Archives for category: Dance

Hours of uninterrupted creativity, and then enters the familiar sensation of feeling extremely cooped up in the house. The music, poetry, the passing rows of grey clouds, the drizzling rains, hot cups of tea in the cool monsoon drifts, fill my heart with longing. The trees outside my balcony appear refreshed. The white compound walls are speckled with snails. Peeping down my window, I listen to the splattering rain drops. I see wet, translucent stars, burst about the grooved, cement pavements. I look up into the sky for winged birds, but there is only the grey wash of cottony clouds, drifting with the mist. I have spent the morning, listening to new verses of 15th century, poet-pilgrims. I am envious of their mastery over prose, and the depth of their imaginative inspirations. I marvel at the voice of a contemporary musician sing aloud these ancient texts in lingering melodies. I hunger to rotate each syllable in my mouth. I thirst to gulp every sliver of emotion and meaning, deep into my cells. I enjoy wrapping my being with the rolling words of an ancient language. I ache to free my vocal chords, my breath, the hollows of my skull and bones with music, music and more music. I spend hours writing each syllable and sound in my native tongue. I enjoy feeling the texture of each word chosen by the poet. I enter the expanse of metaphors rising from each sentence. I wonder how these creations came to be. I discover a celestial musician by the name of तुम्बुरु, Tumburu [1]. I am enchanted with his half animal, half human form. My being fills with delight. I repeatedly listen to a select few musical compositions that have fallen upon my ears for the very first time. I am surprised with my voracious appetite for food by noon. I digest it all with ease. I return to the poetical verses and music, but my full belly, takes away attentiveness from the subtle. So, I spend my afternoon entering the world of thrilling fictions. The afternoon sky darkens. It is evening. An unexpected melancholy visits me. Looking outside my window, something within longs for the outdoors. I can hear whispers speak to me of the ocean. I can see inner landscapes of rains shimmering upon its vast body.

IMG_4076I feel the call of misty sprays of the salty waters. I drive out to the beach nearby. Parking my car, I switch off my cellphone. Stepping out, I look out at the humongous veil of grey before me. The sand is wet, and of an intense, yellow ochre color.

IMG_4074The dunes are flattened. The walk to the shoreline is easy, yet heavy footed. There are not too many people outdoors in the rains. Those who linger, appear bitten by the muse of mirth and mischief. Closer to the foaming shoreline, the ocean is dotted with muscular, dark brown, youthful lads, who are rolling in the sands, wrestling with the thickening, emerald-grey, translucent waves.

The waves appear to me like celestial mermaids, splashing waters with their beautiful tails, creating lyrical mists with the passing winds. Metamorphosing their lean bodies, they swell, crash, and mist into a tender foam. The ocean appears as if it were teasing, beckoning, rambunctiously playful, and heartily loud with a roaring, deep bellied, laughter. The rain is at first, a drizzle. I receive its pattering songs. There is an unusual slant to the crashing waves.

The sands near the shore appear raised up to a heightened, smooth platform due to the extreme ebb and flow of the joyful tides. Men lay upon these slants and enticingly await its unpredictable, lukewarm embrace. Women observe their bare bodies, allowing an inward, steady, climb of delight. But the ocean, surprises everybody. In a flash, a thrust of forceful waters, knocks out the timidity of hesitant women, buckling them into the arms of their Beloved. Their shocked bodies rejoice the wetness, awakening hysteria, while allowing men and women to merge in spontaneity into Her sensuous warmth and infinite expanse! I remain by myself, walking along the shoreline in gratitude and wonder. The joy around me is kindling. A stoic women with fine features appears beside me, her calm gaze fixed in a trance like state upon the ocean. She holds an excited toddler in her arms. Both, mother and child are shaded under a giant umbrella by her petite house-helper. I feel amused at the sight.

IMG_4078Suddenly, a powerful wave splashes over me. I am quick to receive its weave of smothering kisses. Compassion and tenderness, flush my entire being. With moistening eyes, I burst into my song. My voice taunts at the boisterous ocean. All around is a celebration of Mother nature’s friskiness. Though, none can out-sing the hearty sound of the vast ocean and the pouring rains. I enjoy my quietude in the crowd. I am singing and dancing with my eyes. Now, in a caressing voice. The booming ocean and the playful crowd share in my madness.

