Feminists today prefer to be called ‘Womanists’ in contrast to the earlier militant rhetoric of their male-bashing sisters. The mid nineties saw a shift from the martial tone of the women’s movement to a more realistic stance of including men in the gender discourse. The images moved from ‘vulva’ to ‘womb’. That small triangular patch of skin was given star status by Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues who sensitized us to violence against women under the guise of dating and romance on February 14.
The pulsating power of the feminine divine was in full flow during the premiere of VAJRA, a dance presentation by Madhu Natraj and her STEM( a dance company) ensemble. Toned bodies and an intelligent concept were braided with smart visuals, Japanese ninjutsu, swordplay and edgy costumes. Sitting in Bangalore’s Chowdaiah Hall brimming with a mix of celebrities, artistes, painters, paparazzi and students in ripped jeans, VAJRA was presented as the new age answer to gen-next’s impatience with the esoteric and Indian mumbo jumbo. Rewind to 1993 and the potent images of Chandralekha’s Yantra and Sri, where dance diagrams of splayed legs and bent backs celebrated woman as empowered - enslaved. Rewind further to the late Ranjabati Sircar’s iconic photo in the centre of a sea of women arching to show the birth passage and Ranja holding the diamond mudra below her navel. VAJRA’s stunning opening image was a circular white womb - containing six dancers attached inside a steel structure. Praveen Rao’s eclectic sound design brought Kathak bols to the fore with meditative chimes and street sounds. Madhu’s energetic dancing was watched by her 82 year old mother, Maya Rao, the Kathak legend. A living goddess watching another blossom on stage! VAJRA celebrated its meaning; a lightening bolt and the womb of brilliance. V for- vibrance all around!