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Kasavu in Cambridge

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

Last night I attended the annual NACHMO (National Choreography Month) performances at the Dance Complex. Every year dance artists all over the US (and apparently also in Australia!) take up the challenge to choreograph a new dance in the month of January and present it on stage. I went to witness this challenge in action, and to support a friend: Sapna Govindan in her Mohiniattam expression (along with her teacher Anisha Rajesh) of the famous Purvi Thillana composed by T.Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. Once again I was reminded of the musical appeal of this timeless composition, its fresh invocation of the rising sun and its notes simulating a gurgling brook. Classics remain classic.

Modern dancers Hassain Booth and Nora Buonagurio's respective solos etched their impact in my memory long after I left the event. I was reassured of the power of the solo dancer on stage equipped with tenacious technique and poetic prowess. It was clear that there is no substitute for passion and to giving of oneself TOTALLY to the art. No exceptions accepted. Dance is a Demanding Goddess and her altar is ever hungry.

The night also left me questioning:

How does Indian classical dance negotiate its space in a rapidly diversifying country? If the 'Indian-ness' of a given dance serves to satisfy the need of a culturally diverse stage, how do we keep alive Rasa (aesthetic savoring) and Sahridaya (empathy in the initiated spectator) that form the bedrock of classical dance in hyper-truncated performances? AND resist the temptation to relegate our dancing to the purely āngika (physical)?

Such questions emerge and fade; only the daily grind of dancing liberates.

Samvād members show up in solidarity for Sapna's performance at 'NACHMO' event at the Dance Complex in Cambridge, MA

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