When my song comes to an end, the twilight is welcoming the dark lady of the night. I am soaked and feel nippy as the light around me, softly dims. I feel the call of my warm, dry nest. Turning around, I notice a lilt in my steps. I marvel at the fullness of my being. Cloaked in peace, I return to the warmth of our beautiful home. I switch on my cell phone. Refreshed after a warm meal and bath, I sit on my rocking chair. Our home is cooler due to the pouring rains. I write to Vidhya, my dear friend and gifted classical dancer, living across the seven continents from me. In response to sharing the fine details of my spirited day, she sends me a song in the voice of Shri T. M. Krishna, about a resplendent, benevolent Lord, who reclines on the vast, milky ocean, * सागर शयन विभो, Sagara Shayana Vibho [2] in Raag Bageshree, originally a signature composition of Shri. Manjapara Devesa Ramanathan known as MDR a Carnatic music composer and vocalist from the twentieth century. Sighing in deep contentment, I rest into the night, sparkling inside the exquisiteness of voice, poetry, music, marvelling once again, at an infinite downpour of a creative life-force.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumburu

[2] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bTFtDmFbWIY  

Photography by Kaarthikeyan Kirubhakaran

O lotus-naveled Padmanabha, who reclines atop Adisesha,
Along with his consort Lakshmi,   

I am depending on you. I am counting on you. I am leaning on you.

Do not dismiss me from your mind. Do not lose sight of me. Do not consign me to oblivion.

Do not forget me. Do not fail to remember me. 

*Dance inspired by the poetry and musical composition by Maharaja Swati Tirunal of Travancore (1816 – 1846), in Raag Behag, to the soulful voice of Carnatic vocalist, Shri T. M. Krishna, 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NMJHE1We5lI

O Lord
You are hurling such sweet words at me.

Please do stop. 

Please do stop. 
O Lotus-eyed one

Because of you, my happiness is rising and swelling to

Extraordinary, indescribable heights.

My Lord, please hear my earnest, wholehearted, devout request.


*Dance inspired by the poetry and musical composition by Maharaja Swati Tirunal of Travancore (1816 – 1846), in Raag Behag, to the soulful voice of Carnatic vocalist, Shri T. M. Krishna, 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NMJHE1We5lI

A few days ago, I saw the recital of an Odissi dancer from Bangalore, Vandana Supriya. She is beautifully present, and emotive in her sensuous movements. Carefree, well endowed with a voluptuousness, her fish-like languid eyes, are quiet in appearance. The moment she enters on stage, she draws me in. There is an inwardness to Vandana. Her dance is free of a deliberate studiousness. Her moves await none. Her being is free of cues from the words that the singer sang, free of synchronising with the pauses in between two phrases. Vandana is like a flowing river. Her dance, a continuous weave. A quality vital to the classical tradition of which I too am a student.


Is this something one is endowed with? 

Is it a journey of rigorous practice, for as long as it takes, to arrive at this fluidity? 

Is it both? 

There is a fire of desire that She enflames. In Her presence all quietens. In Her presence, I feel enveloped. I desire Her kiss, Her embrace, Her touch, Her breath. She and I rock on swings, opposite each other. She hums as She speaks with another, cradling my brokenness. I feel fleshed out. Delicately bejewelled I am, with the gentle wetness of morning dew. 

I witness a class being conducted by an inspired teacher. Gifted, devoted dancers learn a composition under his guidance. I had thought that I may join a few movement lessons if inspired. The class is already dancing intense choreographies, and so I only bathe in the sounds and movements of others, from a quiet corner in the room. Watching the sweating bodies carving space with clean lines, lining up inside neat foot work is always energising. It is also a world that I walk away from, in search of something beyond the physical discipline. I find Her. I receive many gifts after entering the softness and lightness of Her way of teaching. I miss Her today. She gifts me two beautiful years.

Watching his form, the introspections after, make me recognise a resistance in working with dance companies that strive for excellence and authenticity in their own unique manners, and also why I miss Her so.

The styles evolving in the now, are organised, well choreographed, military battalions, away from the lyrical, the poetic, the sensuous, and the lingering. There is a loss of the uniqueness of each human being, and their subtle nuances. It is a drying up and wilting of the Feminine. With Her, I return to a fullness, a grace, an ease, a silence, a gaze, a gait, a leaning, a letting go inside a beautifully balanced form. She holds the golden strings of that which I yearn to unite with, an allowing of the inner to be seen, and felt, through breath and movements of this physical body. Her physical being is no more, and yet there is Her voice inside of me, enveloping me, embracing me, cradling me. The mourning still is. I rise from the essence of Her teaching. I return to a playfulness. I allow myself my blossoming in its own time. I joyfully sprint through the mysterious, sensational labyrinths of life. Then one day, when all is aligned, just like that, a performance may happen. Letting go of ambitions, of desperation, of expectations, and relishing this beautiful life, wrapped up in the arms of my Beloved, and all my loved ones. May peace and well being be with all.

  

  

BHIMA

Who is he?

Did he know love?

Is he love?

Is he born again?

Is that birth devoid of might, and raw, open senses?

How are his answers met?

Who is he?

Did he know love?

Was he love?

Who is he?

