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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


ANITA RATNAM

"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 classical 'abhinaya'.

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 and apparent.

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."


HARI KRISHNAN

"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).

Contact: hkrishnan@wesleyan.edu




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