BENGALURU: It is not easy to direct 4,600 dancers from 45 countries, to present a drama that includes 30 styles. That task fell on the shoulders of 27-year-old Bangalorean Srividya Varchaswi at Art of Living’s World Culture Festival, conducted in New Delhi early last month.
Srividya directed The Cosmic Rhythm which borrowed from Bharatnatyam, Manipuri, Odissi, Argentinian Tango, Samba and Hiphop among other forms. She was also the cultural director of the World Culture Festival 2016 in which over 37,000 artists from across the globe participated.
What was most unique about steering Cosmic Rhythm’s production was the method of collaboration. All the choreography and practice sessions were done via video conferencing and all the dancers performed together without a single live rehearsal.
“Initially it was going to be just seven Indian classical dance forms. But artistes from the other countries were so keen to contribute. So in the end, we had 30 different forms,” says the dancer-choreographer who who took to dancing when she was only four years.
Srividya trained under Uma Tilak from the Pandanallur lineage of Bharatnatyam. She performed her arangetram when she turned 11 and completed her Visharad (graduation) from Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya. She trained in Kathak for two years and attended workshops on Latin American dancing.
She has created a workshop, Navarasa, that combines dance, meditation and expression to improve communication. She also leads the organising committee of Nritya Sadhana, a workshop for dance lovers with legends like Padma Vibhushan recipient Birju Maharaj. She choreographed The Rhythm Within, an extravagant performance staged at Lincoln Centre on International Yoga Day last year.
The Cosmic Rhythm is about the journey of a seeker, the need for an inner awakening. The 22-minute drama was also on creation, how life began and the seeker’s yearning for the infinite.
She says meditation helped her with the Herculean task. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who taught her how to be a ‘humble leader’, is herrole model. “It is difficult to get two artistes to perform the same dance form together,” she says. “But we had 4,600 from all over the world. There could have been a million ways this could have gone wrong. But nothing did. All credit goes to teamwork and practising meditation.”
Srividya, a topper from Fergusson College with a Major in Economics, has represented India at prestigious youth forums, including the Goldman Sachs Global Youth Leaders Forum at New York in 2008.
Even as a child, she was keen on social activism. “Most activists stressed,” says the AoL trainer. “How can you bring peace if you are so distressed?”
Courtesy: The New Indian Express