There are stories within stories. There is love, rage, despair, hunger, obsession, surrender, vitality and death. And through it all weaves a story of great might, about the warrior prince, Bhima, the second of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata. The drums resound. Impulses guide. The eyes, focus. The pulse deepens. The emotions shoot out. The body speaks. The limbs and breath are slaves to his command. He contains. He consumes. He swells. He vomits. He swallows. He gulps. He shreds and tears. He scratches, till blood spills out from these guts. He roars and hammers the thickest boulders to dust. His being crushes all that lies in his way. He lusts. He allows. His senses, rise and ebb, in a visceral dance. He tastes the flesh of a demoness. He receives her nectar. She pours her wet river into his thirsting mouth. He convolutes. He twists and bends. Her passion, he drinks raw and bloody. They are consumed. They are allowing. They hibernate inside this fullness. They bear fruit. The seed is fertile in her red womb. He has to leave. He is commanded to leave. He leaves. She is who she is. She births. She dies. He is tormented. He loves another too. He is passion. He is raw passion. He is unhindered lust. He is love, unconditional, primal, visceral.

He, a spark of ignited flame, untempered, unhindered, involuntary, united with the essence of love!

Bhima, a powerful play infused with energy that is pulled out from every vein and every artery, and throbs with life through the genius of theatre artist, Vivek Vijayakumaran, supported by percussionist, Sachin Gurjale. http://www.ourtheatrearts.com

Astad Deboo, a magician, a sorcerer, a poet, a muse!

It is an evening buzzing with life, breath, and humid dew, before the unveiling of the unseen, unheard, the unfathomable. I am drawn to drape in vibrant, vermillion, and white muslin silk, fired up from within, after a meal with the artist, a day earlier. I am led to take a center seat, an uninterrupted view, of the dimly lit stage. A soft, golden glow illumines the compassionate face of Rukmini Devi alongside idols of the Devi and Nataraja. Well-groomed students of dance, sit cross-legged on the floor ahead of me. I drop inward. Feeling the energy around me, and within.

At the scheduled hour, the bells begin to toll, and in the silence and resonance, a row of sculpturesque, bodies shimmer, in a haze of soft light. The bells toll at an interval, laying me gently inside a trance. Some begin to move forward, while the central figure is cloaked in flowing streams of fluid fabric, holding a fulcrum of silent energy. He moves into the center of the large, riverbed. There is orderliness in the rippling waves of life around him. The blooming, the blossoming, is tender, is unpredictable, is beauty in motion and rhythm. I feel inspired. I feel open. I feel a tingling sensation of life and dance, mirrored in my body and breath.

The river-scape is flowing, ever changing, thinning into an expanse of nothingness. Dropping me into an endless void of peace and tranquility, only to be jolted awake to receive the throb of one thundering heartbeat, multiplying into several. I break open further, the reverberating beats reveal delightful lily pads, crawling with crocodiles, digesting life with ease, rising and ebbing waves of energy, liquid and splashing, making me wet inside out, outside in. I close my eyes, reveling the wetness. The silence, returns. From the dark void, now appears, an indigo-blue being, with a shimmering, ornate, blood moon delicately woven on the back, illumining the dark night ocean. This being is quiet, playful, mysterious, alluring, with silken streams, swirling from the limbs. She dances, He celebrates, He beckons inward, She reveals her scrolls of calligraphic poetry. I listen to their music and movement, as He and She swirl, entwined in the love. For a brief moment, their veil lifts, blinding these eyes by their dazzling, silver skin. I gasp! I return to the sparkling space of magic and wonder, recollecting the poem of a Sufi Mystic, Rumi,  ‘To my eyes, lovers touching are folded wings in a beautiful prayer.’


They arrive. Luminous symbols in their hands, with vibrant, red, woolen tails. The red tails and gold symbols swirl and spin, like dancing leaves twirling down in autumn. A being now appears in sunset orange, quick witted, with a penetrating gaze, glancing at the minutest details, in all those who dare look into those hazy eyes. The rhythms, movements, and swirls, gather momentum with an orange sunrise, as mountain goats and rice fields of the East, meet the wild, dark, mendicants from far away lands. Eastern, delicate sinuous, yellow mountain men, meet the music of the dark skinned, muscled, meat eating, loud men, from the land of the wild beasts and great hunts!

Enters into this, a being, like a dark tornado, with gilded edges. This tornado is steady in its gait, its fierceness tamed, commanding worship. The delicate, mountain men offer their spirals into those darkening, swelling and ebbing edges of the towering tornado, and then disappear back into their homes with humility. With the last man gone, the winds halt unexpectedly, revealing the ugly face of Satan screaming aloud in his Jaguar tongue.


Into the void, is a halting, an unsettling scratching, of the otherworldly sort.

From this emptying, appears a being dressed in virgin white, holding two, ivory conch shells to his mouth. His deep breath enters into the conch, enveloping us with a circular sound, neutralizing the resonance of the Jaguar tongue, and allowing clouds of milk-white light to float down the serpentine river bend. A soft mist of clouds, crackle upon the golden dry riverbed. Moistening it slowly. Allowing tiny beads of dew to unite with others. These droplets quench the thirsty, invisible life, running through the unseen depths of parched riverbeds.

And a brook begins its joyful gurgle ~ ~ ~