrate a birthday? It is because of our actions that the girls there were saved from being dishonoured.” Righttt! Slapping, manhandling and ripping their clothes is the morally acceptable way to rescue women from certain shame.

So, amidst the righteous hyperventilation which marks March 8, perhaps it would be helpful to find some quiet time to ask if there is a right or wrong kind of liberation. To realise that women, long-time victims in primeval power assertions, are again the first casualties of today’s ‘clash of civilisations’: between ‘traditional’ values and liberalised aspirations. That freedom, by its very definition, cannot be chained to someone else’s notions of correctness.

In the age of post-post Lib, being seriously sexy is as legit as being seriously activist. Women are free to choose between being a Malaika Arora or a Mallika Sarabhai. Or neither. They can choose to be a homemaker instead of a power-babe. Or be able to without apology. We shouldn’t let the neo-dictatorship of the feminists become as bruising as that of the old Big Daddies.

***

Alec Smart said: “In Modi’s ‘Love Story’, ‘Shove means never having to say you’re sorry

Killers of creativity #Censorsip #FOE


Aranyani Bhargav, The Hindu

Mallika Sarabhai Photo:Thulasi Kakkat

Mallika Sarabhai Photo:Thulasi Kakkat

Dance appears to have escaped censorship, but a very subtle form of censorship disguises itself as a performance licence

Despite what romantics might say, it is not easy to be creative. Creativity is not simply something some people are born with and some aren’t. Creativity is cultivated over many years of training, learning, and experiencing. In other words, it is not an easy task to create something good and meaningful even in the best of circumstances. However, the best of circumstances don’t always present themselves at opportune or frequent moments in time. In fact, many an artist will tell you that the revelations regarding a creative piece of work came at a decidedly inopportune or inconvenient moment!

Moreover, there are certain factors in the art world that make the creation of dance (and indeed other forms of art) even more difficult. One is undoubtedly the lack of inspiration. Inspiration can be thwarted by internal factors such as emotional distress or laziness to actually do the hard work that creativity requires, or to go out there and get exposed to other people’s work – in order to draw inspiration from it. Inspiration can equally be diminished by external factors such as the apparent celebration of mediocrity, which may cause disheartening and discouragement; a lack of guidance in the form of a mentor, teacher or colleagues; and the economic factor – which in many ways limits creativity.

Let me explain this further. Money, I think, is the second factor worth mentioning that kills creativity. Of course, this is not unconditionally true. An art-funding body that approves funding for a choreographer’s work can be of immeasurable help to the choreographer because it helps him or her to be able to focus only on creating the work, rather than searching for funding. But there is a flipside to this as well. Work that is commissioned often has restrictions imposed on it by the organization that commissions it. Funds are released on the condition that content, concept, vocabulary and so on – will be determined and restricted – not by the choreographer, but by the person or organization funding the work. In that sense, it does kill creativity.

Restrictions are imposed in other ways too, and this particular one seems obvious as a killer of creativity – censorship. Of course, like all of the above factors, this one is also not an absolute evil. Censorship exists in an ideal world for good and important reasons. But sometimes, it does contribute to the bloodless murder of creative potential.

Censorship doesn’t happen in the world of dance very publicly as it does in some other spheres of art – Kamal Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’ and Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ are quite openly censored by society. Dance appears to have escaped that censorship but perhaps that is only the case because the world of dance is less in the public eye than Haasan or Rushdie. Censorship does occasionally threaten to kill creativity amongst dancers. Mallika Sarabhai, a dancer and activist in Gujarat, has faced ‘censorship’ of sorts for having viewpoints that didn’t fit well with people in power. On a more ‘aam aadmi’ level, the police now imposes restrictions on dancers who wish to perform publicly. Of course, the banning of live music (which had a profoundly devastating impact on local musicians and bands) in Bangalore as well as the banning of dancing in pubs has caught quite a lot of media attention a few years ago. But even for ‘serious performers of dance’ in India, a very subtle form of censorship disguises itself as a ‘performance licence’. Amongst several things that the performer has to agree not to do, the vague statements could potentially restrict the freedom of any kind of creative expression – the performance must not have “any impropriety of language”, “indecency of dress, dance, movement or gesture”, or “anything likely to excite feelings of sedition or political discontent”. The basis on which impropriety or indecency, or in fact, the expression of political discontent is to be measured is not mentioned anywhere, potentially limiting the creative freedom of a dancer to speak, dance, or dress a certain way.

