Tag Archives: Dance

Crystal Ballerina

Hope is a crystal ballerina on a floor of jagged rocks.

Wickedjewel

Image via Wikipedia

Luminescent, graceful and poised
On the verge of death
Right where she came from

Reverb10.20: Things I Didn’t Get Around To Doing

I considering quitting but with this post I’ve made it to two-thirds of the way and it’d be a pity to stop now, wouldn’t it? So here goes today’s Reverb10.

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance

What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

(Author: Jake Nickell)

Very quickly, off the top of my head, things I didn’t manage to do this year that I could (and possibly should) have done:

  • Followed a consistent exercise schedule
  • Learnt to dance (salsa)
  • Baked
  • Grown a herb garden (I did manage a couple of basil plants and one ajwain)
  • Gone on a trek
  • Visited Vasai and other nature-rich spots in this city
  • Moved out
  • Learnt (again) to drive
  • Painted a mural in my room or on the wall outside my window

Conversations

Some conversations are traps, some are escapes

Some are tunnels leading into dark corners
Some are treasure hunts turning up duds
Some are potholes ending in pots of gold

Some are mere rituals
Some are verbal dances

But only sometimes, are they communication.

Ideart: Kathakali

I’m fascinated by Indian designs, motifs and art forms. Such vibrant colour! Such dazzling variety! I did a set of pieces called ‘Tandav’ using motifs and images from Indian dance forms. Sadly enough I didn’t think to take pictures back then and most of those garments have been worn out and discarded.

Kathakali (for the uninitiated) is a classical dance form from Kerala. The movements are small and detailed, all in the eyes and fingers. The costumes, especially for the men are the most delightful part of the dance. The make-up and costume apparantly take upto 6 hours to don. I was fascinated by the phlethora of colours on the Kathakali costume. This is my tribute to this grand art.

I used a plain black terrycot vest. It was a few years old and unused because it was too broad for me and the fabric wasn’t the soft, clingy variety that would look good, loose. It turned out to be perfect for holding an elaborate, heavy paint picture and the black background was just what I needed to offset all the colours. Black is the one colour that you won’t find in a traditional Hindu costume so it brought out the other colours really well.

I looked up a number of photographs of  Kathakali costumes before settling on this design. Instead of a complete costume as I had originally planned, I decided to concentrate on only the face since I felt the detailing of jewellery and make-up was a masterpiece in itself. My painting is a close-up of just the face of a Kathakali dance hero. The final result was a mixture of several different costumes that I saw.

The painting looks very elaborate but was actually very simple to execute. The lines were clean, I didn’t need to use any shading and the drama in the piece comes from the vibrant colours.

I outlined the face with a sliver of soap. The outline took several tries before I could get it to be perfectly symmetrical and even then I did make one side slightly larger. The thing about fabric paints is that you never erase, you  just paint over or improvise, which is what I did here. The curve on the right of the face was actually smoothened out by painting over with Fevicryl no.02 Black. Okay, I cheated. 🙂

The bottom piece is Fevicryl no.27 White. I refrained from using silver (even though it would catch the light well) because I wanted to retain the authenticity of the image. The jewellery was  Fevicryl no.352 Pearl Metallic Gold and for the sapphires, I used  Fevicryl no.32 Cerulean Blue. I had actually used plain red for the jewels but it didn’t look as impressive, especially since the swirls on the headpiece were the same colour, so I painted over with the metallic range.

Initially I had thought I’d leave the eyebrows and kohl edging unpainted since the background was black. However after finishing the rest of the piece, those areas looked dull (on account of the shiny dry paint) so I finished them up with  Fevicryl no.02 Black. I also outlined every border between two colours in the same black. This makes the colours stand out better and should be used only when shading is not used.

Incidentally I painted this piece when I was nearing the end of my colour stock so I also used the opportunity to clear out the little remaining paint that I had in most of my bottles. Hence there are some uneven splashes of colour here and there that are not duplicated elsewhere (because I ran out of that shade!). I think it adds to the vibrancy of the piece without any one colour making a statement in itself. I wanted the facial green and white edging to be the central focus.

The one tricky bit was the face itself. Having finished the big areas of colour, I was left with a bright piece which did not quite look human. Adding lines on a sketch of a face is always risky since it can make your subject look old. I used a hairfine brush to add a few strokes for nose. The laughlines were an afterthought and I actually drew them too long which made the face look pulled down. So I corrected by painting over with the facial green. A couple of spots on the right corner of the face and little dash under the lower lip made it seem more human.

