Saawan is arguably my favorite performance to date not only because I was in love of the versatility of kathak that I was able to display through the show, but also because of what it meant to myself in terms of proving my dance capability and determination through health struggles.
It was the summer after my first year of college. I undoubtedly loved my university experience but put in the most simple way, it had been a tremendously stressful and testing year. But what frustrated me the most was my ambiguity towards my relationship with kathak. I had definitely been in touch with the art form throughout my year at university and was assured that I always wanted to always have it in my life, but I was facing the conflict of whether I truly enjoyed the pure classical form, or whether to lean towards a more contemporary, fusion side of kathak. Part of the issue was of course that I wasn’t able to rigorously do riyaaz, practice, in the same way that I could in Singapore, so I had been doubting my ability to master the technical aspects of kathak, especially the crisp footwork and movements.
On top of that, health wise I was conflicted and worn down between treatments. I took the decision to undergo a two month steroid treatment that summer, which only lowered my energy, stamina and overall agility. I was in love with the amalgamation of traditional and fusion pieces set to the theme of monsoon, but for the first time ever, I felt terrified that I wouldn’t be able to give justice to the incredible repertoire.
Fast forward two months and there I was on stage. I was exhausted in between pieces, barely able to catch my breath during my outfit changes. My Guru even offered to cut out one of the pieces halfway through the performance. But there was something different about performing this time. I felt like my previous shyer inhibitions had faded, and I felt overall so much more powerful. Perhaps because I could feel every inch of my body working hard and my expressions were much less forced. Perhaps because I was finally out from under the clutches of my treatment. Or perhaps because towards the end of the performance, I could just about hear the sounds of rainfall beginning, mixing in with the ringing of my ghungroos.
Here’s the highlights of me at my happiest, ‘Saawan: A Monsoon Melody’ presented at the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society on August 5th, 2017:
(S$2,000 raised for Project SMILE, Singapore)