Form that includes all forms  
- Priti Patil  

August 24, 2006 

On the evening of August 19, I had opportunity of witnessing a creative presentation of the company members of Latin Ballet of VA at the Fiesta del Sol.  All the dances were choreographed by dancers themselves. Selection of music or verse, lights effect and costumes - all were decided by the choreographers.  

Following was its description on the Latin Ballet of Virginia's website. "This will be an event as never before performed by the Latin Ballet as many of the Junior Company members and students have created amazingly original and intelligent solos, duets and group pieces. The choreographic presentations are as individual as the dancers themselves, who will be presenting various forms of dance ranging from Jazz and Hip Hop to Lyrical and Modern." 

And, it fulfilled its promise. There were various themes represented - Life with its routine, An eager heroine, Two loving hearts, A heartbroken soul, and a soul yearning for a greater meaning of life; using various forms of dance. 

It was uplifting to witness presentations by so many talented people.  I would specifically like to speak about Aishu Sriram's piece. Aishu has completed her Bharatanatyam Arangetram in April 2006, when she was in 10th grade in International Baccalaureate program at Henrico High School, Richmond VA. She has been also learning Latin Ballet for the last 5 years, and is part of their performing company. 

She had chosen a poem from poetical interpretation of the ancient Chinese scholar Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell.  A piece about spiritual wisdom, and she presented it using the concept of Yin and Yang.  The poem reader, Will Walker, represented Yang (sunny) with the white dress, bright light and clearly spoken words; whereas Aishu represented Yin (shady) with black dress, silhouette lighting and beautifully choreographed, almost abstract like modern dance. 

The poem started with seemingly paradoxical, unfathomable aspect of the element, that we sometimes call 'God' in many philosophies:  
Look, and it can't be seen. 
Listen, and it can't be heard. 
Reach, and it can't be grasped. 
Accompanying the words were Aishu's graceful moves, demonstrating her control on the well-toned, skilled muscles. 

Above, it isn't bright. 
Below, it isn't dark. 
Seamless, unnamable, 
it returns to the realm of nothing. 
Aishu represented the heights and depths of being by elegant movements with stretch and controlled collapse; and representation of nothing was done by disappearing into the left wing... 

Form that includes all forms, 
image without an image, 
subtle, beyond all conception. 
She gave an energetic representation of these wonderful words of the poem. It did convey the meaning without really trying to paint a picture - communication without an image or a hand gesture - that was indeed a new experience. 

Approach it and there is no beginning; 
follow it and there is no end. 
You can't know it, but you can be it, 
at ease in your own life. 
Just realize where you come from: 
this is the essence of wisdom. 
The exuberant energy in the previous part of the poem slowly quieted down here, and at the same time, it also represented the frustration, or confusion of first two lines in this paragraph... 

A complete surrender to the seeming duality continued. Acceptance of the ways of Tao like the kindness of hearts, with gentleness of butterflies carried on, and ended in horizontal Yin/Yang posture. 

It was thoroughly enjoyable choreography. It reminded me of a Marathi 'abhang,' a bhajan / prayer by Saint Tukaram.  It goes like: "Anuraniya tokada, Tuka aakaashaa evadha..." meaning, the one who is smaller than the smallest part of atom, is also as vast, flexible and unfathomable as the infinite sky... 

Thoughtful selection and very creative presentation. Simple and beautiful... 

Priti Patil has been learning Bharatanatyam for last 7 years and teaching for last 1.5 years. Mother of twins, Uday and Vibha (8yrs), she enjoys reading and writing, teaching and learning Bharatanatyam.