City of Blinding Lights

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When people talk about art, the first things that come to my mind are paintings, sculptures or frescoes. No one ever talks about other forms of art like dancing or theatre. Especially in the Indian society, this is seen more as a hobby or something to do along with your daily job. Its not considered something you can make a living out of. Yet, India is considered as one of the hubs of ancient culture. A culture that is now slowly dying thanks to not only the “cultural groupism” that is so prevalent in India but also the habit we have of pulling each other down.

On the 17th of October 2016, I had the great honour and privilege to become a part of an ancient legacy of Art and Artists. Under the tutelage of Dr. Yamini Krishnamurti, the Maestro of Indian Classical dance, I have not only come to learn an ancient dance form, but love it for the sheer power it exudes. Written by Lord Kubera, the Bharatnatyam style of dance has, in my humble opinion, been best showcased on this mortal realm by my Guru. There is perhaps nothing I can say in praise of this Goddess, which has not already been said. But to be associated with her is a life fulfilled.

Besides my Guru, I was also privileged to be in the presence of noted personalities such as Smt. Geeta Chandran, Mrs. Uma Vasudev and of course my parents. We often undermine the role of educators in our life. But what we don’t realize is the impact that their thoughts have had towards shaping a child’s personality. One such educator is Mrs. Abha Adams, who also graced me with her presence. It is her vision that has shaped the life of more than two thousand students and counting, a visionary in the true sense. It is her vision that helped me think beyond the traditional borders that mar our Indian society. My parents have often told me, “Your Guru and Mrs. Adams have brought you up”. And truly, their teachings are indispensable.

It’s my lot in life to be surrounded by strong, beautiful, independent women. Seeing all these illustrious people that day come together, humbles me. But yet at the same time, let us not undermine the power of “the purush”. After all, the greatest dancer is Lord Nataraja. It is only recently, that I have come to realize the raw strength my father has given me throughout my life. Words cannot express my gratitude to the two pillars I call my parents. I am blessed.

The past sixteen years have been a whirlwind of emotions, but more so recently. Dance is a deeply emotional form of expressing oneself. It is poetry set in motion. It is the soul laid bare for all to see. Perhaps this is why dancers are such emotional creatures, but also the most fierce. We stand there under the spot light all decked up with a smile on our face while our critics lounge in the audience quill at the ready to strip us of our courage and passion. These self-proclaimed critics have done little work themselves, with less than mediocre knowledge of the language in which they write; their words and style of writing not only shows their boorish upbringing but also their pathetic attempts to sway people into believing their fiendish, baseless opinions.

I am but a novice in this world of dance, but it is with my child like hope that I pray to the upcoming names in the world of dance – don’t fall prey to things which belong in the corporate world. There’s a reason you are called Gurus and not teachers or professors. Imbibe the full meaning of that word and be what you were truly meant to be. In this city of blinding lights, lets not lose sight of our culture.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

Great dancers are great not because of their technique, but because of their passion”.

– Martha Graham

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