Dance

In pursuit of rasa

Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh

Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh  

Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh spoke on how emotions impact the dancer’s body and mind in the lecture series of Chaitanyalahiri

It was a gathering of dance practitioners, aspirants and academicians on a cold afternoon at the Mysore Association, Matunga, to hear Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh speak on ‘Vibhava and Anubhava’ in the first of the lecture series of Chaitanyalahiri, hosted by Revathy Srinivasaraghavan and Dr. Suman Badami.

Welcoming and introducing the erudite speaker, Suman said, “It is our endeavor to extend beyond classroom learning.”

“Describing rasa is like describing taste. It is anubhuti, experiential not inferential,” said Dr. Ganesh. In Vibhava, artiste uses body for articulation. In a solo performance, Aharya establishes external ambience with minimum expense.

“Only a person rich in emotion can bring it out,” averred the speaker. Using the emotion as raw material, the sthayi bhava, the state of a permanent mood is sublimated towards the finished product ie., rasa. Attendant emotional conditions, vibhava, anubhava, vyabhichari bhava are the combined catalysts for rasa. Now named as sanchari, the dance interpretation is like the sangati, musical variations.

The dancer should keep the aesthetic distance that is involving without involving.

Adding to the clarity of his statements, he cited scenes from Shakuntalam, to describe Alambana, the hero and the heroine, determinants and Uddipana, the excitants, support of heroine’s friends — Anusuya and Priyamvada. Vyabhichari bhava are transitory influences supporting the sthayi bhava, the primordial emotion.

Extending beyond the subject, the speaker offered titbits that came as subsidiary information: Instant rasas are hasya, veera, rowdra, bheebhatsa and bhayanaka. Purusha is a gender neutral. Kama stands for finer aspects of mind. Kamasutra lists the 64 arts and one of them is dance. Art is connected with chitta vritti, not mere body. Lyricist for dance should know basic classical music and dance.

He quoted Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam who advocated that body has to be trained to forget itself. “Importance of anga shudhi, grace of the body is more important than physical beauty,” he said.

“Sringara rasa is like the drawing room of a home and other rooms offer sustenance. Nritta, pure dance, is non- referential and pleasing embellishment. Sringaram in vernacular means beautification.”

Dr. Ganesh listed the different interpretations of Shoka rasa.

When a commoner speaks he is exact and functional while dancers elaborate. Their narration is vivid, and intensified in communication.

Avadhana is concentration and every true dancer is an avadhani, who connects with the musicians of the orchestra, the lyrics, the presentation and with the audience.

Dance presenter make a flow chart. Dancers have it in their hardware: the universal emotion of the world past, present and future. So much of emotion can be shown only through dance. An honest artiste’s attempt always reaches the viewer.

Every performer is a researcher. Research done with awareness becomes robust. Individuality is good but commonality is needed to reach larger audience.

“Kalidas is contemporary and eternal,” he said. Classical is constantly evolving as per the situation and context.

Sastras are encoded documentation of collective observation and experiences, said Dr. Ganesh, highlighting the necessity of looking at Sastra as a ready reckoner, capsuled reference providing the missing links and importance of Sastrakaras who assimilate information from all corners, codify them and establish the truth.

Shastra is not for scrutiny and validation but for aiding us to enhance the experience that we get by observing them in our daily life. Shastra is not an unnecessary appendage.

Bharatha is not prescriptive but descriptive; shelf life of Bharatha is as long as human existence.

The informed speech of Dr. Ganesh for close to three hours was extempore, simple and scholarly, and an appetiser for aspiring artistes. The talk was an impetus to dancers to fortify themselves with theoretical knowledge to accentuate presentations with skilled precision, whereby the spectator is emotionally absorbed into the art with pure joy of rasa experience.

This effort of Chaitanyalahari, at “demystifying shastras” as indicated by Suman proved that “the more rooted we are, the more we are able to fly.”

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 12:20:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/in-pursuit-of-rasa/article30751412.ece

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