Monday, March 30, 2015

Rumi Within 

Sometimes for an artiste, the elephant like artistic stirring within, with its stunning force of realization, gives way to a gentler stirring that feels like the Rumi within.  Rumi, the famous poet of the 13th c, found poetry within and a oneness with the universe, on a series of events in life. Each of us has a Rumi within, and a Rumi-ness that flowers with age, and enjoys a deep, moving, creative space within. Quite like the Bhakti poetry of India in the 12th.c, this inner space finds an experience of one's soul and an altered state of time.

When this manifests in the outer world it takes the form of a beautiful poem of Rumi, or a starry night painting of Van Gogh or a moving Odissi dance by a Guru like Guru Surendra Nath Jena. These jewel like works of art we enjoy, are simply the tip of the iceberg. The mountain of jewels lies within the heart of the artiste, whose inner state of being is resplendent and fiercely glowing.

This 'tejas', spark of being is beautiful, as oneness with the entire universe seeps in. Can one be fiercely illuminated yet flowing in the river of life with the entire cosmos? The answer is in the heart of every artiste, and the artiste in the heart of every person.

As I understand the Rumi within, and enjoy my Rumi-ness, I look back at moments in Turkey few years back. When in Capadoccia, I went to experience the dance of the whirling    dervishes, their mystical dance called the 'sama'. It is the sufi way of experiencing mystical union with the universe through sound and movement. The images seem to sing and dance of the Rumi within us all...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Floral Notes

Flowers are secret messengers of nature. Even the most busy bees halt for a moment to feel their beauty: the richness of their colours, the lingering fragrance and the moods they evoke. 

The malaya sameere (gentle breeze) of vasant ritu brings the fragrance of spring flowers.
For the sahridaya individual, the flowers seem to sing songs, that make us enjoy all of nature, the leaves, trees, grass and the wind in a fleeting moment and space. These beautiful quicksilver-like moments are precious, arrive from the middle of nowhere, and drench us in oneness with the universe. It only takes a beautiful flower to hold our wrists and gently make us play with nature.

Then there are lovely floral notes in Odissi that create a kaleidoscopic world of associations. Floral shapes in mudras, the dancer’s silver jewellery shaped like flowers, the shola flower buds in the Odissi dancer’s head dress – all present the floweriness of Odissi.

The Odissi bindi is also shaped like a beautiful, big, blossoming flower. It has a big red circular bindi in the middle with little white dots around it. On the forehead of any child or woman, this unique flower blossom makes her look radiant.

In many Odissi abhinaya, Radha is swayed by flowers : fragrant mango tree blossoms whose fragrance remind her of Krishna waiting in the mango orchard by the banks of Yamuna river.  The flowers of these dance moments seem to add fragrance to many such moments, and one’s Radha-ness is enriched forever.

The dancer offers many flowers of devotion (shraddha-suman) to her aaradhya : the lotus-eyed Vishnu or Shiva, the lord white as jasmine. Radha is also compared by her sakhi to a blooming lotus, beautiful both from outside and within. There seems to be a flower in the heart of every dance, for nature’s every colour, setting and mood.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Mad elephant and Me - conversations

All art feels a deep connection with the self. It is not simply a skill or an art form, but the experience of one's being. The heights one travels within, the life of a movement, it's vital breath, the pulse of life.

Is this vitality of being Art? A recognition of the raging elephant with the lotus in his trunk.
The soul feels like a mad elephant within the body's cage, lusts to life outside, yet more aware of it's being. Sometimes an artiste loses touch with this being within. The elephant's sounds are drowned in the drone of daily life.

In a second of release, a life-altering moment, the elephant escapes and tramples all the vegetation around. "I look at its sheer size and force and wonder, how come I never saw it before? Yet now I remember, the faint sounds I heard and ignored, the vibrations within, that I turned into movements in dance. This mad elephant rages now and takes over the world, my being, within and without. I see it's skin, tusks, trunks and feet, it's beautiful grey and rough skin, how warm and real it feels. So beautiful, he reminds me of the elephant who was a devotee of Vishnu, possessed yet serene.

The elephant is me, the life of my life, the stirrings within. The discovery of myself. Why am I an artiste? Because I guess I am. I exist. I pulsate with the universe to dissolve like the waxing, waning moon.

The mad elephant has seen its reflection, it's insane with joy, it was waiting for that point of release. Within one moment, it found itself forever and ever."

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Dancing Saree

The saree is a beautiful feeling wrapped up as a garment on our being.

It completes me in a way that art does. Art is not just as a form of expression, but an experience of completeness. As one long stretch of six yards, the saree is one whole being.

Not cut into bits and parts, we wear it whole as a dance costume. Instead of a stitched costume, we tie it beautifully around the dancing body. The blossoming drape of the saree, flows with the curves in odissi and it's joyous rhythm. In the manner  of tying the saree costume between the legs, it reveals the shape of the negative space between the legs, as beautiful as the entire form of the dancing pose.

Before one knows it, the saree seeps into one's life. The heart wants to wear the saree as an inseparable part of one's daily life, feeling the intense love and comfort the body feels for it. It is as if the body fell in love with the saree, and the heart rejoices in its feeling of oneness when together.

Saree and Me

Silly saree days,
they wrap me up,
in giddying fabric,
and giggly borders.

Tracing my contours,
the borders travel,
across the length and breadth of me,
a journey into the center of my earth.

A frangipani center,
white and yellow inside,
ripe in abundance,
melting with its fragrance.

My saree is upto tricks,
it chats with my bindi,
together with the bangles,
I know not what they plan.

As colours melt into sound,
as a tinkle becomes a line,
patterns swirl around,
to drown the depths of me.

Is it the festive season,
or the festive heart,
or just the tuberose's fragrance,
that wraps me up in silly saree days...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Shared spaces

Dance has been a continuous process of sharing for me. Sharing an art form, yet more so sharing energies, spaces, a spiritual tool and moments of divinity. Dance also mirrors life, the oneness and sharing we feel with nature, trees, flowers..understanding that we are one with the sounds and shapes of nature. In odissi rhythms and curvilinear form, I find the unity with the rhythms of the universe, the silence of pauses and the sharing of so many colours and moods. Dance echoes life and reminds us that there are pauses between movement, music between the notes and life and art flow together powerfully through us.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sakhi  Re...

As a classical dancer, I learnt in many an abhinaya about the sakhi. Playing this role in a dance, I would mediate between Radha and Krishna, understanding the heart of Radha always. On an earthly plane, sakhi-bhaav comes naturally to women, who bond so passionately even as little girls!
On a deeper note, It is only after a certain age of maturity I realised that the Sakhi is none other than one's inner dialogue. She is our inner voice taking us to our spiritual source, merging with the divine.
In one such moment, this sakhi- poem came about from the sakhi within:

The rainbow lane,
has many neighbours,
some well noticed,
some not so much.

I thought I knew,
their whereabouts,
names and addresses,
but not so much.

This lane in the heart,
brings many a surprise,
some feelings
like a beautiful woman.

This one,
she takes me by surprise,
I gaze wondering,
Who are you dear?

An intimate surprise,
can that be?
these lanes of the heart
sing many surprises these days.

My new sakhi,
pulls my arm
my eyes ask questions,
a universe of questions.

Don't ask me questions,
because answers drown,
these answers are poems,
hymns for the drowning.

The sun shines bright,
And the moon comes along,
Drowning the days and nights,
how is it that I never saw it before?

The waves of the moon,
bring life for the drowning ,
for sakhis know,
how we are all poems that sing in the night.