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Round
Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
Like an ever spinning wheel

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone

Like a door that keep revolving
In a half forgotten dream

Pictures hanging in a hallway
Like fragments of a song

And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind


- Theme song from the film THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR




The freewheeling lyrics of this 1968 Oscar winning song has been stuck in my head for the past few days. Contrasting images, opposing words, a conundrum that seems endless without a clear denouement.

Despite my smiling face at the top of this editorial, there is NOTHING to smile about.
It has been a bewildering month and a devastating month. This COVID-19/CORONA pandemic that has upturned our lives, dashed our plans and slashed our existence is going to change the way we live and see the world forever. Who knew that a virus from one country, one city could infect and affect so many lives across the planet!

At this time, it seems inappropriate to talk about DANCE. I recognise the thousands and thousands of artistes whose livelihoods have been threatened, whose annual plans have been trashed and who are now scrambling to find alternatives. Amidst the catastrophe of half finished projects, international collaborations and more, I also recognise the many inventive ways via technology that several dance artistes are seeking to continue the practice and teaching of their art. It seems like Armageddon - the doomsday scenario that many ancient seers have spoken about. Amidst the current ruin of canceled shows, tours and what seemed like sure-fire itineraries down the drain, performers are scrambling to simply SURVIVE in the midst of what seems to be a year of ruin.

If only we can hit the RESET button for the year 2020. But it is upon us. The biggest pandemic and the most significant crisis to hit the arts sector. Unemployment and loss of income is the most immediate fall out of this pandemic. But the consequences are far greater. It feels like an acid that is eating away- past the surface of our skin to the very bones and marrow of our creative fires.

So, how can I write about DANCE? What more can I say about the dark mood and depressing landscape that stretches before us.

It is ironic that this month, NARTHAKI.COM enters its 21st year online. We had many plans to mark the ADULTHOOD of my baby - infant - toddler - adolescent - teenager - fully grown adult.
Our small team of Lalitha Venkat, Sumathi and Raksha Patel join me in thanking you all for the confidence, trust and faith that you have placed on our portal and hope we can continue to serve and illuminate the global Indian dance community through our various articles and information that are featured.

In the light of adding new phrases to our vocabulary -
SOCIAL DISTANCING, FLATTEN THE CURVE, VIRAL LOAD, CONTACT TRACING, SELF ISOLATION, FALSE NEGATIVE, HOME QUARANTINE, #WFH (work from home), COVIDIOTS and UNPRODUCING (being used in the arts community).

With the extraordinary circumstances of the moment, we have chosen to share the views of some of our faithful members and close friends across the world. Dancers, choreographers, dance advocates - both performers and supporters. 21 voices. To mark year #21 that NARTHAKI.COM is beginning.

We share below their thoughts and experiences.


#PANDEMIC PONDERINGS

MALLIKA SARABHAI
(Performer/activist, Darpana Academy, Ahmedabad)

It is a strange time. On the day the world went mad and Malaysia became the epicentre of Corona, I was at KL airport on an Air Malaysia flight on my way home from Australia. Since then, it has been times unprecedented. I walk around in a beautiful and empty campus. I work on my book and on a concept for a new show. I look after my dogs. Apart from the tragedies, I relish the silence, the aloneness. And I pray humanity will wake up to our true purpose.

VAIBHAV AREKAR
(Artistic director, Sankhya Dance, Mumbai)

March 2020 began with promises of dance and dance tours, workshops, seminar, Festival SINDHU etc. In the second week most of these engagements had disappeared. The third week saw me locked up in my apartment seesawing between hopelessness and hopefulness. Hah!

It was then that I let my 'body' and 'mind' decide on the plan of action. Both of them led me to laze around and then, I realised the importance of doing 'nothing specific'. In this past week, when my mind finally overcame the sluggishness, I chalked out a small routine of modest exercises cum dance (2-3 hours), cooking, reading and others activities. I have started following this work strategy which will continue for the next 15 days:
1. Observe- simply watch the world outside from my window. Birds, trees, cars, people even silence (most vital)
2. Ideating- penning down any thoughts that come to me for new solo or an ensemble work.
3. Introspection - from where I stand as an artist today to which direction do I want to travel.
Praying, as I stay safe inside my house, the world outside too will be saved.

