OTHERS

Lessons from dance

YOU SEE her walking and you realise at once that she is a dancer. When she speaks, she gesticulates. Ann Moradian speaks of her dance with passion and commitment.

Ann started her career as a ballet dancer and performed with several companies for years in America. Then she moved to modern dance and after years of performing, she feels "that only now" her technique is as strong as her ballet was. "I am happy I switched over to modern dance", she says.

There are three well-known modern dance techniques in America - Taylor, Horton and Limon. Ann studied all the three as well as another form, which has links with yoga. She has synthesised these forms to create her own technique. "I am really happy about it".

Ann learnt yoga from an American teacher. At that time, she did not know it was yoga, "I thought it was a stretch class", she laughs. Three years later, in college, at the New York University, she took a course in Philosophy, which included Hinduism. She happened to choose the "Yoga Sutra" for her book report. To her utter amazement, she realised that she had been practising yoga without knowing it."It was really an eye-opener for me. As I read the book, I kept telling myself, I know this".

For Ann, reading the "Yoga Sutras" before actually experiencing yoga would have "completely ruined the experience" because, then she would have been "looking for something".

Her marriage to an Indian executive brought her nearer to the home of yoga and Chennai. "I love dancing because I have learnt so much... not just about dance but about life, and God," says Ann.

Analysing a dancer's life, she says, "The mind gets confused, it holds on to things and thinks it knows something... but the body isn't like that. The body hurts, the body works, it speaks to you... that's why I love dancing. It has taught me so much, and taught my mind to listen to the truth".

Ann has had wonderful teachers, and has performed since 1977 with famous ballet companies. In New York, she performed with Anna Sokolow's Player's Project and got rave reviews. Her own company, Perspectives in Motion, was formed in 1988, and it has toured extensively.

Away from the scene of hectic dance activity, Ann manages to keep in touch by working out in her studio at home, and exploring new ideas. Part of this is also observing Indian classical dance to understand it better.

Sometime last year, a friend called me one afternoon and said, "We need a foreigner to play the part of Sister Nivedita in a film. Can you suggest someone?"

Within minutes, Ann was contacted and with her having acted in a few American films, she had no problem doing her first Tamil film.

How does it feel to be one of the actors of an award-winning Tamil film, I ask her, soon after the success of "Bharati" at the National Awards. "Wonderful", says Ann, who has high praise for the director.

She hopes to take a video with her and show it to her mother in America.

LAKSHMI VISHWANATHAN

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