Creative spaces: Stairway to the top

THE RIGHT MOVES Madhavi Chandran Photo: Liza George   | Photo Credit: Liza George

The winding staircase to the top of the fourth floor neither tires her nor fazes her despite her severe cold. With a light breeze, the greenery playing peek-a-boo from amongst skyscrapers and buildings, a partially covered long terrace that acts like a pergola where one can see the world go by… it’s no wonder danseuse Madhavi Chandran considers this space at Vazhuthacaud, her private haven. This is where she creates dance pieces for herself and for aspiring dancers.

Laughing, she says: “As there are several steps to climb, most of the other students prefer practising on the lower floors. For me, it’s good exercise.”

Being on the top floor, she says, has its advantages. Unlike the other floors, her floor is not walled in. “It’s much cooler here when compared to the other floors. There is more of a view here too; it’s especially lovely here on a rainy day. Earlier one could see the Tirumala Hills. However, with skyscrapers coming up, the view of the hills is gradually being blocked. Another plus on being on the top-most floor – I have no distractions from dance steps overhead.”

The current asbestos sheets that pose as roofs were once just bamboo curtains strung from poles. “However, the strong winds and the heavy rains had us fixing a roof. See these asbestos slides here, we can lift them to let the breeze in,” she says, as she pauses to demonstrate a couple of dance moves on the red oxide floor.

Her earliest recollection of a work space was that of her mother Girija Chandran’s, a renowned classical dance teacher. “We used to live in the house next door. It was a tile roofed house with a courtyard. I used to dance there till I was 10. But that was mom’s work space…,” says the 24-year-old who has just completed her Masters in Bharatanatyam and is now planning to pursue a doctorate in dance movement therapy.

Although she does assist in coaching her mother’s students, especially during their dance institute’s annual anniversary programmes, she does not teach them on a regular basis. Instead she works on her own or with a group of friends who are fellow dancers. “I first started using this space 10 years ago when I was asked to choreograph and perform a small dance piece to an instrumental piece for the launch of the supplement of an English daily. I liked the privacy this place offered.”

She prefers working with her group of friends because they are on the same page. “I just need to tell them or demonstrate to them what I have in mind and they immediately pick up the thread of thought.”

Trained in several Indian dance forms, the dancer who won the Kalathilakam title (both school and college level) and the National Balasri award in 2005, has specialised in Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam. Mohiniyattam, however, is what she holds close to heart. She admits that unlike her mother, who is a strict traditionalist, she enjoys experimenting but within the basic structure of the art form.

The up and coming dancer hopes to revamp her space. “I want a mirrored studio. For dancers the mirror provides immediate visual feedback; it allows them to evaluate the height and shape of their movement, to correct their placement, and to assess the line of their bodies. It should be ready soon.”

(A series that explores the workspaces of creative people in the city and its suburbs)

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 3:40:56 PM |

Next Story