An aesthetic experience

Spiritual Journey

An aesthetic experience

A powerful bharatanatyam recital, ‘Yatra Seeking’, was performed by Malavika Sarukkai at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall recently. It was organised as part of ‘Dance for A Cause’ by All India Movement (AIM) for Seva’, an NGO that works for rural education.

Accompanied by Murali Parthasarathy on vocals, Neela Sukanya on the ‘nattuvangam’, Neellai A Balaji on mridangam and Srilakshmi on the violin, the  dancer presented four sets of stunning choreography conceptualised by her. ‘Yatra Seeking’ described a journey from the materialistic world to a spiritual soul and Malavika interpreted the plot through different concepts.

In the context of music, it traverses from Sanskrit verses in the great tradition of the ‘Srimad Bhagavatam’ to contemporary poetry. Malavika started her recital saying that she believes dance as experiential rather than performative. She led the audience into the space of the ‘sacred’ through her choreography.

Her first piece was, ‘Stithi Gathi’, which literally means stillness and movement. Tuned to Madhuvanthi raga, her performance showcased the relationship between movement and stillness and the importance of these energies which complete each other.

Her next choreography, ‘Raas’, described a tale of transition from the worldly to the spiritual through Lord Krishna’s narratives. She also showed the spiritual through the metaphor of a bird with ‘Bird of Song’ and ended with ‘Laya’.

Before the dance, Malavika said that a dancer gives birth to movement and creates balance and movement through the space the dancer sculpts by working through tension, symmetry and breadth.

Despite the depiction of abstract, erudite and sophisticated concepts, the path to transcendence was shown with grace and intricate steps, which every ‘seeker’ in the audience could relate to. Her dance also brought in room for fresh perspectives.

Her exceptional music ensemble completed the aesthetic experience, from the tumultuous vocals to the lilting violin.

More than a performance, Malavika described dance as one of experience and sure enough, the presentation brought out the ‘sacred’ in the art form and the sacred self that every being strives to achieve.

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