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The healing arts


PEACEFUL JOURNEY: Alarmel Valli and TM Krishna (left) will conduct workshops for an audience that has been deprived of the arts for over three decades

Svanubhava's cultural ethos is open, democratic, inclusive and very liberal. Five years ago, it embarked on a journey to create a festival - that was essentially, not exclusively - meant for and curated by students of music in Chennai. Over the years, the festival has broadened its ambit to embrace more than music. "It's imperative for students of a performing art to get out of the bubble, " says Chennai-based classical musician and Svanubhava organiser TM Krishna. "This festival attempts to reiterate the fact that enrichment of every art happens from everything you experience, including other art forms. Believe me, the best time to assimilate those experiences are when you are still a student. "

Last year, Svanubhava travelled to Delhi, and in collaboration with the Gandharva Mahavidyala, turned national. This year, following its Chennai act, it will journey to Jaffna (Sri Lanka) and its neighbouring regions to participate in a festival where dancer Alarmel Valli and musician P Unnikrishnan will perform and conduct workshops for students. This will be a special treat for an audience that loves the classical arts but has been deprived of them for three decades now because of civil war.
The idea for a Svanubhava in Jaffna planted itself in TM Krishna's head shortly after he toured the northern provinces of Sri Lanka last October. "Performing in Jaffna, " he says, "was an amazing experience. " He met with the Indian high commissioner in Sri Lanka and managed to get financial support from the Indo-Sri Lanka Foundation for an August festival.

In Chennai, students from different schools will congregate at the Rukmini Arangham housed at the venerable Kalakshetra campus to experience a dazzling line-up of events. Apart from Carnatic and Hindustani recitals, there is Pavakathakali puppetry art from Kerala, a presentation on the art and science of percussion by a young group of percussionists, Manipuri dance, a bi-lingual theatre production called Land of Ashes by a Pondicherry collective that focusses on the humanitarian problems of the civil war in Sri Lanka, and a lecture on temples as social, economic and cultural centres.

Krishna clarifies that though he's at the helm, the festival is a team effort and credit for handling the endless logistics should go to the dedicated group of volunteers. This group of around 40 young artistes tirelessly offer their ideas, energy and executive skills to ensure all goes well. "Let me clarify, " says Krishna. "My ideas get no special weightage. Svanubhava is not about TM Krishna curating a festival. It's an entity in itself and one that, I can tell, is going in the right direction. "

For programme details, go to svanubhava. blogspot. in

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