My life’s journey is a path crafted with answers to the many queries that I have about living on earth, the only planet in our universe that perfectly supports the lives of inhabitants. Earth is largely populated by humans that come in omnifarious shapes, colors, perceptions; often engaging in nonsensical fights to outwit each other in order to win the so-called survival race.
So how should one live their lives on earth? I wished I was given a manual book before descending on earth. Since childhood, I have been spending most of my time engaged in deep thoughts seeking for Truth. What is the difference between good and evil? Who am I? What is my purpose on earth?
Raised by an animal loving dad and artistic mom, my appreciation for the aesthetics plunged deep. Growing up in an environment of dance and music all through my life, arts played a major role in shaping me physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
I couldn’t see art as a separate entity of my life...
Together with these artistic values, I also found that everyone around me spoke about God; each having their own versions of God. There seem to be plenty of religions in the world but how far these doctrines depicting God written by a human is true? Each call their God to be superior than the rest...so who is actually God and the most powerful among the rest?
I came to realise that God is actually a Supreme Energy – an embodiment of love, truth and beauty. The God that you, me and others address with various names is fundamentally the same. Only our chosen paths are different. And I chose dance as my form of worship and a spiritual journey towards enlightenment.
I believe that success is not about being conferred with awards and certificates or having a hefty bank balance. It’s about making a positive difference in the lives of others. After all, the presence of God is felt when you do good deeds to humanity. Realizing the word ‘ART’ itself is present in ‘HeART’, I’ve chosen to use art as a tool to spread universal love, to create awareness on social issues and to share the essence of life.
Bharathanatyam is not just a matter of divinity; this art form has the power to make a difference for humanity. Over my dancing years, I’ve realized that awards, titles, popularity ratings and accolades are just accessories to an artiste. These are neither permanent nor imperative in life. A true artiste never works for recognition but for noble intentions.
I am a thinker. I introspect and contemplate on everyday situations and encounters; pondering the inevitable and esoteric allusions. Asking myself a variety of questions, I self-reflect on my actions and meditate on issues; coming up with an exhaustive list of musings that go on to become valuable life lessons for me. These reflections are my golden survival kit to get through my voyage on earth. Day by day, I’m still transforming and reengineering myself as I keep discovering more.
The dawning of 2017 propelled me to divulge these precious gems; comprehending the similarities we have in trotting the peaks and valleys of life. 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 to become stronger, wiser and grateful to all the little things in life. So walk bravely on earth with a wise mind and good heart. I believe if your intentions are noble, the universe will guide you!
May these scriptures of my life be in worthy to make your trip on earth more meaningful.
Reflect...Rejoice...Transform to Transcend!
Wishing everyone a blessed and blissful life! Together let’s celebrate life as ONE!
With abunDANCE of LOVE,
Imagineer, Producer, Director, Educator, Choreographer, Performing Artiste, Arts Passionista…..
Kamini Manikam is an accomplished Bharathanatyam artiste of International repute.
Born in a milieu enriched with music and dance; her great-grandfather, the late Mr. Chinnayya was a dramatist and an actor actively involved in stage plays of pre-independent Malaya. Next in line was her grandmother, the late Mrs. Amaravathi Govindaraju; the first female artiste to perform ‘Kathakalatshebam’ (narration of mythological stories by singing) in Malaysia. Nurturing further, Kamini’s mother, Mrs. Indira Manikam and her aunt, Mrs. Kamala Ramachandran went a mile ahead to form the renowned Tanjai Kamalaa Indira Dance School in 1966; presently making it the ‘Longest Operating Dance School in Malaysia’, endorsed by the Malaysia Book of Records. Concurrently, her mother is the founding President of the Malaysia Bharathanatya Dance Association, active since its inception in 2008.
Kamini primarily took up dancing at the tender age of 3 from her mother and her aunt; adhering to the Tanjavur style of dance, uniquely known for its grace and subtle execution of steps. She then ensued under the tutelage of ‘Shastra Nritya Kala Sarathi’ Natyacharya Shri Ravi Sharma, a Bharathanatyam exponent from Chennai.
Besides performing extensively in more than 350 shows locally and abroad namely, India, Spain, Japan, Turkey, Mauritius, Australia, and Singapore; Kamini has also flourished in many lead roles in the highly acclaimed dance drama productions of the Tanjai Kamalaa Indira Dance School. These spectacular shows are performed all year round in and out of Malaysia, bagging full houses and awards along the way.
