By Mohanapriyan Thavarajah
Bonjour (a word to greet some one) and Merci (Thank you) were the words I kept repeating to the crew at various venues, theatres and to the lovely audiences.
The first time in my life I witnessed how love is showered with appreciation by the house-full audience who gave me a long-standing ovation… the longest I could remember! At that moment I was humbled and felt so proud to be an Indian classical dancer who could touch their heart through the medium of dance. The more I dance the more I travel! The more travel the more I fall in love !
Bonjour (a word to greet some one) and Merci (Thank you) were the words I kept repeating to the crew at various venues, theatres and to the lovely audiences. The first performance destination was at Strasburg which is located closer to the border of Germany. From Charles de Gaulle airport we took a train to Starsburg to complete a four hour journey. At every station I wanted to capture the beautiful station name but they passed too quickly for me to learn. When we finally reached Strasburg, we were welcomed by Rajeshwari Parisot and her lovely friend.
The same evening was our tech rehearsal at Point d’Eau theatre and the tech crew was extremely sensitive towards Indian Classical arts hence they were able to give the best acoustics and technical support. We met a senior citizen who was helping out with the foyer decoration as the festival season was in conjunction with Deepavali – a celebrated Indian festival at the venue. She had collected over the years different materials from different parts of India and delightfully expressed to me how much she loves Indian classical art forms.
The next day was the memorable performance night where I performed Thandav and the Ambassador from Indian High Commision for India joined us. The first time in my life I witnessed how love is showered with appreciation by the house-full audience who gave me a long-standing ovation… the longest I could remember! At that moment I was humbled and felt so proud to be an Indian classical dancer who could touch their heart through the medium of dance.I also learnt that French audience immerse into learning about arts and culture across borders and have regular access to watch Indian classical music and dance performances live . The best part of that evening was when I had the opportunity to meet some of the French audience post show who could connect to the mythological stories, god and goddesses that I demonstrated in my performance. Their curiosity and knowledge about Indian mythology and performing arts totally awestruck me.
The next day, Vidyalaya had organised a dance workshop for the French students who have been learning Bharatanatyam under the guidance of Mrs Rajeswari Parisot at the beautiful choreography centre. It was a surreal experience looking at their humility, commitment, eagerness for learning and sense of gratitude towards their teachers.
We returned to Paris and I performed an excerpt from Parama Padam at the Centre-Mandapa a French organisation who have been consistently presenting and supporting Indian classical arts at their intimate theatre for more than forty years. This was my second time performing at this venue after two years. The loving reception by the entire family of Mandapa has not changed and they thoroughly enjoyed the rendition of Parama Padam - The Life game of Snakes and Ladders.
Next was a workshop organised by Shantam Dance School founded and directed by my dearest friend Anusha Cherer Duchesne. I developed a practical aid called Parayogam which talks about the importance of toning and tuning the dancing body. Talking about the techniques, application and explain the Adavu system through geometrical patterns was something they really enjoyed.
During our stay at Paris we were hosted by a senior couple who live in a 150 year old heritage bungalow. They welcomed us with much love and respect. Michelle - the hostess had learnt Bharatanatyam when she was young and is now in her 70s. She continues to practice actively even now. Learning about their life style and experience, at their beautiful residence was an experience to remember.
We had final performance for Carnatic Conservatory of Paris organised by Bhavana Paradyumna. It was an illustrious talk by Aravinth Kumarasamy on Angkor Wat temple’s bas-reliefs. This talk was accompanied by my performance bringing the sculptures alive. In addition to that evening we had a live performance of songs by Bhavana Paradyumna to add to the beauty of the entire theme and setting. This event was attended by many of the art connoisseurs and was held in a centre where the Yoga practice had originated in Paris.
I spent most of my time catching up with my friends and family members. I also visited petit France and some of the old heritage sites. They were simply inspiring !
The more I dance the more I travel ! the more travel the more I fall in love !