My mother is fondly addressed as ‘Teacher’ by most; regardless whether students, employees or acquaintances. Over the last 5 decades, she has nurtured thousands of students. I’m always gobsmacked when her students celebrate Mother’s Day more vehemently compared to Teacher’s Day. Even with all the harsh ego-hammering chastisements, they are still able to feel her motherly affection.
But for me, it’s the other way around. I have great reverence to her as a Teacher (Guru). I’m always magnetized by her aptitude and mastery in teaching dance. She can go on and on by teaching for long hours with meraki. Teaching dance can be different from teaching an academic subject. A student can always seek for a tuition teacher if one is weak in a certain subject in school. However, in Indian classical dance, it’s beyond a mere ‘teach-the-body-to-move’ process. The guru makes farther dominance in heart, mind and soul of a disciple. It is the guru who not only shares with you stories from Puranas, but also teaches you to express in the dance form and guides you to merge as one with the divine character. The guru ameliorates you by guiding you on a metanoia journey.
And I’m blessed to have a dance guru who so happen to be my mother!
abunDANCE of LOVE with her guiDANCE,
“Ok…Let’s start!” And the show began at 7.45pm with the Artistic Director instructing the emcee to address the crowd.
I silently waited for my scene in the dressing room. As I sat in prayer, tears started to well up in my eyes. The lugubrious moments I encountered prior to this show flashed through my mind like a film running at high speed.
Tracing back to April… I danced for an hour in India with affliction due to unknowingly freezing my skin with an icepack wrapped around my aching knee.
The pain was further exacerbated with a broken silver anklet that kept piercing into my skin and causing bleeding.
Thereafter, my attempt to puree tomato soup caused me another scar when the hot pottage exploded out of the blender.
Spending needless time on applying scar creams assiduously, I struggled arduously to lose almost 7kg to play the role of a teenager (that’s half of my current age!).
Waiting in anticipation to dress up as Valli donning two costumes; only one arrives from India just 2 days before the show, and that too, requiring major alteration.
So what happened to the other costume? The tailor had forgotten to include it in the shipment; his attempt to send it again using urgent courier service failed! (the parcel reached me only 2 days after the show).
A costume comprising colourful threaded blouse oddly matched with a sequined blue skirt, which I designed in 2015 and stitched for no valid purpose, became my saviour.
The eleventh-hour panics drained me emotionally; I slept the night before the show with a wrecked heart and weary-teary eyes.
“Kamini…are you ready?” An unknown human voice boorishly aborted the flashbacks.
My eyes were still shut, refusing to relinquish solitude. And suddenly I heard my inner voice loud and clear, “Everything that has occurred is related to the BODY. So why are you lamenting about the perishable? Forget the body. Forget the environment. Dance in ONENESS with the Supreme Energy”.
With an awakened mind and rekindled spirit, I walked out of the dressing room to get on stage.
And yes, I performed in emptiness without being bothered about the material ‘Self’, yet deeply immersed in the divine ‘Self’.
I walked back into the dressing room showered with eulogies from the audience. But no word of praise was lucid to me except for the words of my inner voice that kept chanting in my head. I felt liberated, blissful and enlightened!
My sufferings and the inevitable moments I encountered have taught me an invaluable lesson of life. LESS & LESS-ism towards attachment leads to MORE & MORE-ism of Love and Light!
LET GO and LET GOD!
With abunDANCE of LOVE,
Here goes my dance story…
As an artiste who has been practising Bharathanatyam all my life, I have had varied experiences…from spiritual ecstatic moments to bittersweet incidents. I have danced in the state of Ananda (bliss); Oneness with the Supreme. Not realising what and how I danced, I’ve thanked God in tears for that miraculous moment. And I too have danced in terrible pain. My body was injured but no matter what happens the show has to go on as scheduled. So I have masked my pain with jubilant Abhinaya (expression) and pushed myself throughout the dance routine with my willpower, whereafter running backstage and crying in agony.
So why do I still choose to dance?
Fame, glam, awards and titles are part of the artistic or entertainment world. It does make one’s profile look richer and creates a wow-effect for the audience. But I’ve realised a truth that I came here with nothing and I leave without anything. Everything is temporal and so does these glorifications. Well, it feels honoured to be appreciated but I care more for the moments-through-movements. Some of my best memorable moments….during Lipstick production, a number among the audience couldn’t express any words when they met me in the foyer but only hugged me in tears, and I was wished with “God bless you” more than “Congratulations”. In another program in India, a man with a broken leg seated with his crutches was screaming “I feel healed watching you dance” even before I got down from the stage and held his Cross Pendant in his hands and said, “Jesus bless you”. And at the same event, a Muslim woman in Burka ran towards me to hand her baby into my hands and asked me to bless her child.
These are just a few of the many priceless moments that keep me dancing. Only dance can cross borders and connect people with the language of the heart. The dancer is an instrument of God to spread love and joy; I’m grateful to be destined as one. Blessed are those who learn this divine DANCE; even blessed are those who witness this divine DANCE!
I’m never great; Only God that you and I address in different names is great!
With abunDANCE of LOVE,
“About 2 girls were gang raped by a group of 30 men in Kelantan; 6 soldiers remanded over the alleged rape of a 5 year old child in Johor; 13 year old girl raped then assaulted by the alleged rapist’s wife; 15 year old teenager raped his mother while a 42 year old man raped his 69 year old mother- in- law”
These are just some of the stories that have been unfolded in Malaysia last year. However there still many more untold stories that continue to haunt our nation. Unbelievably, the youngest rapist in Malaysia is aged 6! In the first-ever global picture of sexual violence, the respected British medical journal The Lancet, establishes that in the world, 7.2 percent of women of at least 15 years old have suffered sexual violence from a stranger. In Malaysia, from 2005 till July 2014, out of the 28,471 rape cases that have been reported, the majority have been children below 18 years. Only 4,514 were brought to court.
