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    With the lotus and dance, curator Malavika Sarukkai explores creativity at this year’s NatyaDarshan

    There are some who feel the Margazhi season—with over 1,000 performances spread across a little over a month—can succumb to a kind of ‘sameness’. Helping to cut through this are events like the NatyaDarshan Dance Symposium. In its 14th edition, this year sees a change of guard—dancer  Malavika Sarukkai takes over curatorship from Anita Ratnam, who had spearheaded the event since 2011.
    “It’s important that people get to see more than just performances. There should be a sense of discourse as to what happens at these concerts,” begins Sarukkai, explaining, “Through this symposium, titled Lotuses Blossom: The Creative Process, my aim is to talk about creativity. While people comment on artistes’ works, it’s very rarely that artistes get to speak about the why and the how behind what they have created.”

    IMG_0526The process
    The dancer, who admits to feeling a little daunted when Kartik Fine Arts first approached her to curate the event, says things fell into place when she zeroed in on the Sanskrit line ullasita vikasat sarasijam (the lotus blossoms)—around which she has themed the event—and began ideating with co-curator Hari Krishnan (professor at Wesleyan University). “It is about time we took the art of dancing seriously. Performing for more than 40 years has given me a lot of insight and inspiration, and I believe the audience needs to get up close with us, to find out what the creative mind of a dancer is,” says Sarukkai, who will set the ball rolling with a performance called ‘To the light’. “It’s split into three—the first is on the lotus as a figurein miniature painting, the second celebrates the lotus in the metaphysical (with Andal’s poetry) and the third, a contemporary piece within the classical framework.”

    Across the board
    With talks by the likes of art historian Dr BN Goswamy and author Vikram Sampath, and performances by dancer Lakshmi Parthasarathy Athreya, Kathakali performer Sadanam Balakrishnan and more, Sarukkai insists that non-dancers will also find the symposium interesting. “After all, it’s about creativity—the essence of which ties in with a whole lot of disciplines.” Meanwhile, former curator Ratnam, hopes this year will see a lot of youngsters in the crowd. “They can listen to people from theatre and performing arts, which will probably give them food for thought and perhaps even give them inputs for their own practice,” she says, adding that the audience must “come and listen to the morning sessions and attend at least a couple of the evening sessions.”
    Rs.100 -Rs.1,000. From December 18-21, at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore. Details: 24997788

    —Surya Praphulla Kumar

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