Monday, September 29, 2008

Regrets!

This last weekend and week was so busy...seriously no time to susu at work or at home...Friday night saw us going for a long walk at the naana-naani park (or better known as Gandhi Park) and then some amazing dinner a la SD-SC-RKRRS's (he is golti that's why so many initials)...and then on Saturday we had to go to this wonderful dance concert that our friend SV had invited us to and was performing in it too...a Kathak and Bharatanatyam performance...

So, why did I like the performance so much that I have to blog about it? Probably because I really enjoy the art of dance and dancing. It would have been my chosen career had I not taken up architecture... and it then makes me regret...a regret that goes long back...when I was 3...

I was about 2 and half years old...and my grandma used to take me to see a Bharatanatyam class in progress every day for an hour...nothing else held my attention as the dance class did...I would stand outside the class watching it spellbound and then would go home and repeat every step ad verbatim...I apparently had enjoyed it a lot...and what is worse? I even remember those evenings clearly in my mind...

When I turned three my Gran thought I was ready for the classes as many of my other classmates were also planning on enrolling and she took me to the Guru with the apt Dakshina (offering for a Guru) and everything...the Guru kindly took the dakshina but refused to teach me dance as he deemed that I was too young...

I clearly remember that evening when he told my Gran that I will not understand the subtle nuances of dance as I was too young...I came home disappointed, dejected, and made a subconscious decision that I hate Bharatanatyam and refused to go to any other teacher after that...everytime my mom tried I would cut classes and showed lack of interest and my mom finally quit trying...

when I was 26...I looked up on Ek Nazar for a Bharatanatyam teacher and found one online and called her...and that's how I met Ranjani...for a year and half we met once a week for classes and practice...we loved each other in a true Guru-Shishya fashion and I felt so nice...I regretted not having done so earlier when I had time at my hand...I remembered my mom...I felt bad...but then better late than never right?

But then Ranjani moved back to Singapore and left me Guru-less again...and now when I tried going back...it was difficult as I have Babs with me...and I only get weekends to spend with her and I don't want to miss out on that too leaving her alone with Girish for three hours...So I have put it on hold till Babs turns 3 so we can start afresh to gether with SV (hopefully)...

Coming back to Nirupama-Ranjendra's performance on Saturday...I was stunned, spellbound and awestruck...What can I say, I am just a novice...but I understood a bit more than others about dance...given I was not trained in Bharatanatyam or any other formal form...but I have danced on stage since I was 10 years old till I was 23...actually at 28 too I did a small Bharatanatyam item (thanks to Ranjani again)...so I can understand dance as an art critic will understand art...not just appreciate the difficulty but read a bit beyond the performance...and theirs was one of the highest quality I have seen in many years now...they had the audience in reverent silence...

If you are reading this from a different city other than Dallas...go and check out their performance in your city as they are on a tour...http://www.abhinavadancecompany.com/pages/company.html...you will not regret it...

I am all the more convinced that I will expose Babs to all forms of dance when she grows up...so that if she is like me, and interested, she can choose from a long list :)

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Personal Observation:

Since this is my blog...I choose to make some observations public...so read it, agree with it or ignore it...

Bharatanatyam is an art form that was perfomed by Devadasis in the temple for the Gods or for great kings or lesser kings...ya...these Devadasi's had another name...they were called Veshya's (is it a coincidence that it sounds like Geisha?) who lived a similar life to what you might have read in the popular book "Memoirs of a Geisha"...the only difference being they are married to god...and hence cannot get married to a human being but can act as concubines for rich people...this was a custom in most of South India and parts of North too...

But around independence time...the Brahmins...the so-called moral-police...banned this practice or custom and reduced these women to the status of prostitutes...their entire group was thrown to shame and were jobless and had no way to fend for themselves as their only form of employment was not banned...most of them did opt to prostituition as a result of joblessness...It was okay for brahmins to have devadasi concubines but somehow wrong for them to exist in the world...they made it impure...

But smartly...the brahmins did not mind adapting their music and dance form as theirs and allow their children to learn it...and suddenly it became a fashion for all brahmin kids to learn and singing and dancing...it was okay for them but not for devadasi's...all dance teachers and students were populated with brahmin kinds only...

For convenience sake they even looked past the fact that MS Subbulakshmi a great carnatic singer was a Devadasi by line of birth (although her dad was a brahmin)...but adored her music...hypocrites aren't we now?

So that is the history of Bharatanatyam...if you ask the affected people...they will agree that it is not a very colorful past...but then history is always written with the hands of a victor...

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I am not against Brahmins (guilty of being married to one) and neither do I have an opinion for or against the devadasi system...but just thought for the uninitiated this will be a good start to do some research...the links I have provided will take you through some good reading.

2 comments:

Trevor Penn said...

That was interesting!

Anu Russell said...

Glad you liked it :)