Dancers discuss how their thoughts and physique reply after they step out of the traditional repertoire
“Choreographing is like problem-solving,” mentioned Rasika Kumar, a Bharatanatyam dancer from San Jose. “When you must make one thing out of nothing, the place do you begin? I’ve a really sensible strategy — I break it down into smaller objectives.”
Dance Reflections, a three-part sequence, befell over three successive Sundays, with conversations amongst three artistes every weekend. Introduced by Shreya Nagarajan Singh Arts Growth Consultancy and Bharatanatyam dancer Christopher Gurusamy, ‘Dance Reflections: Conversations about Critiquing Oneself’ comprised a Nritha version with dancers Sudharma Vaithiyanathan, Meenakshi Srinivasan and Bijayini Satpathy; an Abhinaya version with Parshwanath Upadhye, Uma Sathyanarayanan and Ramya Harishankar; and a ‘Past the Margam’ Version with Rasika Kumar, Mythili Prakash and G. Narendra.
Each session was adopted by a spherical of Q&A. Whereas dance preserved and practised by conventional performers in temples and courts lives on in a brand new milieu in India and outdoors, the practitioners of Indian classical dance discover new methods to narrate to and adapt them. The previous and the current inform Christopher’s inventive journey as he hosted intimate ‘lounge conversations’ with the dancers, each senior and junior.
For Christopher, it was all about growing a dance ideology, an aggregation of coaching, geography, creativity and life experiences that form your aesthetic. Dancers have been questioned about follow, the thought of follow for efficiency, the method of making and critiquing by a trusted ‘dance household’, together with mirrors and recordings.
On inventive impulses
On questions regarding follow, concepts and inventive impulses, one factor got here by —– there was no tampering with the centuries-old adavu system of coaching and the margam in Bharatanatyam. As with the bhangis and chauka in Odissi, the bottom is sacrosanct. It’s the physique conditioning and the packaging to go well with viewers style that appear to be evolving. As Parshwanath talked about, “A five-minute Instagram video is what dancers are practising now.”
Rasika, on being attentive to suggestions, mentioned that moreover her mom, Mythili Kumar, who’s a dancer-teacher and her husband, whose lack of publicity is efficacious, she has a couple of others she listens to. “I watch my movies and listen to suggestions however I prefer to detach from it. Finally, I attempt to develop my very own sense. I leverage the margam and do new items. In ‘Shakti Unveiled’ I emulated a goddess reacting to catcalling, an extension of a relationship of a person or god to a girl. We glance critically at mythology, making an attempt to justify; I assumed why don’t I take a look at myself like that and do one thing primarily based on my life. I didn’t wish to use an present composition, I needed to create one. I wrote it in English, received it translated into Kannada, and set it to music. I strive some stuff and see it, then edit. I work higher on tight timelines.”
For Mythili Prakash, choreography is extra philosophical, “Choreography is the sum of every little thing you might be within the second. I first choreographed ‘Surya’ in 2007, after a go to to the planetarium. The solar is pre-historic, a common image however now I really feel I’ve modified; its time to reassess. Identical for ‘Jwala’, which I choreographed in 2017; I had skilled demise and delivery as a cyclical course of. Now I really feel I can’t do it with the identical honesty. With my mentors Malavika (Sarukkai) and Akram (Khan), I learnt concerning the honesty of intention. Malavika taught me to be immersed in that second, really feel the gravitas. It’s a thoughts after which physique method. In Akram’s work, I noticed the way it hit the intestine first after which moved up. He would say there is no such thing as a want to elucidate — what they really feel is extra necessary than what they make of it. I develop into over-critical typically; then I give up as to what’s working and what’s not. I come again and attempt to be kinder to myself,” defined Mythili.
“Once I work exterior the margam, the choreography is so central, from the place you began to the place you wish to finish. I really like choreography… however I’m additionally fascinated by manodharma, like peeling layers or unfolding lyrics in an abhinaya class. I don’t wish to be consumed with creating product. I’m studying about Balasaraswathi, and I really feel I wish to relate to bop that manner. I need to have the ability to discover a new connection each time I repeat the piece. I’m full of duty as I used to be born to bop; my mom Viji Prakash being a dancer and a trainer.”
G. Narendra spoke about his expertise as a younger, gifted choreographer in 1999 when he choreographed ‘Abhyaasa’, a tackle the gurukulam system for the Cleveland Cultural Alliance’s tour of the U.S. His selection of theme and concepts have been out of the field — he wished 4 margams to be learnt, so dancers on stage would genuinely be harassed about what they have been anticipated to carry out on any given day, similar to in dance class, as additionally a Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi, each of which have been denied to him. Errors and jokes have been made on goal on stage. Adyar Lakshman as Guru added dignity to the function; Narendra’s selection of dancers and musicians — Bragha, Mahalakshmi, Sreelatha, Pleasure, O.S. Arun, Ramesh, the set-up and the opposite particulars, introduced again the expertise afresh.
Narendra has come again into the classical fold after 20 years and carries the identical imaginative and prescient of timeless artistry, one thing that he’s not in a position to match right into a one-hour efficiency capsule. As Christopher mentioned, “He’s so natural and so trustworthy; I see him as the ultimate level within the journey.”
The Chennai-based creator writes on classical dance.