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Magical experience to be on stage
- Aalaap

November 21, 2017

Kathak dancer Prashant Shah speaks about his state of mind and routine on the day of performance.

What is the state of your mind on the day of a performance?
Performance is an experience that is different each time depending on various factors like the duration of performance, content of performance, purpose of performance and many others. The body plays an important role along with mind on the day of the performance. Personally, I always tell myself to stay relaxed and calm. It does not matter to me on that day whether the performance will be appreciated or not. It is what it is, and there is no need to worry about a performance as it is always a magical experience to be on stage!

Are you always preparing for the moment or do you let go and distract yourself with other things?
Oh yes! I would say my way of focusing is by distracting myself by listening to music which is not part of the performance. That is the one thing that I just have to do! I am not the one who likes to be tied down only to the performing material on the day of performance. I need change and even on the performance day I like to listen to some other form of music as it helps me relax and gives me space to bring a fresh mood and energy to my own performance.

Is there a specific routine that you follow on the day of your performance?
Like most of us, I do have my own set of exercises, warm up sessions, and light meals. But the most important routine for me is to sit on the audience side during tech rehearsal. I really don't know why I do this. So far I have not been able to figure out why and how it helps or motivates me in the performance. I think it's just psychological.

Do you have a good luck charm that you lean on?
When I was young, yes, I did believe in good luck and superstition. But with age and maturity those things have disappeared. As they say, it's only hard work that brings good results.

Is there a specific diet that you follow on performance days?
I prefer soups or sandwiches for lunch.

Apart from the dance itself, what else do you prepare for just before the performance?
It is the tech run that consumes most of our time on performance day. I feel this is more stressful because performance is not only about the technique of the dancer or the form, but it is an experience not just for the performer but also for the audience. I definitely like to sit with the light designer or sound engineer to feel the performance space. Sometimes when my dancers are performing as a group, I like to be around them not just before the show during tech rehearsals, but also in the dressing room to make them laugh with my silly jokes! I know sometimes it's distracting but most of the times it works well.

Are there any specific people who always wish you or whom you always speak to, on the day of your performance?
Yes, definitely! I always try my best to call or speak to my Guru Kumudini Lakhia ji before my performance and take her blessings. We all value family as they play an important role in our lives. I always like to speak to my dad, mom and sister for sure before the performance because they are the ones who have always supported me and stood by me in my all ups and downs - not just in my professional career but also in my personal life. I am blessed to have such a wonderful family.

What are the most prominent and constant thoughts in your mind on performance days?
There are too many and difficult to sum up.

How do you like to spend your time in the green room?
Just chat with my dancers and musicians, and make them laugh with my silly jokes!

How do you feel before a performance? How do you feel after a performance?
An experience of curiosity, happiness and sharing.

Are there any memories from performance day occurrences that you'd like to share with us?
There have been good, bad and ugly memories from performances. I would like to forget the bad and ugly ones and keep moving on with the good memories.

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