Workshop by Guru Shankar Kandaswamy
- Rashmi Thaper

January 9, 2017

Nritta, nritya, natya, laya, Indian scriptures, mythology, ballet – he can speak on anything at length. Guru Shankar Kandaswamy from Malaysia is an acclaimed dancer and guru who visits  Bangalore every year to share his knowledge and teach aspiring students. The workshop was conducted by VRC Academy of Music and Dance and Ananya Kalaniketan from Dec 26 – 31, 2016.
I happened to attend the workshop for the first time and regretted not having been part of it in earlier years. Though learning a dance piece is one aspect of the workshop, the knowledge and experience shared by the guru puts in a higher level of inspiration to the students. We were taught a varnam composed by Madurai R Muralidharan in Simhendramadyamam ragam. When Shankar Kandaswamy said, “This is a kutti varnam,” many of us exchanged glances. As the classes began with a trikala jathi, that’s when we realized if “kutti varnam” is this then how would his complex choreographies be. The sanchari bhava of “Mahishasura Madhini” was beautifully choreographed. The combination of complicated nritta along with a different approach to abhinaya made the dance piece beautiful by itself.

He says it’s the music and the lyrics that make him think differently and he also gets bored doing the same steps, which drives him to think differently. No wonder, the adavus which were done as part of warm ups had the touch of versatility. It is unbelievable that he has a story from mythology to share for every line which shows his immense knowledge and his research before choreographing. An effortless dancer, Shankar Kandaswamy is someone who has devoted himself to the scriptures, sculpture and culture. The bhava, the energy and his passion to dance for hours together shows his sadhana in the form. He is keen on the movements being rightly done, his sharp eyes helping in correcting many. A person who strongly believes in practice, he says your work is to practice, rest will follow your way.
Such interactions with the teachers not only gives us an opportunity to learn from them but helps us to get to know them, their hard work, their journey, their passion, their sadhana which would keep many of us motivated and inspired. Dancing with Guru Shankar Kandaswamy was indeed a beautiful way to end 2016.