Archives for the month of: January, 2015

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This afternoon, all my senses were absorbed in a conversation with a dear friend over the telephone, when my left foot felt the gentle tickle of something beneath it. My eyes spontaneously closed shut, as I felt the spirit of my blind grandmother awaken inside of me. In the silent darkness before me, my foot momentarily suspended in the air like a crane in slumber, I tried to imagine what caresses at my feet? The delicate wisps of carbon from a burnt paper scroll or a wooden log? A fragile wing of a large, dead moth ? Or was it a leaf, half dead and half alive.

Soon after, my eyes lit open to see extraordinary pieces of ART everywhere. They lay silently strewn upon the expanse of an ordinary, one foot by one foot square, earthen hued, tiled floor held together in a dull grey cement grid. The artists: Lichen, Moss, Black ants with pale lime-green, rounded bottoms, tiny grains of Sand, a sprinting ashladen Spider! All of these artists seem terribly busy inside an unpredictable, silent, inward randomness that leaves me awed !

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Dancer Indu G, during her 'Nangiar Koothu' recital. Photo courtesy ~ Vinay Kumar

Dancer Indu G, during her ‘Nangiar Koothu’ recital. Photo courtesy ~ Vinay Kumar

I HAVE A DEEPLY HIDDEN AND INARTICULATE DESIRE FOR SOMETHING BEYOND THE DAILY LIFE – Virginia Woolf

On the night of 7th January, 2015, I saw an intense and moving, ‘Nangiar Koothu’ performance by Dr. Indu G. Seated close to the oil lamp that framed her face, I entered the grief of separation and longing, through this abstract narrative enacted by one woman, supported by four percussionists. She transformed to become a mystical channel for both the masculine and feminine energy.

This classical recital was an experience of sensuality and passion through theatre, music and dance, that made me go pale, as well as blush with delight. I saw her, the beautiful Indu G, transform herself into a celestial being, and create before these plain eyes, from a portal of gaping, dark void ~ an elephant couple flaming their love with delicious bites of choicest tender leaves, with a range of provocative, body nudges; The lustful love turned tender and compassionate, when a fragile and hungry fawn, nestled at the breast of a fierce She-Leopard; Butterflies magnetised towards the light of a flaming fire only to meet their death, but later miraculously reborn; I rejoiced at the sight of a dancing, cautious yet magnificent peacock, lured by scattering grains, at the hands of a playful, dancing maiden; Then alarmingly, the moments of heightening sensuality, were jarred open with a crescendo of maddening drums. The dancer’s body took form of Musth elephant, gone mad with the heat of sexual desire. The earth flung open as he ripped everything apart on his path with his sharp tuskers! Destroying and uprooting trees with his heavy, steaming, and muscular body. Two sparring elephants raged into battle to win their lady love.

Washing over this entire narrative was the love and longing between Rama and Sita, both separated from each other’s physical presence, now torn with grief as they witnessed in wilderness of nature and in the animal kingdom, an ebb and flow of cyclical sensuality, compassion, heat and desire. This unbearable solitude created mirages of hope, making the other’s physical presence so real throughout the performance. At the end, the spirit of love wins despite the absence of the physical presence of the one you love. Three hours had passed when I awakened from this celestial dream. The dancer left the proscenium, her yellow-hued face hidden behind a blazing gold hand fan, and the music returned into expanse of a silent, dark, black void.

This Nangiar Koothu recital, was curated by dramaturge and writer, Rustom Barucha, in collaboration with the American author, Professor Paula Richman. This performance was a beautiful ode to the passing of Theatre veteran, Veenapani Chawla, founder of Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts and Research, and her eternal presence in the world of theatre.

20th December 2014,

There are moments, when one gets entangled in thoughts that pull one’s morale down. Reaching out to kindred sister souls, a playfulness returns. One turns to the journal, allowing oneself to hear one’s own thoughts, with soft eyes. Then, these fingers pick up a paint brush, and from a pool of darkness, there appears the swirling image of a fiery Kathak dancer, Aditi Mangaldas, under the blanket of dense and dark air, singing poetry with her breath and limbs…

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

~ Rainer Maria Rilke.

Aditi Mangaldas, a delicate maiden draped in translucence. Her bronzish~orange organza lingers upon a quiet dawn. A poetry, a page, unwritten for the Sun God. Luminous speckles, swirling like mad mystics, dance upon a single shaft of sunlight. Her darts hit the core. A painting comes alive. Rain drops from a painted curtain, gently part with her dainty fingers, peeping out through an ornate scroll of a Persian Manuscript. Afloat upon a haunting melody of the sarangi, she carries me into the thicket of a dark and dense valley. All around, a forgotten ancient civilisation. She lays me gently in the soft light of dawn. Hidden behind the dark veil of swelling monsoon clouds, she appears, and then disappears. I am alive in the total surrender of her hallowed embrace. Every cell in this body, wet and glistening inside her sudden rain. A bud within, feels the warmth of his nearing lips, a million miles away. Your Pakhavaj speaks to me. It pleads not, but commands me to enter. Open the door. Your command rips open this heart, and there I see a resplendent warm face, bloom from deep inside of me. I receive your light, your sound, your breath.

O Who are You, Who Spins & Unspins?
O Madness!
O Thundering Drums!
O Sweet Melody!
O Mother!
O Grave from Yonder!
Who are you resurrecting from this brokenness?
Who is beating at my heart?

You tease me.
You beckon me to taste you.

O love sweet love!
How you play at my heart?
Plucking the tiniest string of my being.

I am tuning in to your music, to your chiselling.
Your beak pecks at this dead wood.
You peck open a cave, place an egg in its hollow, and say,
“”NOW. Yes, it is now. You are ready, my love! NOW. NOW. NOW.”

Now it is.

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Many a times, she dances blindfolded upon this path, cloaked in vulnerability and judgment. Swimming inside a pool of darkness. All around her, a trapeze of complex knots. Is it time to return to her garden of love, away from these bustling cityscapes, she wonders ? The solitude of the ash-laden spider, resting like a petite statuette upon the bark of the Gulmohar tree, beckons her impoverished soul. Miserable and distraught, she swallows her own darkness, awaiting some kindling to spark her creative flow …

Distance So birds see the glass. Turquoise

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