By M.V.Ramakrishnan

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Dynamic Folk Music And Dance From Ukraine

Here's one of my reviews of a folk music-and-dance event in the course of the well-drawn-out Festival of USSR in India in 1987-88 :-


Siri Fort  --  Historic site where New Delhi's largest auditorium (2000+ seats) is located.  

Talkatora  --  Historic woodlands and garden in New Delhi, where its second largest indoor stadium (3000+) is situated.

Bombay/Madras  --  British-regime names of Indian cities now called Mumbai/Chennai.    

New Delhi
22 April 1988
(Extract from an article in my Friday column) 

Ukrainian folk ensemble

.  .  .  .  .  The Virsky Dance Company, a large Soviet ensemble specializing in Ukrainian folk music and dance, landed in Delhi on the hottest pre-summer day in 15 years.  But the dozens of dancers showed no apparent ill-effects, and looked fresh and energetic in their dynamic exertions in the cool Siri Fort auditorium on Sunday evening, when they gave the first of their four performances on successive days.  The music provided by a small group playing various resounding instruments, including folk flutes and an accordion-like Ukrainian fabrication, was as vigorous and full-blooded as the dancing.

Although several hundred people were present on the occasion -- including a large number of eager schoolboys in white uniform -- the audience looked rather small in the enormous auditorium.  The rows and rows of vacant seats created a negative ambiance.  It is true that this did not affect the liveliness of the proceedings ;  but when I talked to  some of the musicians during the intermission, they did sound somewhat disappointed. 

It will be recalled that the Moiseyev Dance Company had attracted a mammoth gathering of several thousands of people in the Talkatora indoor stadium on two successive days a few months ago.  The Ukrainian show is equally spectacular, and I wonder why it did not draw a full house in the Siri hall.  Was the publicity inadequate?  Was the pricing too high?  Or was there any other inhibiting factor?

The Festival of India Directorate would do well to look closely into the reasons for the unexpected and relatively thin attendance.   The USSR Festival in India is the result of extraordinarily painstaking efforts, and it is necessary that the largest possible number of people are able to have a taste of  the Soviet arts when the visiting artists are here . . . .

PostScript, 2016

Indelible impressions

My Friday music column in THE  HINDU's New Delhi edition in the 1980s and '90s was mainly about concepts and colors, traditions and trends, styles and standards, values and organization, and not about tiresome technical details --precisely as things had been earlier in Bombay and Madras, and have been afterwards in Madras.   

So, looking at the above text now, I can't understand why I didn't follow up my impression about the audience and survey the scene on any of the next three days when the Ukrainian dancers performed in the same venue, particularly because the show was spectacular and was certainly worth repeated viewing.  And also because the Soviet Republics were usually very efficient and effective in organizing their cultural events in India -- as was evident, for example, in the context of the twin Moiseyev shows a few months earlier, both of which I had attended.  

Perhaps my reflections on those two formidable events would be very relevant and interesting in this context ;  but unfortunately I can't find them in my old records.  There was no online edition those days, and the contents of the newspaper were all stored in microfilm, where I'll have to look for the missing article now.  

Anyway, so powerful and vivid were my impressions of these infrequent performances by energetic and colorfully dressed  folk musicians and dancers from Russia and Eastern Europe that the memories of watching those few live programs 30 or 40 years ago are still fresh in my mind -- like, for example, a vigorous open-air Moiseyev show I attended in 1972.   So let me tell that story next!

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