Romancing the natyam from foreign lands

Iris Debiève, a 24-year-old French girl lives between  India and France. Courtesy, her French mother and her Indian step-dad.

Published: 25th February 2017 03:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2017 03:34 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Iris Debiève, a 24-year-old French girl lives between  India and France. Courtesy, her French mother and her Indian step-dad.

Between the juggle and fear of being identified as “the French girl”, she took up Bharatnatyam. “I felt less and less different,” she writes on her blog. “I might be from France, but today I feel Indian at heart.”

It has been seven years since Iris started her Bharatnatyam journey. She received her diploma in Bharatnatyam from Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai and is currently training in Bharata Kalanjali there.

Learning Bharatnatyam was a “time pass thing” initially, but her family suggested that she should take it up full time since she is “not that bad”.

‘It is Personal’

For her, Bharatnatyam is more than “just movements. “It is a personal experience,” she says of the dance and adds that she attains a higher level of consciousness through Bharatnatyam.
Today at 7 pm in Iskon Temple, Iris will be presenting a Bharatnatyam performance along with Yahui Chan from Taiwan and Lerissa Ekambaram from Cape Town, who will perform theirs.


African Experiments
Lerissa Ekambaram started dancing Bharatnatyam at the age of five.
Today she is twenty and is in India from four months to train herself in the art form and learn under Dhananjayans, the dancing couples.

“I grew up in a culturally rich family. My mother plays many instruments and dancing came along with music. That is how I was introduced to it,” says Lerissa.

However, in South Africa despite people loving the art form, Lerissa felt there was not much scope. She ventured out of the country for the first time last November.

“I am a psychology student, but then I want dance to be my primary career, so I decided to come here,” Lerissa shares.
The main challenge she faced in South Africa was of not being able to understand the context of the art piece she was working with. “Bharatnatyam is about communication and it is difficult to communicate when there is little understanding,” she says.

Fascinated by Philosophy
According to her it is easier in India as people understand the dance but here the challenge is about integrating with a different culture and adapting to it.

“I am fascinated by the philosophy of this art form. On the surface it is about stories, but underneath is the philosophy of the dance,” says Lerissa.

“For example, for me Krishna represents the illusions and the attachments of the materialistic world,” she explains.
She will be performing a eight-minute solo dance depicting Krishna and love.

In Love
Yahui Chan came to Bengaluru last December to learn Bharatnatyam. She is currently a disciple of Guru Sathyanarayan Raju.

Yahui says she fell in love with the art when she was majoring in Performing Arts in Paris. “The dance is very spiritual and I find it similar to Chinese Classical dance,” Yahui says.
“Maybe because there is a bit of theatre involved in it,” she adds. Besides Bharatnatyam she is a Chinese classical and modern dancer.

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