"Dance has to come from within" | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 22, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 22, 2012

"Dance has to come from within"

... Kasturi Mukherji


Bharatanatyam dancer Kasturi at her garaceful best.

She has been applauded for bringing depth, passion and spontaneity to her work. Kasturi Mukherji has attained her mastery over the Bharatnatyam and folk dance form. Her artistic brilliance mesmerises the audience. What is the secret behind this? “Dance has to come from within. I dance with my heart and soul. For me dancing is a mode of communicating with God and searching for my inner self. While giving a performance it feels like I am in a temple offering my prayers to the gods and goddesses,” she says on a lyrical note.
While discussing how classical dance seems to be developing on parallel tracks--- the professional and the amateur, she stated “It is quite rare to see dancers who do not have another profession to rely on for their livelihood. It is even rarer to see dancers with parents who encourage their children to pursue dance over academics. Classical dance is encouraged by many families so long as it does not ultimately interfere with other more 'professional' ambitions. Even the audience who prefer classical dance is very limited in the country. India is very different in this regard. It might be a cultural issue here. We should inspire our children and prepare them properly. Moreover, factoring in the cost of a live orchestra, costumes, jewellery, traveling etc. classical dance is a pricy profession.” She continues, “I feel that the dancers tend to be neglected too. Celebrities with little knowledge on dance get opportunities to perform in various media. They take the frontline and we have to satisfy ourselves in the backseat. The dancers generally are not happy.”
The costume of Bharatanatyam is a sari or dhoti. The costume is worn in such a fashion that the end is well set and tightly kept on the waist of the dancer with the help of golden or decorated belt. Between both legs another piece of cloth is stitched, more likely as a Chinese fan which opens up when the dancer bends or spread her legs during dance. The head and forehead decorated with flowers and Tikas respectively, is quite attractive as well. All these give the performer an angelic beauty. When asked if the attire constricts the dancer's movement in any way, she says “Women basically love to adorn themselves with jewellery and beautiful clothes. They want to look beautiful. When I see my reflection before a performance, it gives me a moral boost and extra encouragement to perform. The costume and the accessories are not even heavy or uncomfortable.”
Presently Mukherji is working to promote performing arts through an institution called the Pallavi Dance Centre. “I teach Bharatnatyam there,” she said. Talking about her upcoming performance she states, “I do not get much opportunity to perform classical dance here. There is no place to promote or perform classical dance. I wish we had a vast audience for classical dance. Without knowing classical dance one cannot attain mastery over any form of dance.”

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