Top Ten Most Annoying Garden Buzzwords and Catchphrases of 2011

Most amusing read today. Thanks Mary

Black Walnut Dispatch

Time to reflect back on the year and make a list!  Most of these annoying phrases have been around for longer than one year, of course, but since this is my first list it’s all fair game!

“Blurring the Lines Between Indoors and Out” 

Did P. Allen Smith coin this phrase?  Because he must say it at least six times per show.  But it seems like I can’t get through any gardening magazine or show without encountering this gem at least once (or its variations — see #2 and #3).  I don’t know about you, but unless I’ve been drinking heavily, I would find it highly disturbing to discover that the boundary between the inside and outside of my home had been blurred in any way.  When I leave a room, I really need to know whether or not to bring my keys with me.  I don’t want to feel like…

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Rose tinted glasses

When parents enroll their kids in dance classes, it appears to me, they put on a pair of multicoloured spectacles, which they almost never take off. From then on, their vision of the world is tinted. Whether consciously or not, they imagine their child will be one day (in the near future, mind you) a prima donna, beautifully adorned, reigning centre stage – a cynosure of all eyes.

I don’t blame them, my own mother had this vision and as a mother I am sure I may be attacked by this ‘flue’ as well. As an artist however, I do believe that, the pinnacle is not the dressed up moment when one is in an adoring public eye but the very moment one no longer wants it. The joy of dancing is not in the applause or acclaim one is going to get at the end; it is in the very process of dancing.

Click here to read what a well knower teacher of dance who has taught celebrities has to say.

Food mania

As I spend another lazy morning going over the dailies and weeklies I spot two parallel food trends in today’s world.

One, prices are rising and so are concerns rise about the survival of those Below Poverty Line, Marginally above Poverty Line and such. Experts say that after enjoying the economic boom, we are just following the inflationary devil in other countries. The RBI has taken several debatable measures to curb the increase while the Central Government watches the vote banks dwindle with a worried brow. Ofcourse the current nuclear deal circus in the Indian Government, and possibility of before-term elections has the media relegating this issue to the side columns.

Two, juggling for column space with articles on this issue are those on the nutritional deficiency in excessive (i.e over-processed carbohydrates and wrong fats) food intake (read obesity, life-style disorders). This is not just of the fast-food gorging, alcohol guzzling well-to-do. The not-so-well-to-do are also taking in wrong foods by choice.

Alongside statistics of food wastage, we have statistics of the starving in Ethiopia and Somalia. And even more morbidly funny is the declaration of “Oil prices + Food prices = security crisis” by the developed countries!

What a contradiction! though not much of it is an enigma. What do you think?

As I sit down to breakfast, I had better recheck the menu and say a small prayer.

Why should one learn classical dance? part 3

Continuing from my previous post:

The next 5 reasons to learn:

#6 Indian Classical Dance requires intense and perfect body and mind coordination. e.g the variations in footwork -are based on rhythm/beat (Taala) cycles which run into mathematical multiplication & combinations. This develops higher mental abilities and students have been seen to perform well academically (in non-arts subjects) as well, despite having less time on hands than others.

#7 The traditional compositions are to songs written by the Bhakti poets (Tyagaraja, Dikshitar, Jayadeva, Annamacharya ) and later. These poets especially Tyagaraja were Saints for whom music was a spiritual calling and their work reflects their spiritual progress towards Mukti (the final release/salvation). Hence if performed with a sense of awareness about the depth of meaning of the literature (sahitya) and with devotion (bhakti), Indian classical dance is form of worship and a spiritual path in itself (validated in The Vedas themselves).

#8 As with other extra curricular activities, learning and doing well in this field gives the student a sense of individual identity and confidence. Besides owing to the cultural and traditional origin of dance, it also provides a feel of cultural identity (and hence has become so popular among NRIs) and rootedness.

#9 Dance is a form of expression. There is a more or less fixed grammar and vocabulary of expressions in classical dance, but the expressions themselves (abhinaya) can be as vast as the human heart can feel and express. So one can choreograph to any kind of music and any of content. That is why while many dancers after learning the forms break the mould to explore different forms (of movement and expression (e.g. Astad Deboo, Chandralekha, Mallika Sarabhai) , equally many choose to stay more or less within the mould and explore the boundaries (e.g. Birju Maharaj, Yamini Krishnamurthi, Malavika Sarrukai) . The latter find that there is enough to explore in this life and many more to come.

