Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran presents new works reflecting her inner dance journey through the Covid pandemic; “IN SEARCH OF INFINITY” will premiere at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, 2022 at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Lodi Estate, New Delhi.
Geeta Chandran used Hindi poet Jai Shankar Prasad-ji’s Beeti Vibhavari Jaag Ri as a powerful metaphor for the dark days of the pandemic that we must put aside, however cautiously we embrace – a brighter future!
The episode of Lord Krishna lifting Govardhan mountain to protect mankind becomes the context for Geeta to explore various nava-rasas in his dance. The dancer says the pandemic has caused her to delve into the deepest recesses of her heart to understand the feelings of grief, wonder, disgust and love. Sanskrit verses from Bilvamangala Swami’s Sri Krishna Karna-amrita shlokam become the libretto for this exploration of music and abhinaya.
Geeta then serenades the goddess in Amba Nilambari, a large composition of Carnatic music by vaggyekara Shri Muthuswami Dikshithar. The compassionate-eyed Goddess who drapes the blue sky like her garment, becomes the beacon of compassion and sustenance.
The pandemic was also where Geeta’s young grandson was growing up, bringing many family joys. Capturing her motherly feelings, Geeta features a beautiful lullaby in which Ma Yashoda narrates the story of Rama while putting little Krishna to sleep. In an epiphanic moment in history, when Sita is abducted by Ravana, baby Krishna, transcending time and space, calls Lakshmana (his brother in his previous incarnation as Ram) to prepare his bow, for he wants call Ravana. This wonderful literary piece by poet Surdas presents the concept of a great philosophy where avataras are bound in memory.
Geeta’s final dance is a call for social tolerance of differences. In a play written by Swami Annamacharya, chief priest of the Tirupati Balaji Temple, the poet calls samdrishti to human beings who can follow different sets of beliefs. All humanity is one, says the poet, as all the Gods are one!
Geeta Chandran says, “The pandemic has deeply affected all performers. As our income depended solely on performance, the drying up of performance opportunities for almost two and a half years paralyzed this community and pushed it into a downward spiral.
I was no exception. My dance studio, which until then had been vibrating daily with hyper-creative activity and student bustle, became eerily quiet. After a brief hiatus of about two weeks, I shook off my boredom and began to reevaluate my blessings. I was there with a slew of incomplete ideas that needed to be brought to life; and I finally had uninterrupted time to tackle these tasks. And so the yoga, the dance and my creative drive culminated during those long, long months that would have seemed endless without my dancing!
And what were the lessons I learned? I recognized that my art was fulfilling and capable of nurturing my soul and saving me from the downward spirals that so many around me were sliding into! And I also realized that my inner landscape was robust enough to keep me busy, creatively busy, feeling fulfilled and happy.
I have reached blissful ground zero within myself, and I thank the pandemic for that. I really tasted eternity.
And so here the pieces that I traveled with during the pandemic are presented live for the first time… the compositions that I worked on during these 30 months. With the support of stellar musicians K. Venkateswaran and Manohar Balatchandirane who were my pandemic co-travellers. Some of them were created for online performance, but here they will be seen in the flesh…”