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Bisakha Sarker blog The Road to Nine: Sringar. Photo with Vanitha Chandresgaram. PC: Julian Hughes

AO Global: The Road to Nine. Bisakha Sarker, blogpost 4: Sringar

The emotion / rasa that took us away on the fourth week of this journey was sringar. In terms of the state of being it was interpreted as ‘love’ or ‘adornment’. It was interesting to see how the word was taken as a verb and a noun by the two artists, Nirvair Singh and Gizem Aksu.

In South Asian dance and often in life, these words are linked to one another. Dressing up with expectation for a beloved who does not turn up is a classic theme of South Asian dance. Instead of telling a one-dimensional story of love and betrayal it allows one to tackle a series of expressions from happy excitement to disappointment, rage, hopeless despair, to finding a coping mechanism to come to terms with the experience.  

Nirvair talked about adornment as an intimate expression of love and self-care. His perception of sringar was deep and romantic. Without elaborating the point, he said something very beautiful like ‘sringar in language is poetry’. His presentation had images of his fashion photography, of designer outfits by Sabyasachi and also images of tribal customs of body painting and the wearing of elaborate bead jewellery. While talking about personal care he mentioned some traditional cultural practices of India such as oiling the hair or cleansing the face with ‘malia’ (the skin of the milk). It took some of the younger generation participants by surprise but these were very common rituals in our childhood. Nirvair made a profound remark,  ‘observation is your palette’, and went on to expand on the concept: he spoke of adornment, touching on body piercing, body modifications, cross dressing, face painting, tattooing, not forgetting the role of dressing as a political statement. He showed us some amazing examples of adornments in nature and landscapes, reminding us that ‘life is a gift to be cherished’. 

The second part of the evening was a practical session with Gizem Aksu. Gizem is a dedicated dancer. She shares not only her movements but also her philosophy, her body and the way she connects with the world around her. She speaks with full conviction. She started by saying ‘love is beauty and beauty is love’. She is a great believer of the connection between hand and heart. To make the point she showed us anatomical drawing and talked about how we connect to another person with an embrace or a hug. It brings two hearts physically closer and the arms make a safe space and it invites the other person to open their hearts in that protected space. 

Before starting the practical session she took time to take everyone through the routines of warming up the neck. The actual movement motifs had a lot of turning and movement of head to generate energy and then to let the energy lead the movement. They were not complex movements but need sustained practice. Many of us felt dizzy but she was convinced that it will come, even if not on the day but when it is one’s turn to get it. How reassuring. 

Aakash made a request at the beginning of the session for everyone to take part fully and take advantage of the possibility of worldwide cross pollination. He never forgets to welcome all and to remind us that in this journey we are all together. It is a wonderful opportunity to share our world with each other.   


Image: Vanitha Chandresgaram lovingly applies Bisakha's make-up | From the author's archive | PC: Julian Hughes