The Kathak Maestro Comes Up With ‘Brij Shyam Kahe’, A Compilation Of Poetry For Dance
“My dance is my mirror,” stated Pt. Birju Maharaj, when requested about his huge repertoire of expertise. Through the lockdown final yr, he was busy writing Brij Shyam Kahe (So says Brij Shyam), a set of poetic compositions organized into 15 sorts of musical and literary genres. The poetic format affords concepts for imagery that can be utilized in dance.
Published by the Emami Foundation, the compilation is extra a mirrored image of the journey undertaken by the dancer, trainer and guru, who communicates right here the aesthetics of dance via poetry. Pt. Birju Maharaj, who makes use of the pen identify Brij Shyam, expands on a few of his philosophy on this interview. Edited excerpts:
How did you are taking to writing poetry and what do you need to convey via it?
Kathak is the premise of my poetic journey. There are completely different ranges to the method — from dance to poetry and again to bop — Shruti (the heard phrase), Smriti (the remembered phrase), and Srijan (creativity). From my mom, Mahadai, and several other different elders, I listened to the poetry written by my grandfather, Pt. Bindadin Maharaj, for dance.
In the start, I didn’t write my identify with my compositions and used the identify ‘Binda Shyam’; even now, after I use my identify ‘Brij Shyam,’ it’s as an providing to my gurus.
These poems have been penned to assist dancers assume earlier than creating a chunk. They are additionally concerning the cultural ecology that has nurtured Kathak. For occasion, the concept of Krishna (Natwar); Kathak is ‘Natwar Nritya,’ the dance of Krishna. While some poems are on festivals, corresponding to Hori of Braj, others are on the leelas (performs) of gods. In these poems, I search to seize the world from which Kathak derives its content material. The dominance of the feelings of shringar (love) and bhakti within the verses are illustrative of conditioning the thoughts for dance. “Do nayan ke madhya mein, base Radhika Shyam, palak band kari dhyan mein, sada rahat ‘Brij Shyam’.” (Brij Shyam’s eyes stay closed in meditation, and at all times maintain pricey the imaginative and prescient of Radhika and Shyam.)
The poem titled ‘Bichaaraa Shabd’ (helpless spoken phrase) reveals your use of straightforward language. How does the spoken/ written phrase join with dance?
Indian classical dancers work with two sorts of languages. The first is the same old Hindi, English, Tamil, and many others. Then there may be the language of dance expressed within the grammar of motion, rhythm, or bhava; or via mnemonic syllables (bols). Using easy language, I hope, will increase their creativeness to churn, create, and compose.
In your poems, you typically point out guru, dhyaan and jap. How do they relate to bop?
These phrases present route to a journey. The true that means of ‘guru,’ as I’ve understood, is the one who gives gentle and the method to take away ignorance via a data system. From my lived expertise, the concept of ‘dhyaan’ is concentrated reflection, and ‘jap’ is reflective meditation. These are the methods I put together myself to enter the world of dance. Different artistes have their means to have interaction with the inventive world. For occasion, my grandfather, a dancer, author and composer, when requested to carry out within the Awadh or Bhopal courtroom, would place a salagram in entrance of the tabla earlier than starting his efficiency. Salagram is a fossilised shell that represents the omniscient vitality of Vishnu. For Maharaj Bindadin, the efficiency was at all times a ritual exploring fact and understanding the self. Once the efficiency was over, my grandfather would first bow and retrieve the salagram after which flip to salute his patron king.
When you say dhyaan and jap dictate your inventive consciousness, how do you relate that to the chakkars that dominate Kathak performances?
The chakkars (pirouettes) are one of many many parts that make a composition. However, chakkars and acrobatic stunts corresponding to jumps are disruptive to the poetry of the items. In truth, in my opinion, used them excessively mirror a wavering thoughts caught in a world of maya (phantasm). The performer is extra involved about arriving on the climax with a bang and revelling within the thunder of viewers applause.
Your engagement with the idea of ‘line’ is obvious in your poetry and dance. For occasion, there are poems written as couplets (dohas) or as quatrains (chaupai). Can you inform us concerning the significance of ‘line’?
Lines are the premise for my experiential journey in creativity. They present a particular route, chronology, continuity and readability of thought. In Kathak, the motion and line connection is important. As in poetry, there must be continuity within the dance motion. Thus, any dance motion has a line that marks the three elements — starting, physique and finish. Unfortunately, at present, many Kathak dancers merely give attention to the start and the top of actions with out participating with the physique, making the dance soul-less.
You have expressed your creativity via dance, singing, taking part in devices, portray, and now writing. What is it you seek for?
In a poem, I write, ‘Ek anek roop mein dekhiyo.’ I journey to see and search the unity of being in numerous varieties and completely different routes, a pilgrimage in direction of one objective — to search out myself.
So, who’re you?
My dance is my mirror. I’m and not using a kind and merely a vichaar dhara (thought course of).