VICTOR PAULRAJ
(Lighting and sets designer, Studio 7, Chennai)

When the wave hit, I was travelling for work in the United States of America, after having done a show in Canada. All the shows were cancelled and we were sent home, not just abroad but at home too. This brought the whole world to a halt, a true test of time. The artistes can and are practicing their art within their spaces, while we technicians have to just stand and weather this storm for the unforeseeable future.

The impact of this hit deeper for me because I deal with daily wagers such as technical support staff who have no other choice, nor chances. This has given me a chance to rest and reflect on my journey so far. I am reading a lot and researching on the new technologies in lighting and trying to rework some of my past work based on that. I cannot wait for this to be over, as it's going to be a new dawn with fresh ideas and exciting projects all around.

All the things that could potentially stop us from practicing our Art has already happened and we are still standing and will be, when all this dust settles. Let us not settle down within our confinements but rise up together in fraternity and love of the arts.

Dr. GERARD M SAMUEL
(Dance Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa)

A floor barre for my first-year ballet students and an accompanying weekly dance fitness regimen; an uploaded submission of 'greeting cards' of iconic South African contemporary dancers in lieu of an assignment... But wait, how will my students research and undertake these online teaching tasks with unstable Wi-Fi, lack of data and my lapse in memory of their cramped and rowdy living spaces? Where is the ethical dimension in providing to the 'haves' in one of the most unequal societies? What can a compassionate response in the face of the global COVID 19 pandemic be?

The merry month of March which traditionally sees the last of the casual picnics at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, ripening brie and delicate, chilled rosé might not need a 'still dancing in Cape Town' defiance and desire for taming the world rather a time for an even greater stillness - a moment to ask what can we offer to one another as we re-build our communities in dance.
As we prepare to 'flatten the curve' obedient to the presidential 21 days lockdown, I've observed my stocking up - of books and compost. I suppose the study will finally get that minimalism workout, nostalgia creeps in as old photographs tumble out from their secret closets. The garden no doubt will flourish. A brick red bougainvillea and fresh limes already soaking in the unfamiliar attention in these uncertain but coming weeks.

ANANDA SHANKAR JAYANT
(Artistic director, Shankarananda Kalakshetra, Hyderabad)

Pic: G Murali
Dance is my core strength (as opposed to core competency) that is helping me stay positive, happy and centred, even as I endeavor to use this time of solitude, to learn, to unlearn, to grow. We created and shared challenges and creative aids, with #The5PMNamaskar, free offer of our #Natyarambha practice app, and a fun daily activity #CreatePromptly for the larger dance community across the globe, to stay artistically engaged, motivated, and inspired to tap into the power of their passion, and more importantly, to not be drowned in the vortex of negativity swirling around us.

Most of us are accessing new methodologies and technologies, and are recalibrating ourselves, in so many ways, including revisiting other interests, that we always said we had no time for!
Let's meet on the other side, transformed, creative, more empathetic and compassionate! Like the lotus that seeks the Sun from the quagmire that surrounds it, let us too seek the light of life, by choosing the right state of the mind, with the powerful core strength of our dance. With gratitude in our hearts, positivity in our minds and a prayer on our lips, yes, we can do it!

CHITRA SUNDARAM
(Performer, lecturer, London)

A First World College in the time of Covid-19:
The London University College where I teach theatre and performance, lies emptied of staff and students, in complete shutdown. Our library was the last to lock up as we moved to teaching online. I tested delivery options recommended by College and encouraged my worry-sickened and racially-attacked Chinese students to eat properly, seek help, and show up online. All sorted. Then come emails from my colleagues about their wards: significant numbers of students have no computers to write their dissertations on, nor their families the wherewithal to buy them! Their phone is their everything, and for project-writing they went to the library desktops! We had so thoughtlessly shut it down! I look at my desktop, my laptop, my tablet, my two iphones, and then out at this First World scenario, blurry-eyed with tears of anger and shame.

