MAD and DIVINE women - Mystic saint poets of India and beyond
Natya Darshan Seminar -
Evening Performances

Day 1: To be mad and divine...
- Pratima Sagar
Photos: Lalitha Venkat
Dec 23, 2011

Here were dancers three, who almost embodied their chosen poets and danced to tell…Narthaki Nataraj in ‘Sutta Pazham,’ Madhu Nataraj in ‘Nirvaya- Dissolving in divinity’ and Malavika Sarukkai in ‘Maname Brindavaname’... the titles say it all!

Drunk in divinity

Malavika Sarukkai saw the devout audience giving a standing ovation to her signature performance of the evening! For she took them into the world of Andal in a trance like dance. Flowers as a metaphor for her blossoming love, and drawing mandalas on the floor symbolizing the fiery disc that Vishnu sports, or the thousand elephants that Andal pictures in her dreams, and more… Malavika comes into being in a frenzied dance and yet tenderly paints the colours of poetry that find salvation in thy heart itself, of unfurling lotuses - brindavanam within! The emotive songs sung by Vasudha, combined by poetic trans-creations of Priya Sarukkai Chabria completed the seasoned dancer’s performance of the season.

Creating spiritual space

Madhu Nataraj chooses to dissolve into the poetry of 3 lesser known women mystics - Lingamma, Muktayakka and Molige Mahadevi. The danseuse transforms the stage space into an atmospheric presentation with audio visuals, music, and a dance, so grand, while she herself chooses to be clad in light cottons emblematical of those liberated poets of 12th century who philosophized the monistic Shaivism and simplicity of life. Interestingly Madhu connects her `present’, surrounded by cacophony and crowds with visuals merging into her, and how she emerges out to seek the sacred energies of the triad to create that outer and inner space.  Ramya Reddy’s photo art gave a layered presentation to Madhu’s seamless Kathak swirls and stances.

Of Madhura Bhakti
Narthaki Nataraj religiously choreographs a series of poetic compositions of Avvayars belonging to different times, and yet whose compositions were strung with similar cord of devotion and a possessed love. With sanchari bhavas or dramatized narratives, Narthaki neatly presented hitherto untold stories of divine mad- nesses! 

Pratima Sagar is a cultural commentator and critic based in Hyderabad.