Culture and compassion

1 / 1

Culture and compassion

In Spanda, no one dancer has a role that stands out as pivotal, unlike the hero-heroine oriented stories we are used to seeing.

This April 25, prepare to experience a confluence of culture and compassion. The occasion is a Bharatanatyam performance by danseuse Aditi Jaitly Jadeja to raise funds for the Salaam Baalak Trust. Accompanying the celebrated dancer will be percussionist M V Chandershekar, Carnatic vocalist Sudha Raghuraman and flautist MV Chandershekar. Jadeja, a disciple of Leela Samson, says she'll stick to a traditional Bharatanatyam repertoire comprising pure dance and expression pieces. I know that there's a lot of buzz around being innovative, edgy and path-breaking. But there's nothing like sticking to tradition in Bharatanatyam.

The mainstay of my performance is a varnam (colour) a mixture of expressional dance and rhythm, requiring the dancer to have a grip over expressing the nuances of the verse. The text is set and dancer interprets both the l meaning of the words and the mood, she elaborates. At the fundraiser, she plans to dance to the Ragamalika, an old varnam that comprises verses that express the Shringar Ras through the love for Shiva. The sentiment is romantic and the presentation aesthetic, is how she puts it.

In today's world, opportunities for solo dancers are shrinking every passing day, opines Jadeja. The evolving sensibility may explain the rationale behind the genesis of Spanda, a dance group she cofounded with her teacher with the objective of breaking hierarchies. In Spanda, no one dancer has a role that stands out as pivotal, unlike the hero-heroine oriented stories we are used to seeing. In a dance school, everybody is not cut out to be a solo performer. In traditional dance dramas, there's a main character and smaller characters. This doesn't lend itself to a democratic structure.

Being from Kalakshetra and a student of Rukmini Devi Arundale, she [Samson] didn't want to improve upon something that was already perceived as pathbreaking. So we brought out egalitarian and abstract themes. For instance, Nadi is a collection of poems in six languages, each with its own gait and cadence. The styles, presented through dance, include Sufi poetry, thumri, Tamil Sangam poetry, Rabindra Sangeet and a modern poem by Girish Karnad, explains Jadeja. Beginning at Delhi's Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in 1995, Jadeja has evolved from disciple to guru.

I believe that you have to have special blessings to find a guru, and the guru has to be especially blessed to find a good student. I've been with my guru since I was seven. Our relationship goes beyond dance and family. Coming from a background where two members of her family are public figures (mother Jaya is a former president of Samta Party and husband Ajay Jadeja has represented India in cricket), can prove fruitful as well as challenging. It may open certain doors and also raise expectations. But Jadeja insists she didn't fall into either trap. It hasn't had any special effect on my career because of the kind of people they are. Of course, they've been extremely supportive. My mother has a deep love for the arts and dance and both Ajay and me work with our bodies in cricket and dance respectively, so there is a degree of mutual understanding and respect for each other.