Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Anita says...November 2022

 There is value only in those things

that burst forth from inspiration,
Which springs from
the irrational depths of our being
I delight in the barbaric and spontaneous
Elan of inspiration
Effervescent spiritual states,
Essential lyricism and inner tension

- Romanian philosopher EMIL CIORAN

Fresh from the exhilaration of completing 8 shows of THE JUNGLE BOOK in Palo Alto and Houston, I returned with a menu list of injuries... In spite of some fabulous reviews for my role as KAA the serpent in THE JUNGLE BOOK, I felt like a wounded soldier returned from battle. Feet sore, forehead swollen with acetone infection, tired, overweight and listless. Add Vertigo to that list and you can picture me flat on my back for 10 days! I have spent most of October recovering and literally putting my feet up. Sprains, twists, hairline fractures all take time to heal and nothing helps more than REST.

I did manage to see several shows (yes, I hobbled to and fro carefully) - Bharatanatyam only - and realised how much I had missed listening to good Carnatic music and watching Bharatanatyam in the ambience of my Alma Mater- Kalakshetra. This month I will focus on the performances I watched in Chennai and the questions that arose from the varied experiences.

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1 comment:

  1. Divya Devaguptapu1 November 2022 at 12:35

    Thank you Anita akka, for your honest and thoughtful reflections post Ekam and for the many questions you have raised publicly. I thank you not because you have supported me or Ekam, but for your fearless spirit to question and speak up for change. It is not easy being the bad cop, and you continue to do it with grace and elan year after year! Thank you.

    For me, curating Ekam is about curating change in Chennai. Clan and clan-ish behavior has been the cultural DNA of most artists in the city. Most festivals (sabhas – big and small, included) are curated with the following in mind - box office returns, political agendas or for furthering ones “career” prospects or simply about throwing a “huge dance party with friends”! Curation has to go beyond “friends and clans”, it has to be about the art. The city has never liked “outsiders” – and outsiders isn’t limited to those who look different, speak a different language or have surnames other than “krishnan or subramanian”. The city has a keyhole view of art and has never encouraged an out of the box thought process, where an artist wants to be his or her own person. Either you fit into the round shape that Chennai is or if you are any other shape, you make sure you change your shape to be accepted. And this isn’t a Chennai specific issue, this is a human condition world over. In America, it comes through as racism.

    But.. now is the time - the world has to change if humanity has to make progress. We are at the cusp of tremendous possibility and change for the better if we become more inclusive and collaborative in our efforts. Competition is out the door today. You can further your career all you want in the name of competition, yet, if humanity has to find some kind of sanity, then collaboration is the only way. My family moved to Chennai bag baggage only for art (we had NO connection whatsoever with this city) and has been disappointed time and again with the way the city has responded. The city is the undoubted cultural capital of India, but needs to find more inclusivity and acceptance and genuine support for art and not just entertainment in the name of art, if the art has to evolve and flourish meaningfully. And this can happen only if the art fraternity comes together in solidarity.

    Personally, I would hate to move Ekam out of Chennai (although it may and can have editions elsewhere), as Chennai is the soil for Bharatanatyam. What I would like though is for us dancers to come together to collectively create a larger and diverse rasika base for dance and not just the 10-20 invitee dancers in power who show up to concerts. We have to have more general audience creation and awareness efforts and we have to do that collectively. We have to inspire the people and rasikas of Chennai to experience Bharatanatyam simply for the love of it and nothing more. And that is “DANCE FOR DANCE”. Everyone is entitled to their personal favorites, but ultimately it has to be about the art. My Guru Sri V P Dhananjayan taught me to watch every dancer good or bad, and that’s exactly what I did growing up in Chennai. I spent all evenings either at BK or in a sabha, watching the how to and how not to of art. I hope we can inspire and instill this in our next generation too.

    Ekam is only about the art – the formless energy that flows through an artist.