Travel Diaries

Spirit of Margazhi

Bharatanatyam dancer Nitya Sriram from Singapore recounts her experience of the December Music Dance season 2022-2023; her learnings, new perspectives and connecting with the dance community from across the world in Chennai

The company dancers and I had excitedly gone through the Music Academy schedule multiple times, prior to the trip and had almost memorized it. We chatted away on the flight to Chennai, discussing the exciting line-up of the Madras Music Academy Dance Festival. This time, we at Apsaras Arts, had the lovely opportunity of dancing at two prestigious venues in Chennai at Vani Mahal on 5 January and the prestigious Madras Music Academy on 8 January.

The dance festival line-up at the Music Academy was, as always, amazing. Every solo artiste had something unique to bring to the festival. Bharatanatyam dancer Praveen Kumar kickstarted the festival with a phenomenal solo. He performed the piece, Yathai Kandu Nee Ichai Kondai, in ragam Kalyani which I will never forget. This Padam was narrated from the perspective of a father and is about dealing with his relationship with his daughter, and was different from the typical Padams that we usually learn.

Every artiste incorporated a piece of themselves into their dancing and there was a lot of divergence from traditional topics that were covered in their repertoire. It was truly refreshing to watch and spurred some creative ideas in me as well.

Apart from the slew of performances, we had rehearsals every day. We got the opportunity to re-unite with our friends from India. It was fantastic to spend time with Rutuja, Nivedha and Vaishnavi who danced with us just a couple of months ago at Esplanade Theatres for ARISI:Rice. We immediately got to syncing our learning with theirs and had a fabulous time dancing with them on stage in their home ground.

Vani Mahal and Music Academy are venues I have frequented since I was a child and have seen so many of my dance idols perform here, and to be dancing on those very stages felt absolutely surreal to me.

Connecting with other like-minded dancers, watching programmes and dancing everyday, made the trip wholesome. To be in a city with so much talent during the beautiful season of Margazhi will be an experience I will never forget.

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Devata: Guardians of Dance

BLK D Goodman Arts Centre

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