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Dr. S. Vasudevan: Dance and music are like body and soul
- Shveta Arora

April 23, 2017

Dr. S. Vasudevan, a disciple of Dr. Vyjayanthimala Bali and Jayalakshmi Ishwar, performed alongside Vanashree Rao at the Festival of Creative Choreographies held in Delhi last month. Vasudevan is a well-known Carnatic musician and vocalist, and on stage, I have seen him among the musicians more often than taking the stage as a dancer. After a rousing Bharatanatyam performance, I spoke to him about being both dancer and musician, and he explained that the division is more a modern phenomenon.

How have you attained excellence in both dance and music?
Both the art forms, dance and music, are like body and soul. The mind itself is a melody. And the melody is the mind. It's a spiritual connect. When I sing a raag, and take the alaap, and see the movement of the dancer, I feel the appreciation within myself. As I said, music and dance are as inseparable as the body and soul.

Is it an advantage being a dancer if you are a singer?
Of course, it is an advantage in today's generation. It is an advantage if the dancer knows the music, but in my time, when we were learning, they were no two (separate) things as training in music and training in dance. Of course, there is separate training for concert music, but my guru Dr. Vyjayanthimala Bali, was an excellent singer, and she taught us that a dancer should first be a singer. Unless I feel the melody, the music, the rhythm, the lyrics, I will not be able to dance. These are therefore known as the natya angas. I cannot do justice to the dancer if I do not know the movements.

Photo: Anoop Arora

We've usually seen you as part of the accompanying musicians. Have you ever felt that you could have taken the stage yourself?
Yes, of course, an eye of appreciation is always there. You look at the beauty around - the lights, the shadows, the movements. All teach me how to better appreciate the dancer. All my senses work and an artist grows on appreciation.

What are your observations on being a male dancer?
There is a stage when you are a student and you have these inhibitions of a male-female dancer when choosing a composition, and in what we deliver to people. It is then that you are conscious of being a male or a female. But when we become dancers, we graduate to a stage that the body is not important, it is the soul that participates in the dancing and the energy comes from your spirit. Then it becomes divine bliss and the consciousness of your gender diminishes. You are able to connect with your audience better.


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