Sep 3, 2017

Dance to my souls content - Essence of Shringaar, an important element of a dance recital

Indian Classical Dance is a cultural heritage of the country. Dating back to the times of Chola rule, performing arts formed an integral part of entertainment for the dynasties that emerged and built us this rich repertoire of heritage. This also gave rise to the aesthetics on presentation that builds the mood at the performing event. In dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Shringaar Rasa is a critical aspect of presentation to the audience.

Shringaar & Rasa, the 2 inter-dependencies 

The literal meaning of the sanskrit word 'Rasa' is that which is being tasted OR enjoyed. Like expressed by Anjali Nandan in her blog post on 'navarasa', she quotes & says:
"Mr V.P Dhananjayan in his book called “A Dancer on Dance” says Rasa means that which is being tasted or enjoyed. Hence the word Rasika is employed to denote connoisseurs. Now, the question might be asked whether Rasa comes from Bhava or Bhava from Rasa. Bhava means, that which becomes (bh00, bhav, i.e., to become), so Bhava becomes Rasa. But Rasa does not become Bhava. There is also this complementary effect on the dancer or actor.Every Rasa corresponds to a particular Bhava. The Natyshastra has carefully described the Bhavas used to create Rasa. Every Rasa is identified with a specific colour for the use in performing arts."
Hence this builds the stepping stone to presentation layer of the rasa bhava through shringaar. Shringaar, a sanskrit word, literally means 'make-up'. Sringara is one of the nine rasas, usually translated as erotic love, romantic love, or as attraction or beauty. Rasa means "flavour", and the theory of rasa is the primary concept behind classical Indian arts. Therefore, as a performer of the art form it is critical for the artist to first and foremost attract his or her audience through her physical appearence which is the first act of shringaar rasa. To be captivated with the performer itself before emersing oneself into the performance that abhinaya, music, stage and the overall aesthetics at a rangmancha OR stage offers.

The artists wardrobe, a world of attraction that begins a romantic new journey!

Dance is devotion. It helps me express my desires, allows me to emote my being and most importantly connects me to the divine. As a child when I danced I did it just because I loved it so much. All I liked about dancing were the colorful attires and waited for a time when I could adorn those beautiful jewelry for a stage performance. Today, as I have matured through the years of training from my Guru, I have also built my essential set of belongings that I use for my performances.

As a performer of this art form, wearing a well fitted attire that accentuates the mudra's and adds to the grace of the performance is critical. Choice of color, one that stands out against the backdrop and one that compliments the 'rasa' being performed play an important role. While most performers are experimenting a lot more with the choice of color for the stage it is recommended that keeping in mind the aesthetic on visual representation be the topmost in mind. In my case, I try and stay with as close to the traditional approach as possible.

As a performing artist, the choice of jewelry that accentuates the performers personality again is critical. The original Temple Jewelry is always the first choice but a very expensive one. However, the imitation variety have flooded the market with many innovative designs. My personal favorites continue to stay the oxidized matted variety with the use of kemp stones (red & green) and a dash of pearls. Originally the temple jewels were studded with ruby, emerald, uncut diamond and sometimes pearls. The original temple jewelery is the rarest of rare finds and is now heirloom jewels which one just cant buy. However, many Indian Jewelers are innovating and have launched lines of temple jewelery models in the recent past which are being bought by numerous consumers. Here is a glimpse of some of my collection that I have built over years.


For more visual delights follow me on Instagram: @Sensuous2Spiritual OR @GracefulPrance 

Make-up and alankaar:
A dancer spends hours getting ready for her role. Her hair needs the perfect braiding to hold onto all the shringaar she adorns which are often very heavy and chances are that they may fall off during her performance. She takes extra care to ensure that her hair is sturdy enough to last through her energetic performance.
Her facial make-up add to the ahaara rasa of the performance. She emotes various bhava's and hence the eye's and facial features need to be accentuated with the right amount of highlights. This is one time taking schedule as she needs to work on her base makeup which helps her contour her facial features for shrapness. Then it is followed by the ritual of eye make-up where apart from contouring the eye with color make-up, the kohl lining is the most critical step. Both for the eyebrow as well as the eye relief work which is where the tricks of the artist play a very important role.
Finally when she is done with all her shringaar its time for the aalta that helps define the hand mudra's and accentuates the performers graceful movements.

Thus, it is evident that if you aspire to become a performer in this world of art you need to equally patient and hard working when it comes to getting performance ready. Shringaar is all about self love and yes, it is the finishing touches to the preparedness of a seasoned performer.

More blog reads on Indian Classical Dance will follow through the next few months. Meanwhile, do read through some of these related posts on S2S:

Stay tuned for more and until then leave me with you comments. It could be about your own experiences, recommendations or simply some kind words that will shower love for Sensuous2Spiritual! :)


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