Acclaimed dancer Rukmini Vijayakumar has trained in various dance forms, including bharatanatyam, ballet and modern dance.
The director of Bangalore-based dance company Raadha Kalpa, she has toured worldwide with her various productions. The multi-talented artist is also recognised as an actor on the Indian stage and screen.
She will be in conversation with TV celebrity and bharatanatyam practitioner Vena Ramphal at a special event curated by Akademi South Asian Dance UK at Asia House in London on July 12, 6:45 pm.
Eastern Eye caught up with Vijayakumar to discuss all things dance.
Tell us, what first connected you to dance? I think my mother was the first connection to dance and art, at large. From a very young age, she took me to watch performances and enabled me to experience art and music.
What, in particular, connected you to bharatanatyam? Bharatanatyam is the first dance form I was exposed to and the form I have spent most of my years training in. It has become second nature to me now. Also, growing up in an Indian family that talked about spirituality and philosophy made me inclined to bharatanatyam, which finds its basis in these two concepts. I like its versatility and that it has a very large movement vocabulary to work with.
How do you look back on your dance journey? With fondness and gratitude.
What has been your most memorable performance? It is difficult to choose, but I will never forget the moment I felt rage on stage. I had never experienced the emotion before and suddenly it overpowered me in a moment during a perform-ance. I could feel the heat rise and my voice changed pitch. It was one of the most overwhelming moments I have had. It was a breakthrough of sorts and has informed my work since.
Tell us, what is the secret of a good performance? A good amount of rest and sleep, a lot of practice, the right food, technical articulacy and some quiet moments to introspect.
How much are you looking forward to your London in conversation event? I have only performed in London as part of the opera Sukanya last year. This will be my first appearance in front of the London audience as an individual artist, so I am very happy to be there on July 12. I will be sharing some of my ideas and perspectives on my approach to bharatanatyam, my creative process and some small bits of dancing.
What do you think is the relevance of Indian classical dance today in the global context? The vocabulary of Indian classical dance has changed for centuries and continues to evolve, just as all art should. As it changes, it continues to be relevant to the world that it exists in. It has adapted into its fold, content, gesture and movement vocabulary of the current aesthetic in every generation. As it adapts, it has retained a large portion of the intention of its origins and discarded just as much. I believe the preservation of tradition can exist alongside creative exploration, not in lieu of it. So, if we, as artists, create in the present moment, with our thoughts of today, we will continue to make it relevant at every point in time.
What are your predictions for Indian classical dance? I am not certain. I have no predictions even for my own dance. It would be presumptuous to make any for dance, at large.
Today, what inspires you? Every moment brings new inspirations from all directions. If I am to answer what inspired me today, it would be the sunlight that I felt while I sat in front of a water body at lunch; the water that was sprayed on me from it and the music that was playing in my ears. I heard a story, I saw a song, I felt a death and realised loss. I write my experiences down, translate them into dance in the studio and sometimes they come together months afterward in the form of or as a part of a piece.
Why do you love dance? Why would I not love dance? Dance is love. Who cannot love, love itself?