LYNNE FERNANDEZ
(Managing Trustee, Nrityagram, Bangalore)

Pic: Dasha Larina
We are in lockdown mode since 9th March. We cancelled workshops and classes till June, our staff are on paid leave, and students have gone home. The few of us who call Nrityagram home, spend time on the rituals of living - cooking, cleaning, and tending our land. We're inching back to what nourishes us - dance, art, and Nrityagram. With performances cancelled, we are considering ways to sustain Nrityagram so we can continue to teach, create dances and support our community.

Sometimes, I feel I am in a sci-fi horror film with an out-of-control projector. Then I focus on our many blessings - a home to be locked down in, food from our land, rehearsal space, and things I usually don't have time for - playing with my fur babies, working in our food forest, relaxed chats with family and friends. And I am grateful.
I believe this too shall pass. We have to be careful, kind to others and ourselves, and offer our prayers to the Universe - she will take care of us.

RATIKANT MOHAPATRA
(Artistic director, Srjan, Bhubaneswar)

The nouvelle (that which is new) corona virus has hit us very hard and indeed is a new and shattering experience. Nobody is permitted to visit us neither are we allowed to step out of our homes. Never in our lives have we faced such an extraordinary challenge. You will be aware that time, tide and the creative impulse do not wait for anyone. All alone and having to fend for myself - without the support of fellow artistes, dancers, musicians, script writers and other support staff - I decided, in an unsure way, to embark on a new choreograph, mostly within the confines of my mind. Hence I devoted the month of March to the making of "Mrutyu", in which Death is personified as a choreographed character with all attendant dilemmas that life's closure brings. Truly this March has been and continues to be a nouvelle and trying experience!

Dr. NITHYA NAGARAJAN
(Curator, International Market Adviser, South and SE Asia-Australia Council for the Arts, Sydney)

Pic: Leah Jing
As a choreographer and curator, I have had shows cancelled and upcoming work put on hold indefinitely for the rest of the year. But as someone who works on the other side in my everyday job, serving an arts funding body, a bird's eye-view of the devastating impact of COVID-19 across the cultural and creative sector has provided a crystal clear analysis of what the arts are up against - in Australia and internationally. The scale and scope of the impact of this virus, still not at its peak in many countries globally, has been unparalleled - lives lost, evaporating gigs, depleting bank balances and peaking anxieties. At the same time, I have also been heartened by responses of artistes - ever adaptive, digitally savvy, compassionately questioning and self mobilising in these unprecedented times. When we reach the other side, I'm curious about how the imagination of the artiste will interpret the world the rest of us are yet to arrive in. For an artiste is always with, in and of their time.

SHARANYA CHANDRAN
(Vice President, Natya Vriksha, New Delhi)

I am a multi-tasker and divide time between my career as a policy professional, a Bharatanatyam dancer, and a mother. I am using this time which has compelled us to work-from-home and practise social distancing, as an opportunity to pause and re-prioritize, re-orient and reflect. I am now prioritizing certain longer-term tasks on my to-do list such as writing, ideating and conceptualizing productions, which rarely got to the top of my list due to routine tasks, classes, external meetings and emails. Internet has been my saviour to adjust to this new normal. I now do guided yoga through online facilitation. Similarly, we at Natya Vriksha have resumed dance classes by my mother-guru Geeta Chandran through group video-conferencing facilities. While we've started with abhinaya session pilots, we hope to crack online sessions for pure dance soon. I'm also using this time for stimulating my toddler through music, dance, reading and dedicated family bonding time. Wearing colourful clothes at home helps me remain in high spirits!

SNIGDHA VENKATARAMANI
(Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam dancer/teacher, California)

Pic: VJ Clicks
The spring season was going to be an exciting one for me, both professionally and personally. On a personal note, I am awaiting the arrival of a new member of my family. While I was preparing for all this excitement, COVID 19 was declared a pandemic and spread to such an extent the world over that it disrupted work and life as we knew it. The only source of relief was that my mother made it in time for my delivery, exactly a day before the ban on international travel was enforced. There is a reigning anxiety about the world I am bringing my little one into, and the world my innocent 6 year old will be raised in. Will they have clean air to breathe, enough resources to sustain themselves in future? Will nature be kind to our next generation? Or will today’s humankind be thrusting them into a future where dealing with biohazards and catastrophic epidemics becomes routine??

