Shivashakti – Interview

Shiva Shakti is a dance production conceived and brought into fruition by Shrikant Subramaniam and Aruna Iyengar. Although both dancers come from a South Indian background, both are living and carving a creative space for themselves outside India. Shrikant in the UK and Aruna in Australia.  Both perform two different dance styles, Bharathanatyam and Kuchipudi.

INTERVIEW WITH ARUNA IYENGAR AND SHRIKANT SUBRAMANIAM

It is Saturday morning.  On schedule I am at the photo shoot session for the production of Shiva Shakti.  I see  the lass from Sydney and the lad from Yorkshire busy posing for the photographer.

An executive from JP Morgan,  who has been able to successfully find her creative space in her limited spare time, Aruna Iyengar,  has adorned her traditional dance costume looking bright and excited about the production.

Shrikant Subramaniam, is indeed a rare sight.  Rare because he is a young male bharathanatyam dancer who has chosen this line of work unlike his fellow peers. His world of theatre, dance, multiculturalism and anthropological studies is indeed a challenging vast inspiring world. I see Shrikant standing quite non chalantly, smiling as only Shiva would, clad in blue bright silk dhoti with a winning smile and amazing eyes.

How they met ? 

Aruna:  Believe it or not, it was initially through facebook that I met one of his family members who later approached me about Shrikant. Shrikant and I just met three days ago.

Shrikant: Yes, this is my first trip to Australia. When I first spoke with Aruna about some collaborative work, her response and enthusiasm matched mine. I am looking forward to coming again and having many more programmes in Australia I hope.

Gurus 

Aruna: I have learnt Ballet and Calisthenics. I am born in Australia and was initially taught by my mother. I later learnt from Padma Menon who is the direct disciple of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. I have taught in Anandavalli’s school and was part of the Lingalayam Dance Company. I have performed in various productions Kailash Dance Company established in Canberra and with the Lingalayam Dance Academy. Today I run and operate the Shakti School of Dance teaching Kuchipudi to interested and talented youngsters.

Shrikant: I started dancing at the age of five and learnt from Siri Rama, Dr Kanak Rele, Jayalakshmi Eashwar, CV Chandrasekhar.  I have also learnt from Anusha Subramanyam, a direct student of Leela Samson in India. After I moved to the UK in 2005 to study Western Dance Anthropology in Univ of Roehampton, I completed my thesis on male dancing body within the realms of western and eastern philosophies. As a professional dancer I devote my creative space collaborating with various artists from different genres and continue to experiment. I am deeply inspired by Mathew Bourne and find his choreography to be out of the world for male dancers. I have attended many workshops conducted by Richard Alston and Peter Finlay theatre director of Oldwick Theatre Company.

The Confluence 

Aruna : Man and Woman are the dual energies in life.  The masculine and feminine synergize one another, at other times they challenge finally undeniably remain inseparable. The production explores this philosophy that surrounds male personification of Shiva and the female of Parvathi or Shakthi,  interpreted in a spiritual and dynamic way, in the dance item of Ardhanarishwari, half man and half woman.

The concept of Shiva Shakti therefore really resonated with both of us and in my mind the two dance styles shall also accentuate and add to the drama surrounding Shiva which will be presented by Shrikant in the straight and angled Bharathanatyam style and the soft graceful movement of Parvathi shall be embodied in the flowing aspects of Kuchipudi.

Shrikant: After Aruna and I had discussed the concept of Shiva Shakti, what was left was the choice of the music for the dance. Whilst almost all aspects of the production will differ, the one uniting aspect will be the music. Hence the music for all the pieces have been painstakingly selected to showcase our abilities, choreography, strengths and styles.  Definitely many of the traditional composers such as Harikeshanallur Muthiaha Bhagavathar, Muthuswami Dikshidar etc  feature including modern composers such as Swathi Thirunal. Local artists Mohan Ayyar and Sangeetha Ayyar, Janakan Suthathiraraj and Sanjay Ramaswamy have helped with the production of the music.

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