The petite beauty takes you to another realm with her mind-blowing energetic Bharatanatyam performances. Her Abhinaya- the art of facial expressions, which is a must-have for every Indian dancer- is undeniably unique, for which she has received worldwide acclaim. For Indira Kadambi, Bharatanatyam is like her parallel soul and like all artist of her genre, she cannot be without her dance. As she says “Have Maximum Fun With Your Art To Give Your Best”.
The perky dancer has travelled to many international platforms with her scintillating performances most of which are her own choreographies. Her choreographies are innovative blends of the traditional and the contemporary- never outplaying the intrinsic aspects of the dance yet showcasing the modern trends making the dance form easier to connect with the younger generation. She believes in going minimal yet elegant with her dance costumes- a fine befitting contrast to her buoyant dance and her spellbinding Abhinaya.
Team Ente Salabhanjika spent some time with her and here are the excerpts of our conversation with the “Abhinaya Dancer”.
Mam, this question is one which you may have been very frequently asked over time, we are again going with it for our audience. Why did you choose Bharatnatyam as your dance from among the many other Indian dances?
(She grins to the question.) I did not choose Bharatanatyam. It was like how it was with all girls during that time; my mother put me into Bharatnayam classes. I don’t clearly remember the right age when I joinedmy firstdance class. It was at that very small age of four or five I guess.
When did you start to feel that Bharatnatyam was a part of you?
I felt the dance was “ME” when I had to take a break from it due to a prolonged illness. I couldn’t dance during that time and it was then that I felt something in me or some part of me was missing. Until then I never missed my dance, it was always there as my daily routine.
She laughs…her gaiety towards life is very palpable in the air.
Coming to your Gurus, you have studied under many stalwarts in the industry. How have they molded you as the dancer you are today?
It is a process I would say.My first lessons were under Shri. Janardhan Sharma. He lived close to my house and every evening my mother used to take me there for my lessons. And then I think it was after 8 or 10 years, when I was in the 8th grade, I happened to see the performance of Smt. Usha Dattar in a nearby temple. You could say I was kind of mesmerized with her performance- totally bowled over. I then insisted that I wanted to learn the dance from her. I told my parents if ever I continue to learn dance, it should be under her. And it so happened that when we went to her for this, we learnt that she was my mother’s dance classmate too, back in her younger days. I did my ‘Arangetram’ under her. After that I continued my dance under Guru Narmada. It was absolute fun learning under her. It was nothing like the rigid dance classes or absolute learning…Class was so much fun.By then, I was performing on my own. At around this time I met Padmabushan Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan, from whom I learned the art of ‘Abhinaya’. For nearly three decades I studied under her. I learnt Mohiniyattam from Kalamandalam Kalyanikuttyamma in Tripunithara, Kerala. I used to perform Mohiniyattam for some time. I stopped performing Mohinyattam, because back then it was very expensive to get the percussion artists from Kerala unlike today where we have them in almost every city.
So I would say in my process of learning, many gurus have molded me on different aspects of my dance. I even learnt Mridangam for a while.
How much of theory do you imbibe in your dance?
I am more inclined to the practical aspects of dance than the theory. I learn theory when there is a requirement, like for a particular production of mine, when I need to study more on the subject.
About your choreographies, each one is unique and there is the distinctive blend of the traditional and the contemporary. How have you innovated on your productions and again which is your favorite of all?
Hmmm… in my twenties I was majorly doing choreographies with traditional songs and setting it to the ‘Margam’ aspect of the dance. This was the time when I was living in Bangalore, the city where the “Joy of Dance” was sown inside me. However it was after I moved to Chennai that I experimented with my own productions. In 2000, I got this opportunity to work on a particular theme for a festival in Chennai. I did “Purusha Parinaamam”- MAN-Past, Present and Future, for which I worked with the inspiration I got from what I saw all around me- more like a woman viewing the world from a man’s perspective. It was imbibed with the essence of how he saw the world yesterday, how it is in conflict with what is happening today and how better he can make it for the future. It turned out to be a stepping-stone for my other productions.
My next production was “Sadasiva Darshanam”, in the same year showcasing the different characteristics of Lord Shiva from diverse perspectives; as a dancer, lover, devotee, atheist and so on.