Now whom do we blame for this situation? Our leadership? Bureaucracy? The bourgeoisie mentality? Is it our arrogance - the feeling that we humans are the strongest of species? Have we underestimated the power of nature? The suryashtakams, gangashtakams and navasandhis that we artistes perform are meaningless if we have displayed utter disregard for nature. Creativity and technology will help artistes move on and sustain themselves. But how do we make our art more relevant to the current scenario - apart from merely showcasing our works?
It is time for us to reflect upon these thoughts and to understand how we as citizens of the globe can contribute towards preserving and protecting nature, be environmentally conscious, and co-exist with other creations of nature.

Dr. SWARNAMALYA GANESH
(Director, Rangamandira, Chennai)

MARCHing on
I can wax eloquent about how art heals
But, let me confess, healing is a low hanging fruit
When our wings are clipped and feet are tied
Art is the HOPE for the soul, with feathers to fly!

Sea of migrant workers stacked like matches in rows
Watching the cops make people crawl on their fours
Hungry children eating grass here
While the Malabar civet, peacocks and dolphins come near

There is much in this world that can consistently cause pain
Nothing more gnawing now than my three meals, bed and roof
This month, undated, touching the hands of time, slowing it down
Humanity had it coming, for the treason of crossing the Rubicon

Meanwhile, nothing has changed;
Haters hate with passionate rage
selling fake news, fear and fury from a stage
Reclined on the chair of "empathy" pronouncing judgement;
I wonder, if a mirror might prove them guilty as charged!

Friends: Read and write and cry
Play and pray but don't pry
Sleep and wake, don't scare
For there is HOPE for us still to spare

USHA RK
(Director, JNCC, Moscow)

It was business as usual till on the 8th of March all programs were cancelled and classes suspended. Stay home began for us at the Embassy of India on 13 and 16 March. The first couple of days were spent adjusting to be home and how best to use the time available at hand, alone in Moscow. While there was no curfew or total lockdown in Moscow till March 27, Indian Embassy instructed us to stay home. Russia has today nearly 1000 plus cases and only now they have taken some stern steps.

One task was to keep my Indian staff motivated and engaged, work on a new creative project on Trinity's legacy for dance, creating online classes with our teachers and of course enhancing my culinary skills is what keeps me busy and positive. With daily motivation messages, the important thing was to see that none of the staff gets scared or depressed. But we are strictly following the Stay Home orders. It's a grim time but positive thoughts and energy will see us through.

MYTHILI KUMAR
(Artistic director, Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose, CA)

The first inkling of trouble was seen in the first week of March. Until then, rehearsals for our 40th anniversary planned for April were going exceedingly well, but it was only six weeks away. It took me over a week to come to terms with the seriousness of this escalating Covid-19 crisis. Finally on March 13, I emailed all concerned that we had to cancel the event. Months of planning, meetings with 40+ volunteers, scheduling rehearsals with dancers and musicians, two rounds of bulk mailing, alumnae outreach efforts, and most importantly the artistic work of the choreographers and dancers, all went down the drain. And no clue as to when we may be able to present it in the near future.

Looking at the bright side of things, I've had a stress free 2 weeks with no rehearsals, and no frantic phone calls to the composer or tailor in India! And feeling tech-savvy while setting up and conducting Zoom classes for all our students!

REX
(Performing Arts designer, Canada)

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
That chilling misquoting of The Bhagavad Gita, by Robert Oppenheimer, as he witnessed the annihilation of Hiroshima by his invention - the nuclear bomb - imprisons me in our current Covid-19 crisis.
WHAT A HORRIBLE TIME TO BE A (performing arts) DESIGNER???!!!!
I feel so useless and helpless.
NOT because work has dried up, but, there is so little I can do to silence and stop F#@$ IDIOTS from saying and doing things that just increase, exponentially, the numbers of people condemned and condoned to die, at the mercy of this apocalyptic virus, because these victims have no recourse to alternatives, as they are the 'least' amongst us.
As a person who devoutly subscribes to the BEST IN ALL RELIGIONS, I question my multi-faith precepts with abject sadness.

