Dance

Kick, leap and crouch

Vyshnavie Sainath with Amrender Singh in ‘Beyond the Obvious’

Vyshnavie Sainath with Amrender Singh in ‘Beyond the Obvious’  

Kalaripayattu and Gatka come together in ‘Beyond the Obvious’, which will be staged in Chennai on July 1

What happens when aesthetics of Indian classical dance forms meets the brute power of martial arts...it is a celebration of body kinetics. Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Odissi dancer Vyshnavie Sainath wanted to experience the language of movement that emerges from combining the classical and martial.

“It is more about inspiration; not merging the grammar of the two distinct forms. When you are trained in both, the energy and flexibility it lends to your performance is unique,” says the young artiste.

She went to Kerala to learn Kalaripayattu from guru Krishna Das at Valabhatta School. “In martial arts, the ambience is as important as the learning. I lived in the traditional gurukul to master the art,” says Vyshnavie.

Improved reflexes

From the structured repertoire of the classical to the free-spirited leaps and jumps of kalari, Vyshnavie felt a new-found fluency in her expressions and an ever-evolving thought process. “It improved my mind-body coordination and also reflexes. I began to look at dance as not just an interpretation of lyrics but a physical and emotional response to situations.”

After her intensive training in Kalari, she was interested in knowing about other such forms in the country. “I was excited when I met gatka master Narender Singh,” she says.

A martial art form of Punjab, gatka is performed with weapons, especially swords. It was while learning the basics of the form, the idea to bring kalari and gatka on a single platform struck her.

“Kalari and gatka are not just about strength and agility but immense concentration. The bruises and cuts I have got during rehearsals are proof of slip ups in focus. Remember the sword is constantly hanging above you,” she laughs.

Vyshnavie shares the stage with gatka performer Amrender Singh in ‘Beyond the Obvious’. It is based on the story of Unniyarcha, a legendary warrior woman, who finds a mention in the ballads of Northern Malabar. She was trained in Kalari and wielded the urumi (sword) with ease. She was seen as a symbol of heroism and liberation. “In Sikh tradition also every woman is considered a warrior. ‘Beyond the Obvious’ signifies woman power,” says Vyshnavie.

The music is largely rhythm-based, the highlight being Guru Karaikudi Mani’s percussion compositions.

‘Beyond the obvious’ will be performed in Chennai on July 1, 6 p.m. featuring Amrender Singh and Vyshnavie Sainath, at Yagnaraman festival of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 9:52:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/kalaripayattu-meets-gatka/article19174450.ece

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