I did “AstaNaayika”- the 8 heroines in “Abhinaya Dharpana” in Margam style.
Then my next was “Hasya”- the Humour, something that we don’t find these days. I enjoyed working on this. It was presented as a journey to find our lost selves - a message to all to laugh more.
My other productions were:
“Varsha-Rithu”- The monsoon. It was a vibrant fusion of music, lighting and costumes. I also did “Jugulbandhi with Mohiniyattam performed by well known artist Smitha Rajan.
Then came Vamshi, “The Divine Flute”- a mix of traditional and contemporary encompassing the dance, the bamboo flute and English poetry. Shri Ravi Chandra Kulur, the renowned flautist played the flute for this work of mine.
All my productions are absolute favorites of mine.
Wow… that’s quite a bit of innovative themes…. so how much time do you take on a choreography?
It’s not time bound and you cannot do it like that. It’s a big thinking process. First there is the theme, then the script, the choreography, setting the music, the rehearsals, deciding on the lighting, the costumes and other micro details to get the perfection.It takes like six months to a year. You need to study the subject well before scripting.Sometimes you keep adding on to your productions. Life experiences that you gain do play a significant role at this. For instance when I worked on Varsha Rithu, it took me six months at first and then it extended to a year. Now when I took it up after so many years, it was another six months of work. A production doesn’t happen in a month.
How did you manage the combination of the traditional and contemporary?
Well for me my dance is my language too, where I feel you can write your own story even. But it should be within the boundaries of the language. My style is traditional, but thoughts are related to what is happening in the present day. I keep the balance between the aesthetics of the dance with that of my contemporary thinking. Like when I did Hasya, which I did in two parts; the first part was very traditional, where it was how and why Lord Shiva drank the poison but it was done in a very humorous way. The message conveyed was that you cannot escape from your problems come whatever, so it is always best to deal with it happily. The second part was dance theatre production with dialogues. When I started with Hasya, I never thought it should be this way, divided in two parts but in that process of doing the production I felt maybe I should do it like that.
What about the costumes for your dance?
Based on my productions, my costumes and jewelry are designed by the famous artist V V Ramani. I like my costumes and jewelry very simple yet elegant.
Tell us about Ambalam and eAmbalam….
We (my husband, T V Ramaprasadh, who is an acclaimed Carnatic musician and me) first started Ambalam 26 years ago in Bangalore. Back then our main objective was to teach dance and music to students in the traditional format. Over the years we conducted various workshops in schools and colleges.
Its four years since we started eAmbalam (www.eambalam.com)- World’s first Online College for Indian Performing Arts, where we provide online sessions in Bharatanatyam, Carnatic Music and Yoga. My husband used to teach online music and one of our friends suggested an online portal for dance too. At first I was not at all confident, as I really didn’t have a clue to teach dance online. Then we pondered on it to work it out and the most probable solution we arrived at was to have plenty of interactive video sessions 24/7 along with one to one sessions online – Blended e-learning methodology. With time, we introduced various certificate courses, Diploma courses, short-term courses and so on. eAmbalam turned out to be very helpful to working people and students who did not have teachers in their vicinity to learn. We have these online students come to our Center every year and we even take workshops when we travel abroad.
In 2015, we launched K-12 Life Skills Program for schools comprising of Indian music, dance, yoga and personality development that is integrated with the school curriculum.
With God’s grace we have reached over hundreds of students across the world at eAmbalam.