"Intelligent Design" sucks major ass in the face of "Pure Science".
How can there be any gravitas to the notion of an "intelligent design" when millions of innocent and good people are going to die, while Neanderthals who run the USA, India, China, Brazil and their ilk will survive, thrive AND continue to perpetuate their evil on the rest of us???
WHERE ARE YOU GOD, GODDESS, WHATEVERTHEF#@$HIGHER POWER?????????

ARCHANA RAJA
(Dancer, new bride, California)

When I recently moved to the Bay Area, affectionately dubbed the Mylai of USA, I was filled with nervous excitement. With multiple shows lined up across the US, I was set to hit the ground running. And then COVID-19 struck! It was hard not to spiral with negativity. How can one not miss one's teachers, the 6am morning practices, and the banter among dance sakhis? A loving husband helped but an artiste needs her art foremost. Slowly, but steadily, the art fought back.

Forced to evolve, artistes find ways to thrive. Practices are moving to Zoom, ideation is now on FaceTime, and kutcheris are live-streamed into living rooms - my days are filling up with dance again. And yet, this isolation has made me dwell inwards into my art. I am revisiting past performances - critiquing and evaluating my progress. I am listening to new sounds and watching new dance forms. I am unlearning and re-learning new ways to move. When the world forces you to stay still, one must make the most of this quietude.

D. KESHAVA
(Artistic director, Kalasri, Basel, Switzerland)

The scary March 2020...
To protect the public in Switzerland, the government took the decision of closing all schools and stopping all kinds of public gatherings. To obey the order, we also closed our school. Our planned performances got cancelled. Now I stay at home, live consciously, think positive, use this time for engaging myself with music, dance and Yoga philosophy and preparing for a solo program that reflects on my life story in Switzerland as an artiste. I have started to give online lessons on dance and Yoga which I never wanted to do before.

The daily news in the media makes me very sad. Of course, I do worry a lot more about other people who are facing more difficulties. I wish this cruel pandemic will disappear soon and I pray to god for it. The pleasant breathing keeps you in good health. Sarve bhavantu sukhinaha ... Om Shanti

VIKRAM IYENGAR
(Co-founder, Ranan, Pickle Factory, Kolkata)

March was set aside for reflection and planning for the future - but the future itself is now called into question. It's a stark realisation of what we always knew - how vulnerable the arts sector is, especially in a context with little or no support structures.

Learning to work away from my studio and online is merely an inconvenient change of format. The real learning is to use this time to ask myself the difficult questions: What value do we contribute to society and how, how do we engage our audiences in such circumstances, how do we hold on to the essence of performance in the absence of the live contact that is so integral to it, how can we ensure we do not forget, and are not forgotten?
And vitally to acknowledge that - despite this precariousness - I am privileged. And that comes with a huge responsibility in a country and a world with callous leadership.

HEMA RAJAGOPALAN
(Artistic director, Natya Dance Theatre, Chicago)

As I write this I have come to realize how this world has changed! These past two weeks have been my most tumultuous times in my lifetime. But what is extraordinary and revealing to me is the profound truth that despite the discord, the chaos and social distancing and isolation world over, is the deeply felt universal wish and need to be connected with one another.

For the first time:
I have been having video chats with some friends and extended family socially which I never did before.
Going through memoirs/photos and cherishing those lovely moments for which I never had time.
And as artiste trying to remain active creating and sharing my work through new tools online like Zoom for teaching, Miro for white boarding with others, and have scheduled live streaming of some performances.

