February 22, 2010
As it turns out, on Sunday Feb 14, I set out from home having very little expectations or knowledge of what the morning had in store for me. Since I am not a dancer myself (though i have a keen appreciation of dance and all other art forms), I thought the morning would be interesting and I would get to soak up some culture by attending this lecture and that’s how I found myself walking into the Natya Stem Studio which is situated in a leafy quiet by-lane of Malleswaram at sharp 11am.
What I experienced at the lecture and demo of the introductory session - Maya to Matter – was the culmination of the efforts, and a sheer labor of love, by the students of Guru Maya Rao or Maya Didi as she is fondly addressed by all, and the vision of her daughter – Madhu Natraj – to capture for posterity and pass on the legacy of a towering individual who has relentlessly pursued her art, her craft – Kathak – and created a niche for herself among the cultural greats of this country through sheer perseverance, hard work and the blessings of her Gurus.
It was truly
a journey that encompassed Maya Didi’s 70 years of active dancing (she's
82 now) peppered with richly layered anecdotes in her own words of a little
girl growing up in the 1950s and her inexplicable attraction to the performing
arts from the tender age of 12, the undying thirst for knowledge, the struggle
in finding a guru, and ultimately the process of transmission of knowledge
from the guru to the disciple - a saga of great joy, fun, beauty, finesse
to capture the awe and respect for Guru Maya Rao’s rich and vast repository
of knowledge of her dance, the poetry and lyricism of her craft, of the
physical and metaphysical aspects that underlies her dance form, and of
course her mastery of life itself. What a richly bestowed soul -
truly favored by Krishna to communicate the richness of his creation through
her dance form. I bow my head in obeisance to a true guru and her
ability to be child-like and joyful in communicating and sharing with ignoramuses
(like me) and her prolific students alike, the multi-layered aspects of
her understanding of dance, music, culture, history - and of life
itself. The anecdotes she shared during the course of her introductory
lecture - of her guru and she - were so endearing and heart-warming, I
would have liked her to go on and on.
In conclusion, it was a morning well spent. Beautiful people, amazing vibes, the reverberating sounds of the ghungroos, heady music, marigolds all over the place trailing the banisters and strewn and strung all around, the red textured walls, the mirrors, the bright and airy, radiant-with-daylight Natya Stem Studio, and a Guru taking the stage to the utter delight of her adoring students and a very select and very- fortunate-to-be-there motley gathering of art lovers and students of life.
There are more
lectures/demos in the series in the coming months and I will make it to
as many performances/lectures as I can attend. Maya to Matter is
one experience that I will not like to miss.