In conversation with Bharatanatyam exponent, Malavika Sarukkai as she decodes the process of how Anubandh, her latest solo production, came to be

What was the genesis of Anubandh?

The solo production Anubandh – Connectedness evolved during the last two years. It is an artistic response to the isolation, loneliness, trepidation and fear arising from the pandemic. I needed to express my feelings and observations and the only way I could do that was through dance.

Are all ideas of your productions born in moments of solitude and introspection or have there been cases when in the moment of frenetic activity, a thought for a production came your way?

An impulse to create can come about quite unannounced. At times, a deep emotional stirring can give rise to a concept which, in turn, transforms into a dance production. And at other times it is a restlessness within, which seeks expression.

In my experience at all times the idea persists over a length of time which finally culminates in creative expression. I have learnt over the years that this critical phase cannot be rushed as the concept must mature and evolve naturally.

Anubandh was also created in a world that was inherently silent but also there was so much chaos and uncertainty? How do these two contrasting emotions find expression in the work?

The world was chaotically silent and in pause mode during the pandemic. It was gravely unsettling. I needed to anchor my observations and feelings. Anubandh grew as a response to find myself individually and collectively in a world of turmoil.

The production seeks to reclaim our primordial relationships with the Sun and the Moon, as also with the Five Great Elements, the Pancha Mahabhutas as they are honoured in India – Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Space.

The work re-inforces our deep links with the Great Elements – the generosity of the Earth, the rejuvenating powers of Water, the caressing pleasure (sukha) of the Wind, the unending depth of sorrow (dukha) in Fire, the wonderment in sensing Space and knowing that the same life-breath pervades all.

Why is Anubandh special to you and why is it a reminder of the spirit of inter-connectedness?

At a deeper level Anubandh is about learning to co-exist and live life with a sense of connectedness and inclusivity. It’s about seeing ourselves as humanity. At a time of uncertainty in a fractured world, Anubandh is a call to the transformative power of hope.

What went into the choreography of Anubandh and how tough was it to work with collaborators on an online platform?

Working with my team linked only via online calls etc, was exceedingly tough. It was fragmenting as it lacked the warmth of real-time interaction. The only other choice was to abandon the project, which was not an option. Working intensely right through the pandemic was learning to survive keeping the body, mind and spirit alive and purposeful.

Anubandh is as much a singular pursuit as it is a collective call for the need to connect with each other, right? How does music play a role in this delineation?

The narrative in Anubandh moves from the personal to the shared and from the individual to the collective.

The music concept is an area I pay a lot of attention to as I work on creative detailing. Music texturing plays an important role in all my choreographies. Keeping this in mind the coming together of multiple voices, percussion instruments and other instrumentation is a complex and delicate approach, as their needs to be a sense of dialogue with space for silence. Only then does it become a collective enterprise with flow.


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Devata: Guardians of Dance

BLK D Goodman Arts Centre

#01-24 90 Goodman Road Singapore 439053