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7 GRACES... the many hues of Goddess Tara - Choreographic Statements
A solo operatic creation by Anita Ratnam in collaboration with Hari Krishnan (inDANCE, Canada)
60 mins, 2005
"Hari and I first worked together in 1998 with ADHIROHANA, which continues to be in my active
repertoire! I am so excited about this second collaboration and the planning that has gone into it.
7 GRACES marks a return to solo work that I have been planning the last three years.
Over the years, my perspectives on Goddess worship and
personal experiences with urban Indian feminism have
continued to trail my work in an organic way. An increasing
interest in comparative mythology and feminine archetypes
found resonance with the complex mythology of the Buddhist
Goddess TARA. Without a literal "telling" of her story, 7
GRACES is a stark, pared down, minimalist performance that
draws as much from my own personal mind-scape as from
the compassion and hidden drama of Tara's legends.
Creating 7 GRACES has been an open-ended journey.
The initial workshop process during the first week was very
difficult for me. I felt like a puppet creating movement
without intellectualizing to words like rage, stillness,
jeevatma, paramatma, tranquil - all without 'mudras' and
After creating the work and performing it, I can say that
7 GRACES is not about defined and known spaces.
Contrasting moods of movement and stillness, rage and
serenity continue to be explored. It's about the in-between
spaces of performance and experience. There are no
extremes. No absolutes. There are many erasures - hidden
Personal feeling and personal life experience has invested this work for sure. It is stark,
minimalistic, energetic, emotional, very personal and my most difficult work so far. It is also my
most vulnerable work. The soundscape of international sounds from western opera to mountain
flutes and wind chimes as well as Tibetan chants (given to us by the community in Bylakuppe, near
Mysore) has been an innovative combination.
The number 7 represents many things in all cultures and faiths. 7 GRACES embraces the
many moods of human experience, 7 colours, 7 sections, 7 chakras... Yet nothing is
obvious or stated. This is certainly not a glamorous performance but I am hoping that the audience
will respond in a multitude of ways to the richly textured layers of the work."
"It is indeed very exciting to work with Anita again after eight years. 7 GRACES is the result of
our nine-year friendship. Anita and I both search for experimentation and contemporaniety in our
art, and mutually admire each other's efforts in this direction. ADHIROHANA was the first phase of
our artistic collaboration. With 7 GRACES, we have expanded our collaborative creative
process, exploring new frontiers in movement, sound and light.
This has been a kinetically challenging
solo. I am always intrigued to reassess the
representation of the Indian dancing body
against the arbitrary cultural binaries of
"East" and "West," "Old" and "New."
7 GRACES represents a departure
from conventional contemporary Indian
dance in many ways. For example, we
deliberately chose not to work with any
text or slokas. Also, I wanted the work to
be performed without the use of props,
since I feel the rich movement vocabulary,
emotional intensity and eclectic
soundscape will be sufficient for the work
to speak to a range of audiences.
7 GRACES is NOT a literal re-creation of Tara's attributes, myths or rituals. We have merely
used the image of the deity Tara as a point of reference - a conceptual ground that inspires a rich
variety of corporeal movement.
From textual sources that mention twenty-one forms of Tara, we have created our work based on
7 of these forms. 7 GRACES is loosely organized along the idea of the 7 chakras of
the subtle body found in Indic religions. The number 7 therefore permeates all aspects of the
work -- there are 7 segments; 7 fluid kinetic languages in the dance vocabulary; 7
soundscapes; lightscapes and wind horses in 7 colours.
I hope that 7 GRACES pushes the parameters of narrative expression and kinaesthetics of
contemporary Indian dance in an ever-expanding direction. As with all contemporary works of art, I
welcome the audience to imagine and interpret what they see and hear."
Hari Krishnan is a Toronto based dancer, choreographer, teacher and dance scholar specializing in
both traditional Bharatanatyam as well as its contemporary abstractions. Trained by hereditary
dance masters K.P. Kittappa Pillai, P.R. Thilagam, Gopalakrishnan Pillai, Muttukannamal and K.P.
Chandrasekaran, Krishnan received his M.A. degree in Dance from York University, Toronto,
Canada. Krishnan is also Professor of Dance at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, USA. His
creative output is holistic, combining the allied arts of Bharatanatyam dance, music, theatre and
theory with contemporary, urban, post post-modern culture. inDANCE, established in 1999,
presents works that are a unique synthesis of Krishnan's South Asian and Western aesthetic
sensibilities. Krishnan's experimental and vintage work continue to be performed at international
venues including St. Mark's Dance Space, Columbia University (New York City), the Smithsonian
Institute (Washington D.C.), Canada Dance Festival (Ottawa), Tangente (Montréal), Rice
University (Houston), The Singapore International Festival of Arts and Krishna Gana Sabha and
Sundara Mahal (India).