Song of Surrender

Monday, 13 June 2016

Dance India Asia Pacific - Day 4

By Anjana Anand

8th June 2016

A schedule in a camp like DIAP is misleading because each day evolves in its own way, throwing up unexpected moments which make the camp what it is.

Day 4 was one such day. After the classes in the morning the students met for the lunch cum book reading session. Mohanapriyan Thavarajah – resident teacher and performer at Apsara Arts spoke about his book yet to be published – A Temple of Dance: A dancer’s view of Angkor - based on his experience of working on the Apsara’s production – Angkor Wat in 2014 and his subsequent visits to the temple. Art lovers will enjoy the range of sculptures and the remarkable cultural and religious exchange between the India and Cambodia which will be showcased in his book.

The afternoon lecture demonstration by Lakshmi Vishwanathan on ‘Sancahari Bhavas in Bharatanatyam’ gave the students a glimpse of the the manodharma aspects of abhinaya rarely in practice today. She stressed on the need to absorb the world around to open the imagination to possibilities. The participants were rapt with attention as they saw music and dance coming together as Lakshmi Vishwanathan slipped effortlessly into the role of various nayikas.

Professor C.V Chandrasekhar shared his memories of his days with his mentor Rukmini Devi. A student who was caught between pursuing academics or dance, he said with a laugh “Athai tricked me into becoming a dancer! That was the power of persuasion she had. The picture of a visionary artiste, strict yet warm and loving emerged as he spoke about this legend.

The last event for the evening was a talk organized at the Temple of Fine Arts – one of the oldest institutions teaching dance and music in Singapore. The presentation was ‘Bhakthi Bhava in Dance by Lakshmi Vishwanathan, Bragha bessel and Priyadarsini Govind. It was an evening to remember. Each of the artistes drew the cosy gathering into the world of devotion. It was lovely to see their individual approach and language of abhinaya. They cajoled, praised and laughed at the Lord as they brought out the devotee’s oneness with God. There was plenty of warm humour which broke the stereotyped emotions of bhakti being only painful pleading.

The informal setting and ambience of the venue gave rasikas an experience of the intimacy of enjoying abhinaya much like in the courts and temples centuries ago. The dinner which followed at the Annalakshmi restaurant run by the temple of Fine Arts was a fitting finale after the feast for the eyes.

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