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dance, poetry and... (2014)

Choreographer’s note
CIRCLES OF LOVE has been “mused” into a performance. I hesitate to call it dance since I have stopped calling myself a dancer several years ago. I prefer the word “performer”. I use words, design, multimedia, lighting and choreography to illuminate my ideas. I collaborate with professionals from several disciplines and sometimes take a year to create an evening’s work.
This work has departed from the normal trajectory. CIRCLES OF LOVE has emerged out of my life AND my dance repertoire. It has been created as a continuous work in progress since my own learning as a daughter first and a mother next is still shaping. The work has also been “birthed” in a single month of intense discussions on e-mail and facebook with Malavika Sangghvi, my comrade in life as a single mother and a dreamer. CIRCLES OF LOVE contains excerpts from earlier works, reshaped for this theme with some fresh choreography and ideas embedded in the non-linear narrative.

Since 1996, I have mined my personal diaries to create performances that speak anew, stories of the past. This thought emerges from the fact that we each have our own DNA and that my story is unique. Not wanting to be a walking cliché of trying to impersonate Gods and Goddesses in an eternal time warp, I feel an urgency to discover a new kind of authenticity – of embodying myself in life and performance. The risk of self indulgence is constant and that is the fine line that is constantly stepped upon – a delicate balance between art and diary.

From our names that frequently resemble divine beings (Mine is Anita Raajyalakshmi, my sister is Pritha Padmasini and my daughter is Aryambika, while my grandmother is Saraswati) our lives, ritual, mythology, personal histories are constantly intertwined and colliding.

CIRCLES OF LOVE...the embrace of words, images and sound in a palimpsest of mood moments. Drawing from my training in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali as well as meditative movement arts,the kinetic impulses are not to create impossible thrills but rather a quiet “frisson” punctuated with humour and modern beats. Rap poetry, storytelling, dance, intimate histories, multiple images are created and erased. Mandalas across space shape a crucible within which traditional rhythms like a Bharatanatyam “Kauthuvam” is punctuated with personal diaries of family women.Grandmother, mother and daughter... The past and the future sit together like pieces of a puzzle.  Tradition jostles with life...Myth and loss weave a patchwork quilt of stories and mood images.

Resisting the normative values of motherhood as being endlessly nurturing, loving, giving and sacrificing, Malavika Sangghvi and I use poetry, personal thoughts, rhythm, extreme mood variations in the theatrical and choreographic vision. CIRCLES OF LOVE uses props, and my recurring motif of the unstitched fabric that morphs into many images. Juxtaposing the soothing sounds of lullabies against the raw soaring voice of a Rajasthani Rudali, the circle/cycle of life and beyond is mapped.

Pounding drums, sacred Latin chants, the low hum of the didgeridoo and the serenity of Tibetan bowls - tonight’s sound design is a convergence of international strands that quilt an evening of sound, word and image.

Literature from women’s voices from Hawaii, Jamaica, Australia and India add texture to the dance theatre creation. Overarching inspiration is drawn from Sri Aurobindo’s seminal monograph THE MOTHER, where the four main aspects of the Divine Feminine are illuminated.

CIRCLES  OF LOVE traces the contours of embracing arms that hug, feed, sow, plant, reap, cook, strike and stroke. Mothers and daughters... daughters and mothers… It is a continuous spiral... an umbilical cord that winds its way within our bodies and outward across body and breath.

- Anita R Ratnam

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