#10 If you dance for yourself, as well as you can (whatever your given constraints), and for no other reason than to make yourself happy – Indian Classical Dance is a way of life and perhaps the best.

Why should one learn classical dance? part 2

So why should one learn Indian classical dance? As a student, teacher, performer and mother, I offer Ten reasons:

#1 It is an excellent form of exercise as it includes yoga based stretching, aerobic and high-endurance movement levels. Besides the basic grammar of movement, in pure dance or nritta, the focus is on developing speed, strength and stamina. So you will burn more calories in half and hour than free-style dancing or most recommended exercise/gym plans.

#2 It offers great benefits in developing the body of a growing child eg. improves posture, strengthens the arch of the foot and fingers and eye & neck muscles.

#3 All the external benefits of exercise such a toned body, glowing skin and healthy hair ( not to mention a pretty way of smiling more often) can also be gained from it.

#4 It offers many therapy benefits to handicapped children e.g. improves body balance and mind-limb coordination. Can be taught to visually and hearing impaired individuals as well.

#5 Indian Classical dance has been described as being at the top of the pyramid of all other art forms. i.e. a student/performer has to learn the Language (Sanskrit or classic regional), song/literature (sahitya) and the music composition (sangeeta) and imbibe the visual ( as evidenced in traditional painting and temple sculpture), spatial (expanding or truncating movements according to stage space) & time (rhythm) elements. The literature and ethos of the dance compositions are based on mythology, customs and traditions still alive in the country. The dancer brings about the grand synthesis of all the arts in his/her self and thus the performance. This means that a student of dance is a well rounded student of the arts.

If you have got this far then my next post will give you the next 5 reasons. Go for it!

Why should one learn classical dance? part 1

After my previous post on what it takes to succeed in a classical dance career, it seems to me I have put the cart before the horse. Why should one learn it in the first place?

Unless one was smitten in childhood or even later owing to some inexplicable karmic connection (as in my case) or was dragged into a class by an ambitious (or more likely overloaded) mother, why indeed would one sign up?

It appears to me that most people do things that are sort of ‘going around’ (such as horse-riding, roller-skating and abacus classes are now in India), perhaps simply out of convenience.

A lot of things with the ‘India’ tag have become ‘in’ today – meditation, yoga (yoga mats, neti pots… next they’ll sell ‘grass under tree’ online! ), Buddhism, ‘Vegan traditional/home -made’ Indian cooking and so on and so forth. Well, Indian Classical dance is ‘in’, though more so Bharathanatyam. Just search YouTube and if you know anything about Indian classical dance, I guarantee that you will feel like laughing at these confident ignoramuses commenting on legends of Kuchipudi and Odissi (from ripped CDs to boot), “this is not real traditional Indian dance” and “very poor Bharatanatyam technique”!!!

Next in popularity come the more spectacular parts of our classical forms. General audiences always applaud plate & pot dancing ( part of Kuchipudi reportoire) or dancing with lamps more than a demanding and exhausting Varnam (the central piece of a traditional Bharatanatyam performance). Competition participants know that even a fast paced Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi Tillana will visually appear slower after a shower of Kathak chakkars. Kathak dancers’ swirling costumes arrested in motion are a favourite of the coffee table book photographers. Indeed, more coffee table books by artists themselves, classical dance based TV competitions and the recent entry of 328 Kuchipudi dancers in the Guinness World Records – all are brand images, which are increasing the popularity of the form in question.

Yes classical dance is in, but so is Salsa, Rumba, Cha Cha Cha & Jiving. Celebrity based dance Reality shows such as ‘Nach Baliye’ and ‘Jhalak Dikhlaja’ also emphasise on variety of form as equivalent to creativity. They also use pre-recorded film music, use all the glitz and glamour of the varied costumes and stage format to great effect. In the end, it is always about variety and more variety and more. But to what end?

Is this quest for more variety in everything from food to home design to viewing choices, symptomatic of a deeper need?

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