SANJUKTA WAGH
(Kathak dancer, Beej, Mumbai)

This has been a time of going inwards for me. A time to un-do and de-clutter, in all senses.
On my return from Japan, March 4th
The world upside down.
The world-premiere of our play
The actors and the spectators
Armed with masks and sanitizers
Make a collective exit to combat the new enemy
Meanwhile Delhi burns
And homes back home become places of dread
Down the winding paths of Kyoto, I float in a dream.
A deep exhalation
As shrines pass me by
Pink sakura clear blue sky

The world upside down.
I embrace my fears with my co actor-spectators around the planet
Being present as some of us take our final bows
Thinking of those without a roof over their heads
Those working overtime
Or lying alone in hospital beds
Those walking for miles to reach home
How helplessly full of hope we are
A deep exhalation
Mother earth heaves a sigh
Pink sakura clear blue sky

The world upside down
Missing mum on her birthday
I begin the rites of spring cleaning
Her daily ritual of care I never had the time for
Old sarees, cobwebs and polythenes
I listen as I dust
And improvise in silence
The afternoon birdsong!
I engage my every pore in the decluttering dance of our dailyness:
Unfolding and folding, holding and letting go
A deep exhalation
Stay then say goodbye
Pink sakura clear blue sky

HARI KRISHNAN
(inDANCE/Wesleyan University, USA)

This OMFGCORONAVIRUS is decimating the world...
We artists should 'postpone' our masochistic, self- indulgence, take off our 'masks' & 'costumes', drop our 'props' & 'stories' and get to work doing REAL, BOOTS ON THE GROUND, BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS activist manifestations of holding, ESPECIALLY, our politicians' feet to the fire, on providing tangible answers to questions such as:
How are a billion people going to practise proper hand hygiene, when they do not have palatable water to drink?
How are millions going to enact social-distancing, when they are homeless to start with?
If one amongst the millions of have-nots should contract the virus, what non-existent health care insurance do they have as a safety net to rely on?

I have at least 36 such dire questions which need urgent answers...
THIS IS HOW MY LIFE HAS CHANGED...
My brain is frozen.
My heart is broken.
My dance is on pause.....
Because, despite everything I am able to contribute, it seems so pointless...
Millions will probably die.
I do not know how to make peace with that...

And from our very own
LALITHA VENKAT
(Content editor, narthaki.com, Chennai)

This is the very first time I have ever seen my area of bustling Mylapore so quiet. It feels almost eerie when I see the empty streets in the middle of the day. The final week of every month is normally so hectic. Sifting through the various articles and submissions, liaising with the web manager Sumathi about visuals and staying up all night editing many rambling submissions has been the routine for 20 years.

The COVID-19 virus has certainly changed my routine. I spend my time cooking and doing household chores, before walking to the supermarket and quietly standing outside with few other Mylaporeans, awaiting my turn to be let inside the shop. Everyone is wearing masks and is surprisingly calm. But there is anxiety, fear and a sense of helplessness. Was this how people felt during war time? When food and supplies were being rationed? This is also a war but against an unseen enemy who does not differentiate between class and geography.
My daughter and family live in Seattle, USA and the statistics emerging from there are alarming. I am constantly worried.

As Content Editor of this popular portal, I realise that the Indian dance world has fallen quiet in one way but is teeming with activity online. Perhaps this will also make us reflect on how dance itself and dance making will have to change and with it, our way of reflecting and reporting.


#SHARDS OF SHATTERED GLASS
"This virus does not care about ethnicity or nationality, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly." The words of UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres rings true.

And yet, when the prospect of serious illness and even the "dark beyond" seems to beckon us, some artistes continue to be mean minded, cynical and downright rotten. The negative comments on social media against other artistes - at a time when we are all trying to keep our spirits up and stay afloat above this morass of bad news - is plain sickening. So for those who want to snarl, diss, snipe and snigger - do this elsewhere. This kind of organised nastiness is not the call of the moment.

