Bimba and Kalakshiti, located on 100-year-old premises, exemplify the multi-dimensional aspect of art
At first glance, Yediyur may seem like just another neighbourhood in the city, caught between modernity and a colourful past. But that's not the whole story. The locale is still going strong on its rich cultural legacy, thanks to the cultural institutions here.
One such is the dance school Kalakshiti, founded in 1991 by professor M.R. Krishnamurthy to carry on the distinguished tradition of his teacher, the legendary Rukmini Devi Arundale. “I wanted to replicate the spirit of Rukmin Devi's Kalakshetra in this space,” he says.
The spacious open air stage is built on the premises of the professor's home. Set in the arms of lush green boughs, it is mesmerising and inspirational in its design.
Language of the spirit
Dance, for Krishnamurthy, is the language of the spirit. “I feel intimately connected with god whenever I perform. This is what I try to instil even in my students,” he says.
Similar sentiments are echoed by the couple Deepika Dorai and T.D. Deepak, who founded Bimba — The Art Hut, on Ratna Vilas Road in 2001.
The foundation focuses on creating and sharing art that is ‘earth sensitive'. Forms such as rod and shadow puppetry are regularly performed.
“Calling ourselves ‘eco-friendly' gives it a superficial tone. How can you be ‘friends' with your mother? She is an intrinsic part of you as are you of her,” says Deepak.
Dedication and the simple joy of creation drive these performers. “Making money is certainly a part of life, but once it becomes central to whatever you do, it takes away the joy of learning,” Krishnamurthy says.
Deepak says Bimba's challenge lies in making people realise the difference between recycling and celebrating nature. According to him, while the former is a “conscious effort”, the latter is “instinctive”.
Deepika and her mother Uma Nagaraj perform the ‘rasaloka' (tableau) every weekend where they recreate one moment from classical legends.
“The art form was introduced to me by my grandmother and I have made a few changes to it. The idea is to let people live art as an experience rather than just be mute spectators to the performance,” says Deepika.
Rooted in culture
Bimba and Kalakshiti exemplify the multi-dimensional aspect of art. Both premises, being 100 years old, are deeply rooted in cultural and historical significance.
So does the present generation show as much passion for the arts as the previous one?
'Compassion, not passion'
“Passion denotes a certain amount of aggression; what art needs is compassion, a calm passion to reconnect with nature,” Krishnamurthy says. “Each one has their own reasons for becoming interested in any form of art. While it may be a hobby for some, it could be a serious profession.”
“One must never limit one's talents. Being open to possibilities is what art teaches,” he says.
“These days, the children are sharper and pick up things very quickly. What used to take us months, they master within weeks,” says Kamala R Shastry, a resident of Yediyur and a veena player.
The unanimous opinion of these artists and the spirit of the neighbourhood seems to be that no matter how small the number may be, art and artists never go out of style.