Malavika Sarukkai is not a fan of reality dance shows

Malavika Sarukkai says mythological stories are a challenge when replicated through dance.

Malavika Sarukkai, hailing from Tamil Nadu, is a Bharathanatyam dancer and choreographer with almost 45 years of experience. Malavika performed her new choreography ‘Bhagavad Gita’, on September 23 at National Gallery of Modern Art, hosted by Mahua Art Foundation. Metrolife caught up with Sarukkai as she spoke about her dance journey.

What is dancing to you?

Dance defines my life. Over the years, dance has introduced me to different dimensions of life. Having ideas is easy, but turning them into the language of dance is a difficult task; it requires strong fundamentals. I have learned over the years that one should be willing to take many risks to reach greater heights.

Tell us about your new choreography, ‘Bhagavad Gita’.

‘Bhagavad Gita’ explores the cycle of time. The backdrop is the battlefield of Kurukshetra and the existential dilemma of Arjuna. The dance narrative explores the transformation of Arjuna consequent to his dialogue with Krishna. Classical Indian dance is not just about illustrating. The purpose is to experience it. Bhagavad Gita is a great piece. Mythological works like these are out of the comfort zone, and when it comes to dancing, it is indeed a challenge to get it right.

How do you choreograph a piece? How do you decide on the theme?

I spend a lot of time working on a piece. Classical dance, to me, is not entertainment. It’s a deeper purpose. I look everywhere for inspiration. If I find a story in anything, I take it up and illustrate it through dance.I recently read about ‘Saalumarada Thimmakka’ and saw a concept come to light, and I instantly wanted to do a story on her.

My work ‘Thari - The Loom,’ was inspired by the hand-woven, unstitched garment. It was a dedication to Indian craftsmanship. It described the traditional Korvai sari from Kanjeevaram. I took a year to research on the same.

How has your dance journey been? Did you face any struggles?

I started learning dance and music at the age of 7. But I was more inclined towards dance and told my mother that. She gave me the confidence I needed. She stood by me and encouraged me. If it was not for her, I would not be where I am today. I have had my share of bad days; there were times when I was financially weak with no place to rehearse. The one thing that kept me going was my mother’s support.

What is your stand on reality shows? Do you think they actually help in bringing out talent?

I am not a fan of reality shows. There’s nothing real about it. People are just competitive all the time. Yes, committed dancers have to be promoted. But excellence can’t be instilled by anyone. You have to do it because of your passion; winning and losing should never be a part of life.

What is your advice for young aspiring dancers?

Dance is about exploring the deepest part of you. If you are a seeker, you will find it. It is never about playing safe. If you take the long scenic route, you are bound to succeed. It is a rough path, but the success which awaits you on the other side is worth it.
 

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Malavika Sarukkai is not a fan of reality dance shows

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