Since the vest was still too big for me, with gaping, wide armholes, I teamed this up with a bright green FabIndia shirt. The shirt itself was an impulse buy and I didn’t quite know what to wear it with since the cut was too severe for casualwear and the colour too bright for office. Since only the sleeves are visible, it matched the green face paint of the dancer well. I’ve always worn this with classic blue straight-fit jeans but I daresay straight black pants could add a slightly more evening-formal look. If I was feeling upto going all gypsy, I’d wear this over a flowing skirt.

kathakali1

(If you like this piece, watch for Desert Dancers, another other Tandav piece that I’ll write about, shortly)

SeriesTandav

Garment: Sleeveless waist-length vest

Material: Terrycot

Background colour: Black

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.27 White
  • Fevicryl no.o2 Black
  • Fevicryl no.32 Cerulean Blue
  • Fevicryl no.352 Pearl Metallic Gold
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Green

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

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If you liked this post, also see:

Other Indian designs at Kolam and Desert Dancers.

Katy And I

My school had an interesting way of encouraging children to read. An annual Book Fair was held every year in a couple of the classrooms. After school-hours, parents coming to pick up their kids could buy those books. It was a much anticipated event for me and I’d go and look over the books during my lunch break and go back tell my mother about what was on offer. A few days later, I might be surprised with one of the books I mentioned or perhaps she’d come and look at the books with me and then decide to buy something. Those are my earliest memories of browsing.

In the later years, as the school board got marketing-savvy, they’d also visit each classroom and display a few choice books and talk about them – a promotion of sorts. By the time I got to secondary school, I had discovered the vast library my school owned and was a regular there, matronly (scary) librarian notwithstanding. But the Book Fair was still a special event.

At the end of the year, would be the annual day when various dances, songs and recitals were put up for the benefit of the parents. And at the end was the long-drawn out prize distribution where children were rewarded for good academic performance, winning scholarships but also sports victories as well as cultural activities. I had the pleasure of walking up the dais a few times in my twelve-year long school career, for a few scattered academic wins and once for a music prize.

The annual day of my third standard yielded the first prize in the singing competition for my rendition of ‘My Favorite Things’. It was my first time on that dais. As I nervously shook hands with the school Father, he smiled and handed me the certificate. Attached under it, was a gift-voucher redeemable at the next Book Fair. I would learn the next year, when I walked that dais again to get an academic certificate, that all the prizes included a Book Fair voucher.

When the Fair came along, mum and I walked down the stacks of books on desks and as we came up to the teacher’s desk, I put down a heavy bound book and my mother handed over the voucher. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was the proud owner of the kind of book I had only seen in pictures. It had a solid navy-blue leather bound cover on which was embossed in gold letters,

Katy front

Hamlyn Classics

What Katy Did
and
What Katy Did at School

Susan Coolidge

The text was bordered by gold lines and edged with pictures of trees. I thought it was beautiful. The spine had the title and author’s name in smaller typeface, crowned with the same tree motif. I fell in love with the book instantly.

It actually was over a year before I got down to actually reading it. I was too scared to breathe on it till then but the fine-stroked pictures in it won me over and I dove right into the story. The adventures of a motherless, lively 12-year-old girl, eldest of six siblings kept me amused for many long hours.

Katy was only one of the many books that I had the privilege of growing up with, as my parents kept me well-supplied with good books. Owing to Mumbai’s space constraints however, my father was also equally strict that some books should be disposed off every year to make place for the new ones. I dreaded the annual book-clearing as much as I looked forward to the Book Fair.

The books that I had outgrown were removed and given to the raddiwalla. I was required to do the sorting myself, after which one of my parents would inspect my shelf and tell me that I needed to get rid of more, else I’d never have place to stock anymore. There were many accusations and tearful confrontations and books were handed over with a heavy-heart.

Katy resisted the clearing attempts of a number of years, my parents also yielding probably due to its beautiful binding (they are book-lovers too, after all). When it finally made it to the pile, I sneaked out of bed in the night and retrieved it – two years in a row.

Finally, the summer that I was twelve, the same age that Katy was at the start of the book, I finally sighed and gave up the fight. Katy went out of the door that day with a pile of books that were deemed too young for a soon-teenager. I didn’t sleep too well that night and was restless all of the next day.

Two days later, I couldn’t stand it anymore and went down to the raddiwalla’s shop in a frantic bid to buy back Katy. To my utter dismay, it had been sold already while the rest of my collection still lay in the same neat stack in one corner of the shop. If I had a best friend or a blog in those days, I would have ranted and raved all day.

I think Katy was special to me for a lot of reasons. There was of course, the fact that in a way, it was the first book that I really earned for myself. Then there was its beautiful hardbound leather cover, its striking pictures and each chapter beginning with old English lettering. And finally there was Katy herself. The book was about a girl, with a very different world around her, than mine. But inside, she felt so much like me, with her grand intentions that often came to nothing, her bright ideas distracted by momentary mischief and silliness and the mistakes she made. Yes, Katy was special.

