Wednesday 18 June 2014

Article - From Question to Quest: Is the answer within the journey itself? - Shila Mehta

Too many questions can confuse us. On the other hand, one good question may bring about profound change through its call for significant efforts to explore meaning and to find answers. I definitely realize the power of ‘what’ and ‘why’ when a Question becomes a Quest.

Dance has taken me to many places over the years, and most recently, the University of Toronto, Canada. Here I was fortunate to meet and work with a number of dance artists and academicians, each of whom left their mark on challenging my thinking and work as an artist.  Darcey Callison, a choreographer, dance scholar and cultural theorist planted the following seed in my mind that “everything does not have to make sense.” Simple, yet transformational words, pushing me to ask myself… crossing internal boundaries as a choreographer, and to my surprise, utilizing a ‘smart phone’ for the first time to aid artistic endeavor.  Similarly, Carol Anderson, a choreographer and dance writer, observed me during a choreography session. Whilst reflecting on my movements she forced me to think about it from a new direction, which ultimately led to my exploring how to dance from my ‘bones.’ As an Indian classical dancer, I have become so accustomed to the story telling element of Kathak which requires me to emote to express my inner feelings and to communicate rasa to the audience. Carol was essentially challenging me to talk to different parts of the body before creating any movement. The highlight of this process of dancing from the ‘bones’ was actually connecting with bodily elements in a new way that enabled the creation of movements that were strangers to my body-unexplored. I observed how my movements became enriched - extending my movement vocabulary - yet outside of the comfort zone of storytelling. To my surprise, without any narrative in mind, it was as if my body elements were creating their own stories and in doing so providing a burst of fresh energy in dance. 

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