Day in day out, we read and hear about all composites of victimization on women that too in a country that is deemed harmonious and progressive in development. Whenever I come to know of such incidents, I ask myself; Why so much of cruelty and suffering? Has there been justice for all these victims? How does society look upon them after the unexpected tragedy? Where is compassion, love and mercy?
In the current era, social media has caused a very significant influence in the lives of many children, teens and young adults. So much so, one’s self worth is determined by the number of ‘likes’ one gets on Facebook. They are vulnerable to exposure to strangers, putting themselves into unwanted trouble.
Sexual assault is a daily reality that occurs at an unacceptably high rate. Victims of sexual violence are also vulnerable to suicidal feelings, and show a high rate of suicide attempts. Help for victims can be nonexistent in many areas of the world. We don’t need to be anti-men or pro-women…..we just need to be a human to stand up against cruelty! And that is what LIPSTICK Series 2 is all about…sHE, woMAN, feMALE.
In the journey of my life, I’ve realized that success is about giving back to society. Living a self-centred life will not give contentment and satisfaction as obtained when serving humanity. Realizing the word ‘Art’ itself remains in ‘Heart’, I’ve chosen to use the art which has been part and parcel of my life to create awareness on social issues and propagate compassionate living and its values.
LIPSTICK has been a tough journey for me as I wear many hats in this production. I do not only dance, but I also manage other aspects of the production such as marketing, public relations, finance and etc. My driving factor has always been those victims who have been abused and some unfortunately murdered. I reflect upon their suffering whenever I feel distressed. However, the suffering which I have encountered has indeed made me stronger and wiser. LIPSTICK has indeed been a journey of enlightenment for me to realize the truth about life.
In Malaysia, it has always been a struggle for funding, especially if the artiste dreams of creating an extraordinary masterpiece. Having known that, I have introduced an addition to LIPSTICK this year, a premium 8gb Sandisk flash drive that comes with a metal casing and a velvet pouch, to raise sustainable funds for our ongoing projects. At this juncture, I would like to convey my gratitude to my family, sponsors, orchestra, production team, and everyone who has made LIPSTICK possible.
Throughout the ages, it was possible for evil to triumph because there has been inaction of those who could have acted, the indifferences of those who should have known better and the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most. Ignorance is never bliss when it comes to fighting over crime. It is collectively our responsibility to curb the problem.
Let us not just teach our girls on safety and empowerment, let us also teach our boys on chivalry and equality!
With abunDANCE of LOVE,
While you are reading this, there are women out there who are being tortured, battered and sexually abused. Life is full of unexpected circumstances! Even by reading and listening to the plight of those women, my heart shatters and many times I’ve cried on my knees asking God to shed light on those destitute women. How much I wish this world would change for the better. Well, it’s nothing to do with me or my relatives but every woman feels the same; irrespective of race, creed, religion and culture. Why is there so much of cruelty and suffering? Where is the love, compassion and mercy? Contemplating about the nightmarish life of those women who are going through this hellish experience for real, led me in imagineering LIPSTICK. I chose to advocate for what I believe in through dance-Bharathanatyam, which I have been practicing for a lifetime. Bharathanatyam is not just a dance for divinity; this art form also has the power to make a difference for humanity. Hence, I offer you LIPSTICK, featuring a series of episodes centered on women; with each segment highlighting a specific social issue affecting women and other aspects of womanhood. This will be staged annually.
LIPSTICK…an icon of womanhood! Like the varied colors and textures of a lipstick, be it shimmery, matte, glossy or sheer- every woman is beautiful, unique and special in her very own way. However, the media takes over with their distorted views on beauty of women. Sexiness is neither about flashing your flesh nor could elegance even mean wearing expensive fabrics. Sexiness is confidence; Elegance is attitude! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but one’s perception about another is indeed a reflection of one’s personality. All said and done, there lies a simple truth about beauty. A compassionate heart remains forever in the minds of people, compared to the magnetism of a flawless body. Comprehending age is just a number. I looked around for the secret to everlasting beauty and found that the best anti-ageing products remain- Character, Ethics, Morals and Values!
Just like how daylight and moonlight constitutes day and night, life is imbued with brightness and darkness. Challenges cannot be avoided but they can be conquered. Overcoming suffering and obstacles makes one stronger and wiser. This is normally accepted as destiny but alas, let not others control our lives. You are a gatekeeper of your own destiny, and you have all the right to decide what is best for you. The world comes to an end when man’s thoughts regresses rather than progress. Crying over problems is not the solution. Cross the hurdles with a zest making the world a better place to live. Let go of those attachments that are depleting your emotional reserves. Turn every negative element in your life into a positive one.
I would like to dedicate this production, to all those volunteers and social workers who may not be in the limelight, but they have enlightened many lives with their unconditional love. They made me realize that success is not about being conferred with awards and certificates or having a hefty bank balance, but life is about making a positive difference in the lives of others. By serving humanity, one will be in beatitude. Given a choice between Love & Hate; let us all choose the path of Love for it reveals the Truth and enables us to enrich the lives of others.
Let Us Break Our Mental Blocks and Let Us Melt Our Frozen Hearts
Together Let Us Rise Above With Wisdom And Love!
With abunDANCE of LOVE,