(Imported from my old weblog, January 26, 2004)
WARNING: A longish mail follows. If you're busy save it for later perusal.
Today, four of us, along with others had been to Nrityagram. Initially, I
was rather doubtful about the justifiability of this trip in the face of
the overall progress report of the team, which seems a little below the
safety mark. Perhaps, being around with everybody would have been good.
But now I feel that I have something better to share with you. A
few words about the experience that we had there, and a mental picture
that we have
carried back from there. It's a beautiful picture. Like a rangoli drawn on
water. Some of you may have found me and Prodyut slightly pensive, laid
back, serious, depressed etc. this evening. Perhaps, it's the tiredness of
the day. But
more than that, it was that beautiful picture drawn on water which we were
gazing at, were trying to preserve, until gloating over it registered it
permanently to the memory. And registered, it had got; for never will we
forget this day.
I won't describe the physical beauty of the place, since there's
no dearth of it in our current surroundings. I will try to relate a few
bits of what I can remember out of our conversation there with the
artists, immediately after the rehearsals and during the lunch.
We all are artists:
We all are artists in many ways. The apparent is obvious. We all
sing, dance, play instruments. But we are artists in a not-so-obvious way.
We all are artists because we love what we do. The realisation, if it
wasn't there in any of us, comes from one of the artists there.
When we sat there listening to her, feeling humbled after having
seen her so closely while she rehearsed, she told this, 'I feel you work
far more harder than we do. For me, it's unimaginable. You too are artists
in my view.' Perhaps she told it sincerely. Or perhaps, she didn't find so
much satisfaction in some of us, and wanted to make us feel good about
our occupation! But I felt the truth in it deep down in my heart.
The relation between the artist and the audience:
One more revelation was about the expectations from a good
audience. She said, 'When I dance in front of an audience, I make myself
very vulnerable to them. They can kill me if they want.' She revealed
about one of the bad experiences she had in IISc. 'I felt like a
prostitute after the performance.' The audience matters so much to the
artist, and like this. A lady who appeared like a goddess to her present
audience, had been degraded to feeling like a fallen woman!
What is it that she expects from the audience. I thought about
when you share something close to your heart to somebody. You expose
yourself (like I am perhaps doing now). Something you value, something you
tenderly love : the sight of a pink flower among lush green foliage, a
jingle of a far-off bell, a beloved person, an experience. When you share
it with somebody, your expectation is to see a part of that love growing
listener. When two person's object of love is the same, they also love
each other. That's how the relation is built. That's how love grows.
But at that moment it's very easy for your listener to hurt you.
He or she can just profane your emotions. And you see your love being
hurt. The seed of love that you'd planted, the seed which you wanted to
see growing into a tree, gets trampled cruelly. You see your love, the
offspring of your emotions, getting cruelly murdered. And there is nothing
more painful than that. That's exactly in contrast to what you do it for.
When your performance plants the seed of your love in some other heart,
you see your love growing in another self. You see yourself growing.
Their's nothing more euphoric than that. Perhaps that's what she named
'Spiritual orgasm!' :)
For her, her dance is the perfect way of expressing herself. And
in expressing oneself, lies the greatest pleasure of life, and the biggest
danger too. 'For me dancing is how I reach out to my higher self.' And
she wants it to be for her audience too. As the dancer or as an audience,
one can experience the same : The rising of the self. Half of this
lies with the audience. They can as well look at it as a mere performance
of an artist, or may be something really vulgar. Or they can honour it by
making a way of spiritual upliftment for themselves as well as for the
They are involved in conducting weekend dance courses for children from
the surrounding villages. On being asked how many of them would really end
up becoming dancers, one of them said that very few, in fact. Then she
said a beautiful thing: 'They are all living hard lives. They are afraid.
Inconfident. They have learnt to bear pain silently. If their father comes
back home everyday heavily drunk, she has learnt not even to cry of fear
and disgust. If at the end of a year, she discovers so much of the
pleasure of expressing oneself that she can actually cry out when she
feels pain on seeing her drunken father beating her mother, we will
consider it a great success!'
Expressing oneself creates confidence, to say the least. It's in
fact the only way to be happy, to be successful, to be in love. Only when
our outer activities get synchronised with our inner world, the above
magical things -- confidence, love, success, happiness -- become simple
facts, realities of life. For them, dance expresses their inner self.
For us...? It could be anything. Singing, dancing, playing,
drawing, writing, or researching.
My black and white writing can't reproduce all the effects of the
colourful picture I have carried back. But I hope many of us would get
curious (and not put-off!) about the colours of that simple ensemble, the
colours that I can't show myself with any amount of poetry of words. You
must go there and see it for yourself.
I will find it a great success if this mail, which I have typed
while my eyes are laden with tiredness and sleepiness, makes some of you
really find it a worthwhile effort to visit Nrityagram in the near future.