Experimental steps

Classical dance

Experimental steps

The performance by Bilva Raman Gandhi on the Delhi stage in connection with the Madhavi Chatterjee and Sanskriti Art Foundation memorial event has proved that experimentation in dance is not about breaking rules.

 A research scholar at the Sanskriti Foundation, under the discipleship of Guru Leela Samson, she has been associated with Bharatanatyam throughout her life.

As a youngster, Bilva grew up learning the rudiments of dance and music as routinely as going to nursery school or playing with friends. What defined her as distinct even in those years was her conscious love for the activity and her readiness to pursue it alongside studies. Though she may have veered from active dance during her adolescent years, she made a dramatic comeback when mid-career, Bilva was well ensconced as a mid-level executive with a baby in tow.

“The first stirrings of dance as a committed pursuit came in 2001,” says this lissome dancer, whose every gesture seems a natural to the Bharatanatyam work of art. She had been witness to an ‘Ardhanarishwar’ performance by her current guru, Leela Samson, and right there she had made her life-changing decision. Today, as a senior research fellow under her guru, Bilva finds dance “complete at all levels: physical, spiritual and emotional.”

In her own research findings, Bilva has charted a course that takes into account the significance of Bharatanatyam beyond its performance status. While a keen adherent of the form’s tenets, she has found in it ample scope for self-realisation. “What I like about the instructional path laid by my revered guru, Leela akka, is the fact that she believes in expanding the vocabulary of the form while staying within traditional limits. As you borrow, you go deep. While she believes in change, there is nothing undertaken without thought,” she surmises.

Having gathered the right ideals for progress in this sphere, Bilva finds that despite the popular belief that younger entrants find their opportunities narrowing down, her own experiences have been to the contrary. “There is space for everybody within this vast ambit called dance. One must just find what works best for the individual,” she says with confidence.

Working with children is her plan for the future, but at present, Bilva has been concentrating on working on the emotive aspects of her dance to bring about a holistic approach to her performances on stage.

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