mobil pics 832                           Musings on Dance

Dance is self reflection…

As a mirror to my innermost being, it makes me aware and conscious of who i really am.

Being an artist is a risk….

It is the risk of the unknown, to learn something new, we need to unlearn old patterns which limit us

To dance is to share…

To share the deepest part of me is to have an authentic connection with my audience

To dance is pure joy…

To be in the present moment, not withholding oneself back, dance there’s no tomorrow….

My beautiful grandmother:

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As i was aligning my treasured collection of books this morning, i stumbled upon this charming vintage picture of my Aji. Graceful, refined, sublime are mere adjectives, which i feel do not do justice to her timeless appeal. The memory my mind immediately conjures up is that of her shapely hand gripping mine and gradually tracing each alphabet, like a calligraphy artist. She taught me the art of letter writing and we spent many summers writing long letters to family and friends. She bought beauty and grace even to the most mundane daily tasks. Raised by the royal family of Jamkhandi, who lived in Kolhapur, she lived a privileged life, which in a way prepared her for her future as an army officers wife. She blended in that life like a heady mix of cocktail, intoxicated by its endless soirees, mahjong afternoons and a game of tennis in the evenings..

Coming from a progressive family, she was the first woman graduate in the mid 30’s, spoke three languages and wrote passionately. Having blessed with an eye and a love for the arts, she passed on this passion of hers to me and ensured i was trained in dance and music. Some of the cherished remnants of her beautiful life were passed on to me. Her silver filigree comb and hairbrush takes me back to the past..through the sands of time, to a land of grandeur and splendor.

As a child i enjoyed listening to her endless stories and admiring her vast collection of B&W photographs and strutting in front of the mirror in her high gold heels. While delicate chiffons with splashes of hot pink and sunset oranges bathed her body, the milky white pearls accentuated her porcelain complexion, making her look every inch the princess i thought she was. It was she who taught me to value discipline and integrity above all and to always nurture my creative spirit. Though paralysed, she lived to a ripe age of 90 and showed exceptional will power to keep learning and to pursue a mentally active life. Every performance of mine dear Aji is dedicated to you and i know you will always continue to inspire me and keep my inner lamp burning bright..

Ancient sounds, youthful music

And her sitar led the way, taking the listener through the journey of various sounds and textures, embellishing this musical story like a skilled raconteur. Great masters have often reiterated that ancient music, music of our masters never dies, it lives within us creating and recreating itself, thus making it even more relevant, its pure organic sounds reverberating in the air. One could feel this intense connect of collective experiences, making the listener feel there’s something happening there. Modern and ancient sounds were communicating with one another, giving this canvas a rich complexity of meaning. The sitar as a narrator keeps coming back through out the album and creates that dialogue which is deeply haunting yet restrained, leaving much to the listeners imagination.

   I can still feel the echo of the melodious sitar, the resonant mridangam, the weighty and warm cello, the hang(newly created percussion instrument) and the golden barritone voice of its African singers. To my ears this consonance of music had preserved its traditional classicism and yet was youthfully energetic. After travelling half the world, i feel through this diverse musical canvas we share a lot of histories, and that ancient masters created music that bridged and healed us,  touched our souls and we are after all, a product of each others lives and experiences. 

Reflections…

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Its a beautiful feeling to be on stage. The seemingly endless hours of practice, aching feet, coordinating footwork with the tabla, listening attentively and tunning in with all the musicians and not to forget a few butterflies in the stomach…somehow the mind forgets all the dissonance and an organic wholeness and a union with my dance is all that matters on stage. This stage transforms into a blank canvas for me to dance in my colours. As i dance to the vandana, i am invoking the gods in heaven, the earth under my feet and the vast endless space all around me.

I look at the audience, but i dont really see anyone. i visualize a beautiful, sublimely Ganesh and i surrender myself in prayer. My inner light guides me and is my most trustworthy compass on this mystical journey. I can hear my teacher singing the thumri, thaat and the todas.  From her i have learnt to dance only for myself. To dance like there is no tomorrow and today is a sacred precious gift, to be savored and lived with zest. The gentle swirl of my ghagara, my feet dancing to the intricate beats of the tabla and my very being starts unfolding to this divine music.. dance is indeed a meditation, with my guru guiding me to its very core. Have i become the dance or has the dance become me !!

The melodious tinkling of ankle bells..

a collective gasp…. sweet tears..

a prayer is answered…. yet again

There is no journey without home…

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A  journey for me is something indeed very special.. For a few cherished days, I am an adventurer, a voyager, a romantic, set out to amass as many visual, sensory, spiritual experiences as i could in my little sac of life.  And yes, later,  this cauldron of wisdom, sensations and experiences  would suffice me, guide me into being  a more conscious soul, by  becoming a compass for the days i feel lost , blue or simply adrift. It is magical to explore a place with all my senses, my eyes, ears, skin, taste, smell..looking for yet another moment of serendipity around the block.

And lo and behold the joy of discovering something as simple as myraid coloured, tender summer blooms, being acutely sensitive to the magnificient art of the old masters, along with the colourful grafitti of street artists, tasting the local cuisines in cozy intimate cafes. One of my favourite activities is people watching and meandering like a nomad under the canopy of stars and witnessing some fine, innovative and edgy local bands..Soaking in some great music in the chilly evenings with a hot cuppa:)

Journeys often do that to us..give us vigour, sparkle, change our( or lack of ) perception of the world, makes us discover who we really are, appreciate the greatness of all cultures and even recognise how inconsequential and trivial our disputes can be and how unworthy mankind is of this beautiful planet that owes us practically nothing.

Travel does make us spend quality time with our kin ( or for some familiarity also breeds contempt ) and helps us rediscover the many joys we shared, to relive them fully again. To walk , on the road less travelled..initiates us on a journey without a destination…

Everytime I travel, I feel a deep sense of gratitude, I come back with a stronger and a profound  feeling of belonging, ever greatful for this window of wonder that life has offered  me..

and hence, there really can be no journey without home….

The elegance of the Hedgehog

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This exquisite book by Muriel Barbery, begins with Rene, a concierge who is short, plump and ugly. If that sounds a bit too banal, then the exhilarating part is that her mind is the antithesis of her body: brilliant, acute, discerning, enlightened and her heart, aching for a more organic, genial relationship with the universe.

In this humdrum existence, enters the wide-eyed twelve year old Paloma. Precocious but delightful, a deeply observant and an exceptionally intelligent child, who has decided to envision the greatest number of profound thoughts and formulate each one of them into a haiku or a tanka. One such tanka goes like this:

The strong ones

Among humans

Do nothing

They talk

And talk again

And thus begins their profound journey, a relentless search for beauty and the meaning of life. Beauty that is ephemereal, transient and yet, and a sublime level, it is an initiation to the way of consonance. Beauty is when everything is in perfect harmony, when one feels inspired by the greatness of small things. This luminous philosophy of the east  made a deep impression on both Rene and Paloma and is evident in their love of the tea ritual; its repitition of gestures and accesion to simple and refined sensations. Tea, says Rene, has the extraordinary virtue of introducing in our lives, moments of serene harmony.

Rene’s ruminations on language, her contemplation on the elevation of mankind and the profound thoughts of Paloma are interspersed at the most fortuitous juncture.

“Pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language” and “pleasure without desire,existence without duration, beauty without will”, are some of the rare jewels which are timeless and have to be experienced intensively, for they rescue us from the boredom of everyday life and from human longing.

This novel speaks to us like a journal and one can feel the intimacy between the reader and its characters. If anything, this book is about searching for those moments of always within never