“I’ve got tickets!” I screamed in excitement over the phone to my friend in Abu Dhabi. No, not tickets to the ball game or cricket game, but tickets to watch UK choreographer Akram Khan performance.
For each mermerising Kathak step he took, I retreated way back into my own childhood days of training in two Indian dance styles – no not Bollywood or Bhangra, but Bharatanatyam and Kuchupudi. I still remember how I hated dance lessons; I thought it was a waste of time. Glad to share, I don’t hold that view anymore. While the days of dancing and performing are over, I still manage to stay excited when other talented performers and dancing artistes take the stage – every dance step of theirs emerging with my own dancing nostalgic memories.
While I attribute the rediscovery of the meaning of Indian dance through the Akram dance company performance, it was Raju Alexis’ photo of Dubai based Indian dancer Shereen Saifuddin that re-ignited my dance. Shereen posed for the lively photographer in her dance costumes in unlikely places such as Dubai’s Safa park. I had previously introduced Raju’s brilliant photography in an earlier blog post.
I got to interview Shereen who is preparing for her solo Mohiniyattam performance Lāsya, backed by a 5 piece live orchestra.
Q: When you were photographed in Safa Park, what did you feel?
A: I actually like shooting outdoors. It is a lot more dynamic than a studio shoot. The shoot at Safa Park was around 4pm and the park was practically deserted so there were not many people watching us, although the heat was a killer though. There was another instance where I had a shoot at Jumeirah beach on a weekend and boy, was it packed! It does feel strange when people mill around to watch what is going on. It can be hard but you just have to remove yourself from the surrounding and just get on with it.
Q: Why did you choose Mohiniyattam over other traditional Indian dance forms?
A: Mohiniyattam is the classical dance form of Kerala (which is where I am from). I studied Bharatanatyam for many years before I started with Mohiniyattam. There is a lot more scope for abhinaya (expression) in Mohiniyattam. As a dance form, it is much less explored than Bharatanatyam, which is what initially attracted me to learn it.
Q: What was the feeling of working with Raju Alexis of EyeSpice like?
A: Raju is very easy to work with. I have known him for many years now and we share a great rapport. He loves experimenting and totally enjoys what he does. Whenever we shoot, he doesn’t treat me like a subject. He likes to discuss the shot and keeps me involved throughout the process. I really like that about him as a photographer.
Q: Why dancing? Why not other performing arts?
A: I love Indian classical music – I am learning to play a traditional string instrument called veena. I also do a wee bit of theatre (I am part of a Dubai based amateur theatre group). But dancing is what I love most.
Q: If you had all the money and the time in the world, what is the absolute one thing that you’d want to do?
A: I would travel and learn!
So if you happen to be in Chennai, India with nothing to do on Saturday, the 30th of October, please do take the chance to see Shereen perform. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
And here questions of type such if honestly strike me not much as I wrote everything higher. It is visible you simply you don’t want to read all this. As my parrot does.