ONLINE: Geeta Sirisha’s Senses of Life a good example of classical creativity in lockdown

Geeta Sirisha (file pic by Anoop Arora)

Senses of Life is a dance film made in lockdown by five Bharatanatyam dancers, and, admirably, put up on online for paid – not free – viewing. The concept is by Bengaluru-based Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Sirisha, who developed it for a stage solo till the lockdown ground out any hope for live performances. So other dancers joined in and interpreted each segment, or ‘sense’, in abhinaya from their own homes. The five dancers portraying the five parts, or ‘senses’, of life are Geeta (infancy), Radhika Shetty (childhood), Gowri Sagar (adolescence), Prathibha Ramaswamy (adulthood) and Deepak Kumar (old age). The concept is not new, but its rendition was different from other classical renditions I have seen. Life is something of a vicious circle. You go all the way around and come back to where you started from. That is something that each one of us experiences and these dancers have shown it in five stages, employing one musical instrument and one prop each. Interestingly, they have not chosen specifically classical music and neither have they chosen the technical part of the dance – footwork or nritta. They have simply portrayed the emotions through abhinaya as required: simple and naturalistic hastas and eye movements. Geeta Sirisha starts with the baby, its life revolving around its mother, and then leaving her protective cocoon to go to school. Radhika Shetty takes it from there to show childhood, with all its mischief and play, and going to school, fighting with peers, playing sports, trying music and then taking up dance as an interest to pursue. Gowri Sagar, with her huge kohled eyes, very eloquently emoted an adolescent who worries about her looks and envies her friends for their freedom to cut their hair or wear lipstick. Despite the restrictions on these things, the adolescent still gets her freedom from her mother in the form of a cycle. Here again, she makes the choice of wanting to dance and pursuing it, and it ends at courtship. Prathibha Ramaswamy picks it up from there and the courtship continues to friendship and marriage, household bickering and chores, having a baby, looking after the infant and then making the choice of wanting the child to learn to dance. This piece ends at the baby growing up into a bride who’s being married off. Deepak Kumar, in the last piece, begins with the marriage of the daughter. Deepak portrays the father getting pictures taken with his daughter, remembering the times he had spent with her, and in the present, being neglected by his children. As he visits his daughter, he realizes that his ultimate passion is his music. The five segments were well-connected by segues in which each dancer uses the last dancer’s last gesture. The dancers and musicians have all worked hard to create engaging portraits in their limited spaces, and the editing by Vinay Datta is well done. An interesting watch.
The link to watch it is https://shaale.com/live/sensesoflife

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