The first in the series of webinars curated as part of the Dance India Asia Pacific 2020 that unfolds in a digital avatar this year was The Dancing Body by acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer-choreographer, Priyadarsini Govind. The session was hosted by Meera Balasubramanian, Bharatanatyam dancer and Company Dancer, Apsaras Arts.
Priyadarsini began firstly by acknowledging that the topic was particularly special to her and one that was also particularly relevant in the now. “What I’m going to be sharing,” she clarified at the outset, “is drawn from my own experience of a period of transition where I stopped dancing for a few years and then the uphill struggle that my body went through to be able to get back to my full potential in dance”.
As an informal sharing of a very pertinent subject, Priyadarsini began by making a reference to how we are often asked to dance from within/inside. “We often take that for granted or sometimes don’t even realise what that means at a deeper level,” she said, “But it’s only when I returned to my dance, full-time that I started asking myself some important questions that I believe every dancer must know, and be concerned with. What is the body really about; how do you build strength, what is it to perform and what is it to practice?
In an attempt to de-mystify that, the lecture was broken down structurally to address the common muscle groups that dancers tend to use. Broken down as posture (referring to the movements in the upper body) and Aramandi (lower body), Priyadarsini’s students, Shweta Prachande and Apoorva Jayaraman — gave a visual form to Priyadarsini’s words, allowing participants understand and appreciate not only the anatomical aspects but also the way we actually apply it in the context of dance.
The demonstration brought to fore the importance of stretching and strengthening to practice and perform; the body, as Priyadarsini is a composite of many parts and the need to understand stability and dynamism to be able to dance with freedom, and from within.
The grand finale was a performance by Shweta and Apoorva, where they re-created the magic of a song from Tamil cinema in yesteryears. Packed with pace, dynamism, movements and expression, the dance was truly an ode to the dancing body, its potential, and its possibilities.
Alarmel Valli in conversation with Aravinth Kumaraswamy, September 5, 8.30pm SGT, 6pm IST