Ganga inspires a Bharatanatyam dance

A devotee chants hymns at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, on the occasion of Ganga Dussehra festival in Allahabad. AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh

With an aim of delving into the myriad dimensions of the river Ganga, popular Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Malavika Sarukkai will present her new production. Titled Ganga Nitya Vaahini — The Eternal River, the dance performance will depict the various moods and movements of the river as it traverses through the different terrains.

“Ganga is a part of our sub-conscious for classical artistes. This piece is an evolved production; I can’t recall how long I have been working on it to put it together. The performance will be an amalgamation of perspectives that I’ve gathered over the years,” says Sarukkai. 

To bring authenticity to her production and to understand the various perspectives of the river, Sarukkai visited places like Devprayag and Varanasi. “The sacred geography of India has always been a calling. Through the years, I visited the sangam at Devprayag, where the river meets with the Alakananda and the Bhagirathi. I hope to translate all these visual images into dance,” says Sarukkai.

Elucidating more on the performance, Sarukkai says, “It will comprise pieces like Gangavataranam and Ashtam Gatho Ravihi (the sun has set). Also, the philosophy of Mahakal, (deep time) which I’ve envisioned as a wave-like movement in the dance, will also run through the choreography. It will have many inflows — abstract movement, engagement with space, reverberation with philosophy, images of the Ganga at Varanasi and harmony with rhythm, suggesting infinity.”

Though currently based in Chennai, the dancer is excited about performing in the city she was born and brought-up in. “Earlier, there used to be many classical dance
performances in south Mumbai. But there came a period where there were hardly any. I’m glad that the culture has revived over the past couple of years and this performance will be a tribute to my city and its audiences,” says Sarukkai.


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