As countries around the world recognise the vulnerability of the arts community, we receive news about Germany's massive support for the arts, Canada's generous help for independent artistes, and a call from the leaders of Australia and New Zealand to gather the voices of their respective creative crowd in an online movement called I LOST MY GIG.
More details...
Germany has rolled out a staggering €50 billion aid package for small businesses that boosts artists and galleries-and puts other countries to shame


#HOPE IS THE SLIVER THAT CUTS THROUGH DARKNESS

Abhinaya Selvi

Aniruddha Knight
I cannot end this month without a note of hope. The last performance I watched - IN PERSON - was on March 7th at Chennai's Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan. It was the arangetram of Aniruddha Knight's first student 15 year old ABHINAYA SENTHIL. It was a packed auditorium filled with senior artistes and a foyer drenched with flowers and images of Aniruddha's storied ancestors. Veena Dhanammal, Balasaraswati, Lakshmi Knight, Brinda and Mukta. In the auditorium was Doug Knight, Aniruddha's father, looking pale and weak but a very proud parent.

The performance itself was bolstered by 8 musicians, including a clarinet whose sounds I have not heard in a Bharatanatyam performance for 50 years.
ABHINAYA was a beautifully composed, well trained and confident artiste that evening. Before the iconic DANIKE varnam, Guru Aniruddha spoke loudly through the microphone "DHAIRIYAMA AADU!" - DANCE CONFIDENTLY! And how well she performed. The Balamma style of measured and clear jathis, sancharis and abhinaya contained within each line of the lyric - was both simple and profound. In fact, the entire evening was a reminder to all of us about how much we have lost and the enormous amount of unlearning we have to undergo.

ABHINAYA SENTHIL is a marker for the future. For the possibility of various aesthetics that are available for us to access. That Bharatanatyam continues to inspire and amaze those of us fortunate to have it enter our lives.


# CULTURE - 24/7 FREE ACCESS
During this time of a nationwide lockdown in India, many have sought to return to spirituality, philosophy, faith, reading, learning new skills, cooking and gathering families close. It is a time for renewal. For simplicity and a turning towards the sayings of our wise elders. To renew, reflect and rewind. Or maybe to switch careers and embrace the crisis of change. UH! Maybe not everyone! I see a flood of self promotions and short clips, but whatever keeps the spirits up is absolutely A OKAY!

There is so much FREE CULTURE available online now. Ballet companies, museums, Opera houses, universities have all opened their e-portals for us to engage, learn and grow. YouTube is a treasure trove of golden oldies in music, dance, comedy and so much more to enjoy.

Indian dancers and musicians are already off the starting point, posting numerous videos and online events. Of course, music takes the lead with film songs flooding the cyber waves.

And of course there is the wonder of technology and ZOOM and GOOGLE HANG OUT that is keeping the dance community connected with online classes, talks, lectures and conferences going!


#THE ACT OF REPLENISHING INTERNAL BEAUTY
A special shout out to all those brilliant inventors of creative memes that are keeping us smiling - thank you! We dancers need to laugh more. We are a serious lot. As if we are carrying the conscience of the world on our shoulders!

Quietude, Stillness, Silence seem to be the mantras for the moment
Courage. Empathy. Generosity are the need of the hour.

"When speech shrinks and imagination expands
When language fades and landscape takes over" (Tishani Doshi-writer)

Call up a colleague. Check up on another artiste or your neighbour. Take care of the elders in your lives.

Reading. Learning. Creativity. Kindness. Hope and Sunshine ARE NOT ON LOCKDOWN.

Let us not forget that we are dancers - the most inventive, resilient and determined of the creative lot.

And we don't have to dance every day. We don't have to upload a video every 5 minutes. We don't have to do anything really. Being quiet is possibly the biggest challenge we face. Try it!



Until next month... which feels like the "other side."

.......And
the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space

As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind....


Happy Birthday, NARTHAKI... You have grown and blossomed. All eyes are upon you....
What will you do next???????

- Anita R Ratnam
Enjoying the days and weeks ahead in just one place.
HOME-CHENNAI


Twitter: @aratnam
Blog: THE A LIST / anita-ratnam.blogspot.in
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I am silenced by the beauty of your sharings, my friends and colleagues. Thank you. It is not that I do not have more to add, but to thank you all and Anita for your generosity in sharing. That is how I can participate. So again, thank you from inside.
- Uttara Asha Coorlawala (April 13, 2020)



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