The radiating power of three: Ma3ka 
- Pratima Sagar, Hyderabad 
Photos: Vipul Sangoi

February 28, 2010 
Anita Ratnam delves into the triad energy through dialogue, music and dance... and frames the time, only to let it go...

The images of goddesses melt into a tale of three women through three generations and almost become timeless. Yes, time, seems to be an intriguing part of Anita's thoughts that she playfully and artistically embraces into a triangle. The result, a virtual painting on stage that she brings to life... weaving through emotions, shaping through love and traversing through time... to me, Anita amazes each time!!

Premiered last December at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai, "Ma3ka- Trikona Shakti- the triad supreme" is yet another arty creation by Anita Ratnam in collaboration with her artist friends Hari and Rex. Interestingly, the three artists, geographically living in three distant parts of the globe, have been toiling on the concept for over two years now. In time, the three come together- choreographer Hari, actualizes dancer Anita's concepts, while designer Rex gives it a vibrant colour! And Anita rose on the stage brilliantly blending a tale, that let the audience compassionately put together a plethora of abstract pieces of performance to form a fleeting fable that lives on.

Here is a woman in search. Search for herself from her roots to the shoots... Her grandmother, her mother and her daughter forming the triad energies, with herself in the centre multiplying the mirror images. Anita's heart seems to be in the centre of this triangle like the bindu - emanating energies of all the three angles- symbolized by the tri shakti - Saraswati, Lakshmi, Meenakshi.

The dancer takes you back in time, when her grandmother gently lights an oil lamp or fondly sings a lullaby to her grandchildren. "Warm memories of her rituals... I was her shadow..."

Mother - making way for the liberated modern women, Anita depicts her as a burgeoning energy of inspiration. "Her golden feet walking through our lives, leave behind foot prints of abundance...Leelavati. Bold, brave, ahead of her time. I don't remember my mother carrying me..."

In a novel spirited self, Anita slips into an image of a young, innocent and yet firm and intuitive maiden - Aryambika, her daughter. "...her battle-ready Trishul defends to protect and save... fierce daughter, when you look in the mirror who do you see looking back?"

That's how the dancer melts the iconic Tri Shakti, the three supreme energies of mother goddesses and pours the spirit into the casts of three compelling women within her family. "Ma3ka- the goddess that lives within us all...", says the dancer dedicating it to all Earth mothers past, present and future . Indeed a celebration of innermost emotions of love and feminine flights of imagination! Anita creates a collage to depict the same with her dialogue, dance and mime, amid a stage set with props in all the three directions framing her in the centre. Designer Rex arranges a set of Veenas, which seem to silently quiver with a melody as the dancer clad in white mimetically merges the images of her grandmother with the goddess of wisdom holding the Veena, "Calling on us to awaken in wisdom with the magic of her gentle Veena song."

As these images settle into your minds, the audience gets to witness a story teller entering the stage as though like a Sutradhara or simply intersecting the three acts of Ma3ka. Revathy Sankkaran in her lucid and traditional Harikatha mode plucks a dialogue in Tamil... at once philosophical and also mundane, I wondered at the connection?! Well, it could make sense, for Anita's concept not only traverses across three generations but also depicts the evolution through eras where attitudes grow, styles change and tastes develop.

Rex furthers this when he picks up Anita's granny's and mom's old Kancheevarams to create costumes that symbolically speak of yesteryear fabric with contemporary design sensibilities. Here, Anita emerges clad in lotus red and gold, shimmering like the goddess Lakshmi! The costume design is indeed a blend of the old and the new... rather seems to be in a passing phase, when the dancer brings flashes of herself as a Bharatanatyam dancer and also being a fashionista and media personality in New York.

All the while, a set of tridents posted in a corner of the stage space has been continually drawing my attention. Until Anita clad in a glowing green criss-crossed the tridents as though wandering through a field of magnetic energies! Yes, she did pulsate with Shakti.

Choreographer Hari creatively strung together Anita's autobiographical work in a non- linear story board and yet that seems complete with all the interspersing elements,while music director Anil Srinivasan ingeniously maintains an understated elegance tracing Anita's moods and footsteps!

Random thoughts that kept flashing... moments that refuse to leave... those pools of mirrors in a triangle... Anita celebrates the women in her life, celebrates the woman in herself and bonds all the earth women in a timeless celebration of Ma3ka, the triad supreme.

Pratima Sagar is an artist and cultural commentator based in Hyderabad. She was dance critic for The Hindu for six years, before venturing into publishing. As, founder director of Bhairava Publications, Pratima Sagar has edited, designed and published coffee table books and catalogues based on performing and visual arts, archeology and ancient arts, apart from producing documentary films on tribal and folk arts of India and Africa. Pratima is presently pursuing her doctoral program in 'ethnology of temple sculptors and dancers' from Folk Culture Department of the Central University, Hyderabad.