Samhita – Communion of Minds.
Bharatanatyam dancer Divya Devaguptapu and Carnatic music violinist-vocalist Ranjani Ramakrishnan collaborated for this production that was held in the United States in late July this year.
The two artistes have bonded for some time on performances and this recital was an expression of the artistic collaboration.
In this column, Divya Devaguptapu and Ranjani Ramakrishnan share their thoughts on this collaboration.
Ranjani and I share a bond that goes beyond our individual technical prowess as a musician and dancer.
We worked together for the first time in Bhaavaanubhuti (a padam only concert) where she played the violin. Our connect was evident during the very first rehearsal. She understood every emotion and nuance in my dance, and I understood every note of her music – and our respective art forms became seamless extensions of the others!
We connect as artistes who share a common vision of art – art that is passionate, that pushes boundaries and most importantly that is true from the heart!
We are colleagues on and off stage, but we are also friends who connect through art at a spiritual plane; sans ego. Neither of us project our individual skills as artistes.
We put in our passionate best simply because of our shared belief in something larger and Samhita happened – organically! It was never planned.
Ranjani would share with me sample recordings of her practice sessions and I would respond with a video of my interpretation of it through dance. We casually composed pieces together that took shape into choreographies where the dance and music seamlessly came together but weren’t the only elements in the dialogue.
Our holistic approach and passion towards all the aspects the make up the music and dance including the philosophy, metaphors, poetry and aesthetic sensibilities together informed and guided the way we responded to each other.
Our connect and understanding of each others art in specific made this dialogue come alive each time we practiced. Samhita then became an organic culmination as well as a formal inauguration of this dialogue.
Ranjani Ramakrishnan's Notes
A couple of years ago, I had an intense desire to not only want to know more about the art form-dance, but also this fiery urge to dance...
It was a deep stabbing in my being when I felt like time had just flown by me and I had not paid much attention to this art, though I had been intermittently playing alongside artists of this art form, for two decades. The connect between music and dance, was very evident to me.
I saw dance as light and music as sound.
This is exactly when Divya entered my artistic plane as if to fulfill my desire and we came together to present Bhavanubhuti in 2017. I saw my desire taking shape in her being. I even asked her to teach me basic steps, wanting to start out afresh.
However, my desire to dance, transmuted itself into Divya, when I saw every note manifest in her as the physical expression of a musical note I played. It was a stunning revelation and with it, my desire to dance vanished - I saw Divya as my instrument to learn more about the art form and allowed my desire to flow into hers and learn as I watched her inhabit her space.
Divya became an extension of the music I saw and my music became the dance that she heard and swayed to. Who lead and who followed didn't matter anymore - rather, we didn’t feel like two people doing two different things.
We became aural and visual representations of one form. We couldn't say, which movement caused the other. Did her physical movement cause my fingers to move along the finger board of my violin or the intonations of my vocal chords or did my aural dance cause hers?
We had no boundaries between us. Her only boundary was the physical space available to her to move around and mine was the frequency range my vocal chords could handle or my fingers could traverse on the instrument.
Divya would share silent Abhinaya pieces that I added music and emotion to, per my interpretation and likewise, I would share music that I sang with a particular emotion, to which she would do Abhinayam and we would compare our thoughts and ideas.