Dancing kathak on stage: Why this has been my biggest high in years!

I am slowly beginning to realize just how traumatic urban living is getting to be. Oh, we would not give up this life easily, those of us who have lived in a city for long. We value our ‘freedom’ just as we bemoan the lack of safety. We love the anonymity, but worry about loneliness. We wonder how long the water will last, just after we’ve taken that refreshing shower!

I am certainly very much the strange urban creature, a powerhouse of contrast and confusion. I notice that we all find our own survival strategies to endure the strange confused nature of our city lives. Social networks have certainly begun to close some gaps for those of us who find it hard to have the energy to keep up with a ‘real’ social life; or we combine the two in some way to remain afloat on the tide of anonymous humanity that surrounds us. But this wasn’t enough for me and I found myself turning towards cultural stimulation to fulfill some of the void inside.

I took up kathak a year and a half ago and entered the world of the classical arts, slowly slipping into it and letting it seep into me. Soon after, I resumed training in Hindustani classical vocal music. My life- work, family, home, friends- all the things that I think and do find anchor in these two weekend time slots-one for dance and another for music.

The weekend gone by, it felt like one branch of me was bearing fruit when my friend Shruti and me performed on stage at Epicentre, Gurgaon. Minutes before the show, standing in the wings, I found myself calm and eager, and completely satisfied. A short while earlier, I had spontaneously touched my guruji’s feet, probably surprising her a bit, but really needing her to put her faith in me. I think the transfer of energy worked some little magic. I told myself that a few months of intense riyaaz and real desire to do well should be enough. And it was!

Shruti and me taking a pose as the alaap starts... photo credit: Nupur

Shruti and me taking a pose as the alaap starts… photo credit: Nupur

After completing our piece, a superbly choreographed Shiv Stuti ‘Damroo har kar baaje…‘ set in Raag Gunakali, Taal Roopak, I felt a level of achievement I do not remember reaching in the past few years through my many other pursuits. This had been a hard, personal battle. A battle to re-prioritize, to push myself, a test of self-confidence, a desire to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a classical dancer….all of that!

Of course, the credit goes largely to our guru Jayashree Acharya, for reposing her faith in us. For not questioning us, but simply taking our decisions for us at a time when we did not know what our own capabilities were. To offer us the experience of preparing a stage-ready dance piece, to learn to dance to live music of high caliber (Shiv Shankar Ray on the tabla, vocals by Anirban Bhattacharya and Pritam Ghoshal on the Sarod), to learn to focus, take criticism and be graceful about it. To be a student of an able guru, a hugely valuable experience. I have written about this before (on my experiences as a student, and as an observer), but in the past year and a half I have been gladly re-acquainted with the best aspects of the guru-shishya parampara, where the relationship between teacher and disciple is a continuously evolving one, bringing in aspects of spirituality, respect, devotion and commitment and moving beyond mere instruction and obedience.

This sort of training has a lot to do with why I feel a greater sense of satisfaction after this performance as compared to the many times I danced on stage through the past few years, as a student with Shiamak Davar’s group. That also involved practise and dedication, a lot of technical training too. But this involved a spiritual awakening that only the classical arts can invoke. It’s something I will remember all my life. Of course, there is much more to learn and it is an endless journey, but I’m grateful and proud to be able to be in this place, at this time…..

Shiv and Pravati pose

Shiv and Parvati pose

In motion...

In motion..

Shiv ki aradhana...

Shiv ki aradhana…

Really enjoying this bit...Shruti and me

Really enjoying this bit…Shruti and me

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Posted on May 21, 2013, in Arts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Upload the video…..

  2. Wonderful….. n lovely pictures too!

  3. Just reading it makes one feel proud of you, that sense of accomplishment comes through beautifully. I wish you lots more success with this. πŸ™‚

  4. You have the guts. Only one year training and on stage? Great.

  5. beautiful pics. ur such a talented artist and is there ne link coz would love to watch u perform:)

  6. Congrats Mukta!

  7. Beautiful! I am very happy for you Mukta and I think understand what you are saying. Wish I knew and had come tot he performance. You look so hppy and graceful in the pictures. Jayshree mentioned she had a show on that day but I had no clue it was u on stage Mukta…next time let me please know in time.

  8. Well done, and yes,you really look very happy on stage.
    Must see more pictures.

  9. There is no greater happiness than a performance with a Guru’s blessings and the confidence he/she has in you. Congratulations, Meera πŸ™‚

  10. Thats a great way to get back to what you love. Can see the joyous look in the expressions!! Wonderful going…

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