In 2007, she enthralled the audience by leading the role of ‘Sivagami’ in ‘Spectacular Sivagamiyin Sabatham’; which was the first Tamizh dance drama to be performed at Istana Budaya (National Theatre). The production bagged ‘Best Costume Design’ for BOH Cameronian Award 2008. In 2013, yet again she captivated the hearts of many by the lead role of ‘Kannagi’ in a mega production, ‘Kannagi: The Wrath of a Chaste Woman’; which toured Malaysia thereafter. This adept production won the ‘Audience Choice Award’ for BOH Cameronian Award 2014.
From thematic productions to international showcases, her performances have procured her with numerous awards and titles such as; ‘Nrithya Vilaasini’, ‘Nrithya Kala Vedika’, ‘Aadal Nanggai’, and ‘Nattya Sironmani’. Successively, she drew the attention of discerning critics as a promising dancer and was nominated for the ‘Most Promising Artiste Award’ during BOH Cameronian Award 2007. In 2013, she was awarded the prestigious WFTM Global Award for Entertainment Category for her commendable aesthetic performance. She was also bestowed upon the Women Icons Malaysia 2018 Award for her achievement in the Malaysian performing arts industry. In due respect, Kamini’s artistic works have been also documented in Japanese academic journals regarding Indian dance in Malaysia.
Kamini’s dance is illustrious for its joyous feel, comprising verve movements that catch the eye. Her ‘Abhinaya’ or facial expressions are stylized to reach out easily to a myriad of audiences. Using smart communicative techniques in the execution of these expressions, she brings about a distinct approach to the matter discussed in her dances.
Over the years, this immense exposure to dance and music has resulted not only in an acclaimed dancer but as an Imagineer; thinking of creative ideas and philosophies, shaping them all up into a ‘way of life’ that she personifies as ‘Kaminism’. Creating a world of her own, Kamini incorporates these resplendently potential ideas into her dance and her career as an independent and progressive woman, advocating leadership and positive lifestyle among the eves of today.
She believes in a peaceful world, where love and compassion prevail. She uses the arts as a tool to propagate and communicate to people the core essence of life – humanity, unity, universal love. Her insight on Bharathanatyam is her Lasso of Truth and her ‘Salangai’ (dancing bells) as her pair of indestructible bracelets.
She founded LIPSTICK: Celebrating Life as ONE in 2014 to propagate compassionate values through dance and music. Nonetheless, this time she wore many hats; as a Producer, Director, Choreographer, Costume Designer and indubitably as a solo Performer. LIPSTICK Series 1: Spectrum of Estrogenic Love, highlighted domestic violence in Malaysia. In 2015, LIPSTICK was back again with its second series:sHE, woMAN, feMALE, focusing on gender equality and sexual assault. Throughout 2016, some of the items from the LIPSTICK repertoire were performed as recitals in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mamallapuram and Valencia. One of the dance pieces from LIPSTICK Series 1 was featured on South Asian Dialogue, a weekly program airing on Rogers TV-Canada. A full-length production entitled LIPSTICK Retold was staged in Japan for Tokyo Performing Arts Market 2017. Besides LIPSTICK, Kamini has also directed other productions with new age artistic conception stirred with original compositions and choreography.
Realising her responsibility to the family tradition, she conducts dance classes at the Tanjai Kamalaa Indira Dance School and assists in TKI’s management and artistic productions apart from judging dance competitions held around the country. Besides dance, her passion for music is undying. She has been formally trained in Carnatic vocal music and instruments such as the Veena and Harmonium.
Apart from performing arts, Kamini Manikam has performed eminently in the academic field. Graduated with Masters in Business Administration and Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Human Resource Development, Kamini is currently pursuing a PhD in Business, in which her study is related to Arts Management.
Endless is a daughter’s duties, as Kamini is also involved in KM Vet Pharm Sdn. Bhd., a veterinary pharmaceuticals and services founded by her dad, Dr. Manikam in 1991. For her service to the veterinary industry, she won the MIEC Young Entrepreneur Award for veterinary pharmaceuticals category in 2015.
Her constant interest and focused research on audience development in the Malaysia context, has led her to form the WOWGA Creativarium in 2017. WOWGA is a body propagating arts beyond entertainment, as edutainment. There are already many schools providing training to create performers but WOWGA is all about educating audience to appreciate arts especially traditional performing arts. It’s schedule for this year comprises a series of programmes on stage and via virtual mediums. All these form one of the primary objectives of the Creativarium to increase audience participation in concerts especially young audience from the generation Y pool and beyond.
Kamini Manikam continues to accept and advocate a variety of new concepts and ideas as her journey continues. Crossing borders and experimenting with the unknown still stay strong as her principles as she traverses life’s unlimited possibilities.