Neelam - A rasika’s thoughts
- Hema Iyer Ramani

September 28, 2013

“When you make friends with the present moment, you feel at home no matter where you are. When you don’t feel at home in the Now, no matter where you go, you will carry the unease with you.” These words of Eckhart Tolle seemed to come alive as I watched a performance by Anita Ratnam recently at Bharati Vidya Bhavan, Chennai.

As a rule, I do not like to “review” for very often than not, I cannot bring myself to say things that people expect to hear. Having taught under grads, I simply cannot flatter or say the politically correct statements, especially when my intention has always been to “bring the best out of my girls!”

I have watched Anita for two decades now - watching the various facets of the process of her evolution of dance. The first thing that struck me was her very fertile and intelligent mind.  From the time I saw her under the spotlight, presenting ‘The Singapore Surprise’ in her gorgeous black sari to her participation in her various productions, solo and group, I realized I have actually participated in her process of evolution – for it gladdens me to say in all honesty that not only has she evolved as a dancer, but she has taken me along with her on the journey, where I also evolved as a rasika. Creative artists are strange creatures, I have found. Once they find their niche, they stop evolving; they seem to be scared to get out of the comfort zone. So when I went to watch the performance, I really did not go with much   expectations.
I knew Anita would work on her strengths - she can never give you a boring performance. But boy, Neelam was something else! I have watched Andal before. I have watched Anita move from Bharatanatyam to what she defines as Neo Baratham, yet what struck me was this - I loved Andal years back. But to watch Andal in the Now as a mature Andal evoked emotions of austerity. There was a stillness and peace that the participating audience did not want to interfere with - a place they considered sacred - for is not the arangham a dancer’s temple? The inanimate also came alive in the course of her dance - the lotuses, the parrots and the garland also participated in her dance in the most natural way!