Why do we dance? And why do people suspend their lives for a couple of hours to watch?
Performing arts seem to exist in a world of their own, with their own rules and rigorous demands. What other field has a saying like ‘The show must go on’?
I think the joy of a performance is that it feels like a huge secret that the artistes share. A secret is special. It creates oneness, like being part of an inside joke. What unfolds on stage is just a tiny part of everything that goes into a performance – hours of rehearsal, chatter and choreography; rising tempers, annoyance and laughter; work, play and food; balancing family, professional lives and dance.
Where we perform is often secondary, for me. What I, as an individual dancer, “get to do” is also secondary. It’s dancing together that unfailingly gives me a high.
Knowing another dancer so well that I can predict what she will do … Understanding that a performance can never be a competition … Knowing when things threaten to fall apart, for whatever reason, and realising that I need to think on my feet to save the show … Knowing that I’m part of something bigger than myself … I need to stay in my circle, my space, my line, for if I leave it, I ruin the show for everyone.
The alertness, the sense of union with other dancers, the joy of being part of something truly lovely – that’s what creates a rush of adrenaline and leaves me wanting more after each show.
This Sunday, we will be performing at Ranjangana Sabhangana at Sri Krishna Math in Udupi. Through the performance, we will celebrate the life of Lord Krishna. Much of the music makes my hair stand on end because it is so soulful. The performance will give the audience glimpses of Krishna’s life. What penance did you do, Yashoda, for a child as lovely as Krishna to call you ‘Amma’?
From Udupi, we will travel to Chitrapur for two more performances, both of which honour the cosmic dancer, Lord Shiva.
Shiva, the god of dance, performed the Ananda Tandava, the dance of bliss. He is anantarupam – the one with neither beginning nor end. When the ocean was churned to procure nectar that would make the gods immortal, venom rose from the waters. It was Shiva who drank the poison and became Nilakantha. Shiva, the mysterious and powerful ascetic, is a god full of stories.
And how can we celebrate Shiva alone, when he is ardhanaareeshwara – half man and half woman? The all-powerful goddess is the compassionate one, the granter of wishes, the destroyer of the demon Mahishasur.
Three performances in two days. We’re all excited!