Apeksha Niranjan
Apeksha Niranjan

Apeksha Niranjan opens about her latest Bharatanatyam presentation, ‘Nayanam’

As she gets ready for her show in Delhi today, we had a quick conversation about her performance, the craze of classical art forms among younger generations, and more

Ace Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Apeksha Niranjan will perform for the first time in Delhi at Indian Habitat Centre. She'll present her latest production Nayanam, for the first time, at Indian Habitat Centre, Delhi, today. As she gets ready for her show, we had a quick conversation about her performance, the craze of classical art forms among younger generations, and more. Excerpts:

Q

What are you performing at the Indian Habitat Centre? Please share at length.

A

At the Indian Habitat Centre, I will be performing Nayanam, a piece where the eyes take centre stage, expressing emotions and telling the story. Nayanam, which translates to "eyes" in Sanskrit, is a thematic exploration of the diverse emotions and expressions conveyed through the eyes.

In my performance, I highlight the importance of the eyes as windows to the soul, showing their ability to define beauty, communicate feelings, and enhance storytelling in dance. In Bharatanatyam, the eyes are crucial, serving as a powerful means of expression that transcends language, race, and culture. Through Nayanam, I will illustrate how the eyes act as a bridge for communication, conveying a range of emotions from joy and love to sadness and longing.

Speaking about the inspiration behind Nayanam, I said, "Eyes are more than just organs of sight; they are gateways to our deepest emotions. They have the power to captivate, to express the unspoken, and to immerse the audience in the heart of the narrative."

Apeksha Niranjan
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Q

What kind of pieces do you prefer choreographing?

A

I love to choreograph Abhinaya pieces. Especially the ones that have depth and are layered with meaning.

Q

What went into choreographing Nayanam?

A

I believe the language of the eyes is universal, transcending boundaries and connecting with audiences on a profound level. This inspired me to create a piece focused on the eyes, aiming to communicate emotions and narratives without the need for words.

As I began conceptualizing Nayanam, I delved into the various facets of the eyes, exploring their expressive potential. Through this exploration, the essence of Nayanam gradually emerged, evolving into a powerful and evocative piece.

Q

Do you think younger generations still take interest in classical art forms?

A

Yes, I believe younger generations still take an interest in classical art forms. They are intelligent and understand the importance of our heritage. It's essential for us to make these art forms relatable and connect with them on their level. By doing so, we can ensure that classical traditions continue to thrive and resonate with contemporary audiences.

Q

You perform across nations. How is Indian Classical music or dance forms welcomed abroad? How are the audience reactions like?

A

Audiences, including kids, are captivated by the richness of the costumes, the intricate jewellery, and the full-body involvement with the music. They are fascinated by how the feet, hands, and expressions must move in rhythm with the music. The audience loves the performances and appreciates them even more when I incorporate music from their region, like Polish folk music or Gregorian chants. This blend of cultural elements creates a unique and engaging experience that resonates deeply with them. They enjoy dances where emotions are expressed and evoked. They also love the mythological stories shown.

Q

You started with Kathak, when did you realise that Bharatanatyam is your calling?

A

I initially started with Kathak and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it was only when I began learning Bharatanatyam that I realised my true passion lay in this art form. The precise body lines, the expressive eye movements, the rich storytelling, and the captivating Carnatic music all drew me towards Bharatanatyam, making me fall in love with it completely.

Q

Upcoming recitals.

A

After Nayanam, I am travelling to Poland for a performance titled Nrityasandhya in Warsaw. Next, I am participating in the Buddha dance Festival in Seoul. I have choreographed a special performance on Lord Buddha titled Buddha-The Awakened One. I am also performing Nayanam at the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre at The Embassy of India, in Seoul. Post that I have two Bharatanatyam workshops in Seoul. In July, I will perform at the sacred Balaji temple in Tirumala. In August, I have a performance and workshop in Coimbatore and in November I have a performance in Paris, France.

Q

Do you believe in dance therapies to have healing properties?

A

Yes, I do believe in dance therapies having healing properties. Dance therapy can be incredibly therapeutic, helping individuals express emotions, relieve stress, and improve overall mental and physical well-being. The rhythmic movements, emotional expressions, and connection to music can create a powerful healing experience. Dance is also a form of meditation.

Q

What do you think about Bharatanatyam's future in India?

A

Bharatanatyam, with its rich expressions, rhythmic patterns, storytelling, and soulful music, will always touch the hearts of its audience. It is akin to the sacred river Ganga, holy and perpetually flowing. The responsibility of preserving the purity and essence of this art form lies with the new generation. By learning and upholding its traditions, they can ensure that Bharatanatyam continues to thrive and inspire for generations to come.

Q

What was your most memorable performance?

A

My most memorable performance was during a recital in Warsaw, where I performed a piece set to Gregorian chants, which are traditionally sung in churches. It was the first time I presented this piece, and I was a little worried about the experiment. However, it turned out to be an incredibly moving experience as some members of the audience had tears in their eyes while watching the performance. Their emotional response made this performance unforgettable for me.

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Q

Do you support incorporating classical mudras with all sorts of songs and performers, even without learning the art form?

A

Bharatanatyam has its own language of hand gestures, known as Hast Mudras, which should be applied only after acquiring thorough knowledge and training. While incorporating classical mudras into various performances can be innovative, it is essential that performers understand and respect the art form's depth and significance. Without proper training, the true essence and integrity of the classical dance can be compromised.

Q

What's your idea of Bollywood using classical dance pieces?

A

Integrating classical dance into Bollywood songs can create a beautiful fusion, but it depends significantly on the song's requirements. The meaning of the lyrics, the type of music, and the overall context are crucial factors in determining how to incorporate classical elements effectively. It is essential for the choreographer to uphold the dignity and authenticity of the classical dance form while ensuring it harmonises well with the contemporary style of Bollywood.

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