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Updated: April 7, 2010 19:06 IST

‘Risky and vulnerable'

Neehar Mishra
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Anita Ratnam in performance. Photo: R. Ravindran
The Hindu
Anita Ratnam in performance. Photo: R. Ravindran

Anita Ratnam on her recent performance in New Delhi

Anita Ratnam has many facets — dancer, choreographer, scholar, writer, television producer and cultural activist among other things. But above all, she is a woman. And her celebration of this womanhood manifests itself in her art. An art deeply rooted in tradition and at the same time delving into the contemporary and urbane realms of life. Her latest production, “Ma3ka”, held this past week in New Delhi's at the Kamani auditorium, is a story of self-exploration, of “personal mythology”.

Through “Ma3ka”, Anita portrays the Goddess triad of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Meenakshi, as embodied by a woman. She also draws a parallel between the triad and the three most important women in her life — her grandmother Saraswati, her mother Leela and her daughter Aryambika. Here, she takes a few questions on her latest performance and work in general.

On her work and her concept of “Neo Bharatam”

I am not a classical dancer, although I was trained in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali. Over the years I have also invested a lot of time in meditative movements like yoga, tai chi and qi gong. For my own flexibility and stamina I train in the art of stick-fighting, silambam and kalari. I try to harness all the vocabulary that my body has learnt and deposit it like a disk. I really feel that the body has an intelligence of its own which is separate from the mind. So “Neo Bharatam” is a way in which I engage myself both with dance and with life.

On “Ma3ka”

“Ma3ka” is my way of telling the story of not just the three goddesses like the ones from the temple sculptures, but also tell portions of my own life, about women who mean so much to me. I also hope to bring forth the urban myth like the glam goddesses of fashion, dance and cinema. In fact, you may find glimpses of people in your own life, so it's really about making a personal story universal. “Ma3ka” is a work I had a lot of fun doing. But it has also been one of my most risky and vulnerable productions.

On the ‘theatrical design' of “Ma3ka”

The performance was especially redesigned by Sandhya Raman and REX for the vast space that Kamani offers. The costumes have been designed keeping in mind that “Ma3ka” is a contemporary dance theatre piece. The way the props have been used is symbolic of the visual design used in theatre.

On drawing a parallel between her personal life and her performance

I feel we all come to this world with one authentic story which is exclusively ours. So I thought, instead of pretending to be a goddess who just stepped out of a temple, why not access the fact that I love fashion, colour and glamour? “Ma3ka” comes closest to who Anita Ratnam is. Those who know me can see all that in the performance as a sub-text.

“Ma3ka” has been a success, especially with the younger generation. I would call it a ‘box-office hit'!

On her expectations from the audience

I want my audience to realise that “Ma3ka” is all about passion, joy, pain, conflict, struggle and celebration. It is about the incredible journey of a woman who is not afraid of being who she is, not afraid of being vulnerable. I wish my audience find at least some moments to take back as images, some thread or universal cord between my story and theirs.

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