NEW DELHI: The time, perhaps, wasn’t right when Kuchipudi dancer Sreelakshmy Govardhanan lost her way in the competitive race to be the best. Very quickly, she left the side of what the word ‘best’ really meant and became the average Joe who simply wanted to survive. On the occasion of World Dance Day 2018 on April 29, as she performs for Natya Vriksha’s eponymous presentation, she chats with us about how going astray boomeranged her back to where she belonged. Once she found her guru in Pasumarthy Rattaiaha Sarma, she never lost sight of what was most important to her.
It all begins with the mentor, she believes. Had it not been for Sarma, Govardhanan would have remained disillusioned. “As we grow older we become complex. We start performing for the stage and not ourselves. Go back to the time when you were a child. How you enjoyed dancing in front of the mirror, not caring for who was watching. But in the long-term, you attach your talent to awards and rewards,” she says.
When one forgets why they started performing, is when the trouble starts. Once the realisation of that purpose comes back, you liberate yourself. When it happened with Govardhanan at 28, she went back to dancing like she used to as a child.
For her upcoming performance she will render three pieces—A shabdam, a Krishna stuti in tharangam format and ashtapathi—all based on Vaishnavite themes. She’ll begin with Ramayana shabdam where the story of Rama, from his birth to coronation will be explained at a fast pace. Shabdam brings out the flavour in kuchipudi, she says. In Krishna stuti, she will dances on the rim of a dance plate.
Here, Govardhanan will expand on the nine emotions of nine different people looking at Krishna. “Sringaram is shown through gopika seeing Krishna; Raudram is expressed through Gandhari, who after realising that all her children have died, curses Krishna; Through Draupadi I will showcase Karunyam with her crying to Krishna and saying, “look at my hair. I keep them opened. Do you remember what happened in that sabah when infront of my five husbands, Kauravas still ill-treated me.”; the story of demoness Putana and how her materialistic instinct for Krishna kicked in will be portrayed. You’ll see how she begins to breast Krishna, and in the process, he drinks her milk and parana too, taking her to moksha,” says Govardhanan.
Dance has changed her perspective about life. She sees movement and poetry in trees, flowers, the wind and animals. It’s all because of how dance has helped her get in touch with herself, she says. “I am a happy person today. Whether I dance alone or in front of hundreds of people, I am so very happy. Some consider me mad as I forget where I am, but that’s that kind of fervour I want my students to learn too,” she says.
Curated by classical dancer Padmashri Geeta Chandran, the event will see other expressions such as theatre and movement workshop by Anuradha Kapur; a lecture on serpent worship and its influence on Indian iconography and art by Dr Shreedevi Nair Pal, a display of paintings and sculptures from Jaya Appasamy’s archival collection curated by Rasaja Foundation; and another workshop on Brahmari: Enhancing skills for kinetic movement and body transformation by Odissi dancer Sharmila Biswas.
There is a lecture on traditional performing arts in education; Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy and her case of the Devadasis by Dr VR Devika, Founder, The Aseema Trust; the Natya Vriksha Lifetime Achievement Award being given to dance photographer Avinash Pasricha, besides Bharatanatyam by Shweta Prachande, Odissi by Monami Nandy and Kathak by Vidyagauri. April 28-29, at India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg. Log on to iicdelhi.nic.in