|Nirvana through Natyam|
Art remains strong and rooted, the medium used for expressing keeps changing though, this is how I am assuming art evolves. Will art get a chance if individuals from different corners of the globe are discouraged from pursuing? What is important? Keeping the form/s locked within four walls or giving them wings to fly? ANJALI has the answers…
For creative people passion is not just a word, it is their lifeline. In pursuit of expressing themselves through various art forms, crests and troughs become their companions for life. One such passionate Canadian artist, dancer is ANJALI (Dr. Anne-Marie Gaston), Ph. D. from Oxford University in Indian Art and Culture; elected Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, London. She is an internationally acclaimed Classical East Indian dancer. ANJALI is also a choreographer, teacher, lecturer, ethnographer and photographer.
ANJALI went to India with CUSO (Canadian University Service Overseas) in 1964 and learnt Bharatha Natyam from Ellappa Pillai, Kalashetra Gayatri Venkataraman and many other gurus. She stayed there for over two years and gave her first performance at Alliance Francais in Chennai (formerly Madras). “I never did an arangretram because it is very expensive.” That achieved, she thirsted for more and in over twenty years of stay in India, ANJALI went onto learn Oddissi from Kelucharan Mohapatra and other gurus. For Chhau dance, she learnt, both Mayurbanj as well Seraikella tradition from Krishna Chandra Naik, Lingaraj Acharya and Sasadhar Acharya, Kathakali from Kalamandalam Balasuramaniam, Kuchipudi from Raja Reddy and Mohiniattam from Bharat Sivaji. It is obvious that she had fallen in love with Indian art and therefore wanted to create awareness about dance forms in Canada. Armed with her exposure and knowledge, Anjali started taking small steps towards it by performing throughout Canada, Mexico, UK, USA, Holland, France and India. Living a life devoted to dance brought in its share of challenges. “People in Canada won’t care about it because I am not from India. It is really sad. Something needs to be done about Indian dance by non-Indians. It is absolutely important. As long as non-Indians want to dance for hobby, it is fine, but professionally it is very discouraging. Everybody knows about the glass ceiling.” They say art is like an ocean and the general impression is all streams, lakes and rivers will merge into that humungous ocean. Impressions remain just that, mere impressions. Undeterred ANJALI keeps making waves and goes about dancing, creating and reaching out.
ANJALI’s impression of India in the sixties is that of an openness that seems to be missing these days. “I lived in Chennai and used to have dosai, idly every day and people did wonder how I lived alone. But it was different then, safe and gentle and one could go anywhere.” So then does she know any Indian languages? “I studied Sanskrit, Tamil and a little bit of Hindi. But then nobody can claim to know anything very well,” says ANJALI when asked how well versed she is in these languages.
Ask ANJALI what dance means to her, she says, “it’s my life and it makes me alive. I believe that Indian dance is not Indian dance alone; it is much more than that. Indian dance relies on many different elements including art, philosophy, images. And when asked what is the future of dance she promptly replies, “I am afraid Bollywood is going to win.”
|< Prev||Next >|