Day 10 – Trying on Shantala Shivalingappa’s solo


I’m on my way to California for the weekend to join my husband in a Mayapuris performance at Shakti-fest. But I managed to do my dance-challenge right after packing!

Just before I graduated from UF, two of my teachers, a writer and a dancer, both gave us the same advice: immerse yourself in the artists you love. Pick the three you love the best and study their work. This was a novel idea to me! Not wanting to simply copy others, I’d assumed I had to come up with my own path from scratch. This ‘following in their footsteps’ makes a lot of sense, and I feel less alone.

Anyhow, so who are the artists I admire and adore?

One of them is Shantala Shivalingappa, who is amazingly versatile but primarily dances Kuchipudi. I’ve only see her perform once at Kalakshetra in 2003 when I was a new student there, but I still recall the impression she made on me. I experienced her as humble, serene, and technically brilliant.

Today I watched one of her contemporary solos and learnt the first minute. What stands out for me is the unhurried pace of the choreography. I feel the need to pick up the pace just seconds into dancing. This is an important shift in consciousness for me. Also dancing someone else’s choreography felt like trying out a strangers clothes not knowing if they will fit.

PS: I’m consciously not putting Shantala’s video here. I feel like a little troll compared to her, but you can find it easily on YouTube 🙂


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