I would come to realize just how special only in the years to come as I faced some of my own personal challenges, had my own little victories. I did read the sequel called ‘What Katy did next’ borrowed from the school library. But it was a paperback with a coloured cover and didn’t impact me all that much.

There must have been some kind of divine connection or perhaps my longing for my beloved book was so strong that – would you believe it – I got it back!! After I finished school, I took to haunting the raddiwala’s shop often. I had always known that his shop was a treasure-trove of books but till then I had been dependent on my mother to pick out good books and pay for them. As my pocket-money and my geographical boundaries increased, so did my browsing.

And one wonderful, brilliant, lovely day, I found my beloved Katy sitting atop a pile of magazines. It was inconceivable that the book should come back and be spotted by me but it did happen. I opened the leather cover lovingly, after all those years and sure enough, on the page leaf was my name and the date of purchase, albeit crossed out by a strange hand. On the facing page was the rubber stamp of a bookshop in another part of the city. My Katy had gone on an adventure and come home to me.

Katy spine

I just finished reading it again last week and as always, it kept me engrossed. This precious navy blue leather-bound volume will stay one of my treasured possessions and will be passed on to my children or bequeathed in my will to someone I love.

~O~O~O~O~O~

Friends of Books - Library that delivers and I connect with bloggers at BlogAdda.com

This post won the ‘My Oldest Book, its Memories‘ contest on BlogAdda. And the prizes were these.

Inspiration

I found this in a round of spring-cleaning, scribbled on a sheet of foolscap paper and dated 20 February 2002. This is from my character-building days as a back-bencher, doodling and scribbling away my time. All of us (at least the non-achiever types like me) had our own versions of ‘The Wall’; this one is mine. I know it’s on the verbose side, but go easy on me, I was younger, I was learning to write and what the heck..I was bored. 🙂

Fresh sheet of paper – hairthin lines stretching across in severe uniformity
It begins at my fingertips
That quiver…the slightest tremor
Oh, that urge to reach out and touch the untouched
and leave my imprint on it.

I remember this from three
the tempting wall, the gleaming new desk
the forbidden blackboard…and my own face
Mud and crayongs and food and chalk and graphite and ink

Sophistication came with age
Now I sully sheets of paper with ink
and still my own face with pigmented chemicals
Not forgetting those camouflaged moments…
…a footprint on a clean sidewalk or a freshly washed floor
scratches on the wall

Ah, that irresistible urge,
The allure…the undeniable craving
to smear the uniform
to taint the pure
to colour the plain
to fill the space with motions of me…

In the violent outfling of my arms to disturb the air – I call it dance
The soaring crescendos of vibrating sound waves
The scratches of my stylus on this carte blanc
I succumb to the urge
give in to the temptation – from white flow the colours
I reach out and create…

I am inspired.

Salsa With A Stranger

Couples floated across the dance floor, flowing over each other.

Someone said,

“Up close with a stranger. You sure?”

She said,

“I want to learn.”

He smiled.

They were the last couple on the floor. Melting into each other. Then the music stopped. She walked off the floor, leaving him standing.

The lesson was over.

Wish-List

Ideasmith, age 6

Dear Santa Claus,

Will you bring me a present too? I am not a Christian. But I say prayers in English in school and I know about Jesus Christ and Moses. I read about them in the Bible stories book. When I go home, I pray in Hindi or Tamil or Sanskrit and I also know about Murugan and Shiva and Rama. I read in Amar Chitra Katha.

Please bring me more books. Please make mummy like comics so she will let me read them.

Thank you.
Ideasmith, age 13

Dear God,

Sometimes I think I must be mad. But you will take care of me if I am, won’t you?

I know I’ll never be pretty but I wish at least one person would think I was.

Ideasmith, age 16

Dear Me,

You are my best friend…my only real friend. Thank you for holding on for so long. This too shall pass and you will come out of it stronger. Just keep the faith.

Still I wish someone understood.

Ideasmith, age 21

Dear X,

Won’t you re-consider? Remember our old times? Please remember…because I’ll die if you don’t. I don’t want to think of a life without you.

I never wanted anyone or anything as much as I want us.

Ideasmith, age 24

Fate,

Once and for all, there will be no more mistakes. Never again, never EVER again will a man hurt you. This is the last of it.

He will pay.

There’s no hurry. Life is long enough for paybacks.

I want justice.

Ideasmith, aged 26

This year I want to:
Eat healthy
Exercise
Take dancing lessons
Start the novel
Find love

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Twenty years is a long enough time. From asking other people to make my dreams comes true to fulfilling my own wishes. There is a difference, though.

It is the difference between faith and confidence.

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