So, when the best of circumstances do not present themselves to a creative person, these killers of creativity make the creation of art an even more difficult task than it was to begin with.

 

#India- Immortalising broken wings #dance #Vaw #Justice #1billionrising


TANUSHREE GANGOPADHYAY, The Hind Jan 18,2013

Swiss pianist Elizabeth Sombart and Indian dancer Mallika Sarabhai.
Swiss pianist Elizabeth Sombart and Indian dancer Mallika Sarabhai.

A dance to commemorate women battling gender violence.

 If music be the food of love, play on, wrote Shakespeare. Swiss pianist Elizabeth Sombart’s music comes from her love for all the “assassinated” women of the world, whose memory she wants to honour. As she plays she asks listeners to “come light a star in the memory of a woman or girl you know who was killed. Give her name and we shall together build a celestial memorial for her”.

Elizabeth is as good as her word. Recently in India, she described her project ‘Women with Broken Wings’: “There are so many war memorials the world over. All of them are for men. There’s no space to commemorate the billions of women whose lives are snuffed out, who are raped or are victims of other kinds of gender violence.” Her memorial (womenwithbrokenwings.org) strives to raise global consciousness on crimes against the women “whose wings were broken. With this simple action, we shall help remember and bring about a change.” She relates a poignant story of a Lebanese teenager who had expressed her admiration for the Web site. Ironically and tragically, a month later she became a victim of honour killing by her brother.

In the backdrop of the murderous gangrape in Delhi recently and the fury in its wake, Elizabeth’s collaborative ballet with renowned Indian danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, director of the Ahmedabad-based Darpana Dance Academy, comes at the right time.

Titled ‘Women with Broken Wings’, it premiered in Ahmedabad last fortnight. Pointing out that violence against women remains unabated. Mallika says her experience of three decades had convinced her that more than “serious talk” cultural programmes worked better in raising public consciousness. Her dance, accompanied by Elizabeth on the piano, portrays the 11 states of mind of the assaulted woman — birth; discovery and exploration; the inner and outer worlds; unknown fears and self-discovery; betrayal and breakdown; lament; fleeing and failing; the soul’s cry; the march of the martyrs; consolation; and, finally, the way forward.

The performance, choreographed by Yadavan Chandran and Mallika Sarabhai, held the audience spellbound. One vignette depicting carefree childhood, where Mallika enacts a girl playing hopscotch, is particularly poignant. Elizabeth’s rendition of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17The Tempest, was apt for the section ‘Unknown Fears and Self-Discovery’. Her interpretation of Chopin for both ‘Betrayal and Breakdown’ and ‘Lament’ was truly extraordinary. The ‘March of the Martyrs’ was followed by silence in a mark of respect. The performance ended on a positive note, with ‘The Way Forward’ exuding hope.

The work resonated perfectly with the One Billion Rising (OBR) international campaign against violence spearheaded by renowned playwright and actor Eve Ensler. As Mallika explains, “Our common interest got us to collaborate and participate in the OBR campaign.” She now plans to organise a garba dance by over 20,000 people, including children, to mark the culmination of OBR on February 14, also celebrated as Valentine’s Day or the international day of love.

“Since the OBR call is to dance against violence, garba is the most relevant in Gujarat, and artists will compose songs for us. Every woman here dances it during Navratri. Gujarat is a State where hundreds of rapes take place, where innumerable women are burnt because of dowry, and where violence on women is rapidly increasing. This is also a State where lots of villages are without girls because of rampant sex-selective abortions. We need to end this genocide and gendercide urgently, and we are using our abilities and art to do this,” she says.

The ballet performance in Delhi last week was followed by Eve Ensler’s dramatic rendering of vignettes from her play I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, at an event hosted by Sangat, which is coordinating OBR’s South Asia campaign. The ballet next travelled to Chandigarh (Punjab) and Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).

Delighted with the collaboration, Elizabeth stresses that there is no place for ego in music: “I dedicate every note to each woman who has suffered violence, and there are at least 100,000 notes in a ballet like this. So I believe I am honouring 100,000 women each time I play it.”

© Women’s Feature Service

 

 

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