Overhauled...at the workshop!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Usually, I have my laptop connected, switched on and logged in throughout the weekend. There are several reasons for this. For one, my offshore counterparts
in Chennai are working on Fridays and might send me mails or need me for some clarifications over Gtalk. For another, I can chat with friends, read blogs and
I have something to do when the TV is conquered by the hubby watching cricket.

This weekend, I did not even take the laptop out of the bag. I did not have time!

I was attending a dance workshop on Friday and Saturday and I literally feel overhauled! I felt all my spare parts coming off but the whole experience has
left me energized and maybe I have some extra years added to my life.

For the uninitiated, the students of dance often have workshops and lecdems (lecture demonstrations). A lecdem is where a senior artiste (along with his/her students) gives a lecture with demonstrations on some topic related to dance. The participants just listen. A workshop is where each person attending also participates. Usually, a complete new 'item' is taught during the workshop and the Audio CD, Video CD and written material is shared with the participants.

This workshop was conducted by the UAE chapter of ABHAI(Association of Bharatanatyam artists of India). While ABHAI has been active for more than a year now in Dubai, this was their debut workshop. And as a participant, I must say that it was a great success.

It was a small scale one as the organizers did not know how good the response would be. We had 15 participants which they felt was pretty good for a debut workshop. It was a good mix of teachers and senior students. The workshop was from 3 to 5 pm on Friday and Saturday.

The workshop was conducted by Ms. Anjana Ganesh, one of the popular Bharatnatyam teachers in Dubai who is herself the student of Sri. Narasimhachari and Smt.Vasanthalakshmi. She taught us a 'padam' composed by Sri. Madurai R Muralidharan for which she herself had done the choreography.

A padam is a short and lyrical item in bharatnatyam. The essence of a padam is usually sringara (romance) or bhakti (devotion). This one was a devotional peice about Lord Ganesha - Omkara Vadivam. It is a beautiful composition. The choreography was neither too complicated nor too simple. It was easy to learn but really fast with complex rhythm patterns and footwork which meant that you can perfect it only with practice.

It was a complete item starting with a virutham (a slow verse sung in praise of the Lord),followed by pallavi, anupallavi and charanam.Both anupallavi and charanam ended with a swaram. We had to learn the whole thing in the 4 hours.

It was fun to learn in such a group - new people with different backgrounds, styles and teachers.It was challenging to learn quickly. It was enriching to add a new beautiful item to our repository.

At the end of the second day, we were given the audio CD. At the end of the second day, we were given written material and also a certificate of participation.

Regarding the video CD which we were to be given to enable us to refer later, the organizers had this bright idea. They decided that they will make the participants perform and record. So they took the video in 3 parts with 3 sets of people. They will be sending us the video for our future reference.

Performing for the video was the most challenging part. Though none of us had it perfect and all of us made mistakes, we still managed.

It also made me realize that I had lot of parts on my body that I never knew existed before. Thank God for my very own personal masseur at home ;-D

The Making Of......

Friday, May 8, 2009

It has been some time since I did any proper blogging.

It hasn't been for the lack of interesting things happening with me. Except for a slight lull on the work front as a natural result of the recession, things have been good.

Weekdays are a mix of busy and boring days depending on the work. The financial year that ended in March was good as our team over achieved the target and we received lot of appreciation for the work from the head office. My name has been mentioned in all the right places. So even though I don't expect any personal benefit to happen out of it, it is still good to see results for your work.

Weekends have been full of creative pursuits. Dance classes are on full swing and I can't explain how much I'm enjoying those. Apart from that, I have been lucky to play a part, albeit small, in the creation of something beautiful.

My husband and his brother are talented musicians. Though both of them haven't really had formal training in music, my husband is a good singer and his brother plays the harmonium and the key board. They have lived and breathed bhajans all their life. So recently, my BIL decided to give form to his lifelong dream - of composing his own music and bringing out a CD.

So it all started with him composing a few bhajans of his own.

He has a small recording studio in his house in Abu dhabi and he would compose songs and then call up my husband, play it over the phone and discuss it with him. We were quite impressed by the music he churned out and so we also got quite excited about the CD idea.

Though most of bhajans were composed with lyrics, I did get a chance to help out in a few of them with the lyrics. It was really interesting, to say the least.

Soon, he had a set of nice new bhajans to which he added a few rare, traditional ones and made up a list for the CD. The plan was for my husband and some of their friends in the bhajan group here in Dubai to lend their voices.

The B was of the opinion that if it is done, it has to be done the right way. So the next step was to get someone to do the orchestration, sound programming and recording. He thought of a cousin back home in India who is a professional in the field. Soon we were recording tracks of all the songs and sending it to him to work on. There is no way I can explain the amount of communication that used to happen every day. I'll just say that Du got a lot of good business.

So the cousin would do the orchestration (using the keyboard) and send us songs which would go back and forth till the B was completely satisfied. He knew exactly what he wanted in each song of his and there was so much creativity around that I was just watching in amazement. I had never imagined the amount of work that goes into the making of one single song...

Once the music was finalized, the cousin was getting the original instrumental music tracks recorded in India for all the songs.Tabla, Violin, Guitar, Sitar, Keyboard, flute, Veena, Saxophone...

We had one problem that we did not have any good female voices in the group here. So we decided to get those done from India. By this time, the B had decided to go all out and do it perfectly since we were anyway spending lot of time, effort and money on it. So the result was that along with the H and bhajan group friends, we now had 3professional playback singers of the Malayalam music industry to sing in the CD.

We were lucky to get an excellent studio to do the recording here through some well wishers. So one weekend, the cousin came down with the entire instruments track ready. We spent a whole weekend in the studio recording the voices for all the songs. I was right there doing the job of providing hot water to the singers. :-) The cousin then went back and got the voice recording done from the singers in India.

Meanwhile, we broke our heads to come up with the right name for the CD. After lot of searching and discussions, we arrived at a name that we all agreed on.

The incessant communication between India and UAE continued - for doing the final corrections, adding the effects and a whole lot of things that they do after the entire recording is over.

Today, we are at the final stages of completion. The plan is to first bring out a set of 100 CDs and introduce it. Later, further marketing and distribution is planned. So yesterday, we were selecting designs for the cover and finalizing the caption to be displayed on the cover.So hopefully in another week's time we should have the first set of CDs out!

It has been a great journey so far and now we are eagerly waiting to see the response of the listeners.

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