As a rule, I don’t do email interviews. I
certainly prefer not to do them with a person I’ve not met, whose work I’ve only just encountered – unless I’m well-versed with them and their work, or the genre or tradition with which they’re working, the result can only ever scratch the surface.
See, a face-to-face, or even a phoner, gives room to make mistakes and be corrected in such a way that there are supplementary questions to be asked, tangents to go off on and a ‘story’ to be told from the richest vein of questioning. Then you go back to primary sources as necessary for as much background as is required.
Without all of that, the email interview is
at best, the basics, and at worst – unless of course you’ve got all the information at your fingertips – bland. But what’s good is it is short and
sweet. (In a way, what I’m really saying is I would have loved to have more of a discussion on how the Caste system still operates, if indeed it does still operate, given globalisation and local cultures going international… oh well, not to be.)
Here are some questions answered by Soorya
Krishnamoorthy via emal, that only scratch the surface of India’s Rhythms – Ancient
Dance, Exploding Beats, Modern Moves, a showcase of dance at the Seymour
Centre tonight. There is a heap more information worth pursuing. For starters,
consider the press release – one of the most expansive with which I’ve been serviced by a publicist. And the website.
Show starts at 7pm at The Seymour Centre.
Dom Romeo: You’ve chosen to present four of the eight Indian dance styles to present in Indian Rhythms; why only four and why those four?
SOORYA KRISHNAMOORTHY: There are only six forms of classical
dance in India, mohiniyattam, bharathanatyam, kuchupudi, odissi, kathak and
manipuri. I have in my programme four classical dance forms. When the show is
presented in India, all the six are there. It’s very expensive to have all the six
in a foreign country since all perform in group.
Dom Romeo: For the uninitiated, how do the four styles differ? What do they have in common? What will we be seeing?
SOORYA KRISHNAMOORTHY: The four classical dances differ in language and technique. Costumes and make up are different. What is common is the bhakthi element.
Dom Romeo: These are traditional dances from different parts of India. What is their history? Did they all develop at the same time in different places, or are some older than others? Do any of them serve as ‘antecedents’ for others?
SOORYA KRISHNAMOORTHY: All the classical dances of India are not created at the same time. The latest creation could be mohiniyattam
Dom Romeo: You are also including a modern dancing style as the fifth item. Why?
SOORYA KRISHNAMOORTHY: I am not including modern dance, it’s contemporary dance.
Dom Romeo: Tell me about how this modern dance relates to the other more traditional dances.
SOORYA KRISHNAMOORTHY: This dance is a combination of all the finer elements of these classical dances plus the martial art kalaripayattu and meditation.
Dom Romeo: In recent years ‘Bollywood’ cinema – featuring traditional and modern variations of Indian dance has gained a following worldwide. What enabled it to gain such a following?
SOORYA KRISHNAMOORTHY: Bollywood dances of the Hindi cinema are
cinematic dances and are mostly vulgar in nature, they don’t stick to the
classical traditions. They don’t represent the rich culture of India.
Dom Romeo: Tell me about your own career in arts and culture – how did you begin? Was dancing your first passion? Is a career in the arts something people are born into, as a continuation of the caste system (and indeed, is the caste system still rigidly in place?)
SOORYA KRISHNAMOORTHY: All details of mine can be had from my web site www.sooryaindia.com. I am not a dancer, I am a director. Basically I am a theatre person, writer and director. I write and direct light and sound shows, plays (dramas), and stage shows. The programme The Rhythm is conceived, designed, and directed by me.
Dom Romeo: How do you establish a cultural entity with no official offices and staff?
SOORYA KRISHNAMOORTHY: From the inception of 'soorya', 33 years
back, we never wanted to have an office or paid staff. The entire work is done
by volunteers and art enthusiasts. We believe that any work of this nature,
should be strictly non commercial. We want to avoid any sort of establishment
or over head costs. Soorya has chapters in 22 countries, no where we have
office or paid staff.
Dom Romeo: You’ve presented this show around the world – do some countries take to it more readily than others, and if so, why?
SOORYA KRISHNAMOORTHY: Soorya has chapters in gulf, far east Europe and Australia. Everywhere we get uniformly good response, I find the same enthusiasm everywhere, It’s GOD's grace.