Monday, November 18, 2013

Joy of Expression

I remember stalwarts reminisce about their early experiences with their great gurus, saying, “We were asked to practice ‘sa-pa-sa’ for one entire year” or “Till this day, my rehearsals start with a half an hour of tatta adavu”. And why not? This is the reason why they are nationally and internationally acclaimed, full time performers. They have dedicated their entire life to practicing and promoting their art forms.

On the other hand, after six or seven years of basic training, how many aspirants continue to learn or pursue full time / part time performing career? Not even 0.5% of the lot i.e. more than 99% deprive themselves of the ‘joy of expression’ that they found while learning the art forms.

When this is the scenario with trained aspirants, what about those who just want to ‘stay in touch’ with dance, not in its physical capacity of displaying the excellence, or ‘perfection’ as they put it, but to experience the psychological and spiritual experience and display to enhance their capacity as a better human being?

This thought came to me when I approached the sixth decade of my ‘staying in touch’ with Bharatanatyam and two and a half decades of being completely into it.

The ideology of rigorous training got challenged on receiving an invitation to perform ‘Savitri- The Saga of Eternity’, one of Rasadhwani’s prestigious performances on April 1st 2012. To stage this show, we required 10 to11 trained mature dancers. But for 3 to 4 trained dancers, who also were out of touch for few years, the rest had been with the institute for less than a year and had good training in basics.
They came together. Their team spirit, maturity, sincerity, dedication and hard work encouraged me to trust them and I agreed to present the production. Those who have seen this particular ‘Savitri’ production have repeatedly said that it was one of the best performances by Rasadhwani team. I still wonder, this was made possible maybe because of the trust, my instruction to ‘just enjoy and be true to the self’, and/or some  miraculous divine grace!

I had all the reasons to get encouraged again when, in October 2013, a dedicated team of 10 recently joined adult beginners sincerely performed for 13 minutes, the ‘Ekshloki Ramayana’ on live music, choreographed using few basic adavu-s. The purpose was very simple - to experience the joy of expression through classical dance.

I am thankful to my students for the demystification process that I underwent; teaching, learning and above all, expressing through Indian classical dance, is a task that demands a very special ability. But above all, it demands space, freedom and mutual trust.

- Dr. Uma Anantani

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