The journey continues
- Malavika Sarukkai
e-mail: malavikama@gmail.com

November 26, 2016

When I think of my mother Saroja Kamakshi, I recall with deep fondness her passionate desire to live life creatively. This was her mantra. She was a person unsatisfied with the ordinary, the predictable, the clichéd. For her, life meant being courageous and taking risks to follow one’s calling. And it is in this spirit of faith and passion that I took up dance full time and later went on to create over the last 30 years, a large body of work shaped by my thinking.

When I think of her now, many facets come to mind. Primarily, we were fellow pilgrims on our journey in dance. Bhakti, philosophy, aesthetics, poetry, music, dance… this was our world, our sanctuary. I remember an incident when we had to get our passports renewed. A sea of people crowded the office room, anxious men and women waited for the stamp of approval. The afternoon wore on. In the midst of this, squeezed into a small corner of the room my mother and I sat cocooned in our discussion of a dance concept and the philosophy it reflected. Nothing mattered, the noise, the swarms of people, the interminable wait!

Discussions with my mother rarely remained at the superficial level. She was not daunted by emotional depth or incisive thinking. She was always ready to take the long route if it promised even a glimpse of discovery. So it was that I grew up in the most formative years of my dance journey in this fertile, invigorating environment. This meant that dialogues on dance at home invariably gravitated to inner levels of meaning. Text, subtext, context, poetic inference, all aspects demanded attention. As concepts gained momentum reference books piled high as mother and daughter shared a phrase, a paragraph, a moment of mutual delight.

One such occasion led me to create the composition on the environment, Yudhishtira’s Dream. My mother was sitting at her favourite corner reading, while I sat at mine. At one point she read me a line from her book on Sanskrit Poetics. It was from the Mahabharata which mentioned a lament of the deer, in Yudhishtira’s dream. It was unusual to come across deer speak, lamenting senseless killing and the decimation of a forest. It brought focus on an urgent concern of our present times. There was excitement as we purchased the original book, identified the lyric, met the Sanskrit scholar and commissioned the music.

The inner heartbeat of dance has a way of unlocking the secret door to oneself. At its deeper levels I believe dance harmonizes the mind and body giving it a sense of tranquility, a different sense of being. Staying with this meditative thought, over the years of sadhana I understood the difference between brightness and lustre, clever repetition and manodharma, polished veneer and authentic recreation.

Choreography for me means delving deep and long. Internalizing and immersion in dance is the path. Hard work with long hours in solitude has become a necessary part of my creative process. Through the decades of my dance journey, my mother was a trusted companion, a co-traveler on the path, and my best critic. Her spirit lives in every moment of ecstasy I experience in dance.

Malavika Sarukkai is acclaimed globally for her creative dance choreographies, which transport the viewer to the heartbeat of dance, taking dance beyond specific geographies. In recognition for her contribution to classical dance, Malavika has received many accolades. To name a few: Padma Shri from the President of India; SNA Award (2002) from the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi; Kalaimamani from the Govt of Tamilnadu; Lifetime Achievement Award from Kartik Fine Arts.
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Comments

Yudhishtra's Dream is very fresh in my memory. I saw it with my mother long back at Kamani, New Delhi The imageries that you created I cannot forget.Thank you!
    - Anuradha (Nov 28, 2016)









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