The Dance India Asia Pacific 2020 kickstarted with a panel discussion titled, What’s Your Voice in Dance with a panel that comprised four young Bharatanatyam dancers — Dakshina Vaidyanthan, Kavya Muralidaran, Manasvini Ramachandran and Mohanapriyan Thavarajah. The conversation was moderated by Aravinth Kumaraswamy, Artistic Director, Apsaras Arts and Akhila Krishnamurthy, Founder, Aalaap.
In a fragile, distorted world with an overdose of information and stimulus, the intent of the discussion was to understand the imperativeness of a dance voice and also gain insights on how each of these young dancers is carving for themselves, a unique voice and aesthetic of their own.
The discussion began with each of them addressing their instant thoughts of what dance voice in itself means to them — “a medium of expression, an extension of one’s personality, an instrument to become a better version of yourself”.
As dancers who are, in a sense, continuing the legacy and identity of their mothers/parents/institutions that stand for a certain aesthetic, the panel also brought to light, the importance of constantly enriching and evolving the dance voice within. Principal Dancer of the Apasras Arts,
Mohanapriyan spoke about how his work is deeply enriched by the work of the many legends, stalwarts and their banis, and how it continues to mature with the many perspectives and cross-cultural influences that allow Apsaras Arts to find for itself newer avenues to explore, and unravel.
Manasvini Ramachandran spoke about how her study in the area of Conservation has gone onto inform and influence her dance — its context, both tangible and intangible — and the crucial need to find a sense of gay abandon in her dance; the need to “let go” and dance.
Responding to a question on the digital mania, Dakshina Vaidyanathan alluded to the importance of discernment on the part of an audience and the need to appreciate the fine line that separates a voice from noise. “If you entered a classroom with children, every child,” she said, “it may be full of noise, but every child there has a voice of its own. Surely, within the mania, there are many voices that need to be heard and appreciated.”
Kavya Muralidaran, who carries forward the legacy of her parents/dancers and is in pursuit of a dance voice of her own simultaneously, spoke about the importance of sharing and building a distinct dance voice that is honest, authentic, and soulful at the same time. “Social media is a powerful platform to build for yourself a brand, a voice of your own.”
The discussion ended with the dancers responding to a question (from a member of the audience) on the need to use their voice to create work that is reflective of the times that we live in, and use the voice “responsibly” and to make it “inclusive and accessible” at the same time.
A voice is an identity; a voice must be distinct but a voice is constantly evolving; for it to be relevant, the voice needs to constantly seek, find, express, share, and always be aware that the arts, like life, is a constant, continual work-in-progress.
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Tomorrow, September 5, 4.30pm to 5.30pm SGT (2pm to 3pm, IST) Priyadarsini Govind presents The Dancing Body