As I walked into the picturesque compounds of the Opus Ballet School, I heard the thunderous rhythms of flamenco boots. My hurried pace to the reception, for enquires of class times etc seemed to float past my focus on the rhythms that only seemed to crescendo. I stood watching the class, from behind a glass door ,was mesmerised by the absolutely fabulous moves of the visiting Spanish Master,Manuel Batandos and crisp precision and charisma of Italian Master,Claudio Javarone [ACADEMIA DE BAILE ARTE Y FLAMENCO]. Being the final day of a 3 day workshop, involving students from around Italy, I was fortunate to be there. Their curiosity as to my presence was expected, i must hve made an od picture indeed – a sari-clad woman, rooted in one spot for 4 hours . The masters came up to me in their break and offered me a seat inside, and we exchanged name cards. Language was abrrier, but it was at best superfluous, as we spoke in in signs and with our hearts. There and then we began our collaboration. Manuel Batandos, taught me some Flamenco moves, I taught him some Indian dance moves and we simply had fun exploring our individual styles.
This of course led me to take flamenco lessons, twice a week from Claudio Javarone, who was based in Florence. From this point, I began working very closely with Claudio, an extremely creative dancer who is willing to explore and go beyond the usual scope of flamenco. My initial suggestion to try our two dance styles was absorbed with enthusiasm. You see, for years I had wanted to work with Flamenco and Kathak, simply because the origins of Flamenco began from and ancient style of Kathak. Even the ‘bhols’ or pnueumonic syllables of ‘takita and takito ‘ are similar. Apart from the use of shoes and bells tied to ankles, the styles , rhythms and footwork hold amazing similarities!
Claudio, being an extremely busy teacher [apart from Florence, he teaches in Torino, Perugia and Poggi Bonsi] and performer, did not lend us many rehearsal hours. Despite this, and between my teaching and painting times, we managed to put in as many rehearsal hours as possible. As the performance drew closer, we realised that our collaboration had developed and grown, at which point we decided that we required the collaboration between our musicians as well. So we sought the help of tabla-player Vickneshwaran Ramakrishnan and Sitarist Kumar Karthigesu, establish maestros from the Temple of Fine Arts in Perth and Kuala Lumpur respectively. Their arrival and work with Cladio’s Spanish musians, El Nino on percussion and Marco Perona on guitar, created an intense, mind blowing sort of magic we could have never anticipated.
Our performance ‘AGNI’- meaning ‘fire’, at the Theatro Limonai, Villa Strozzi, , was held on a memorable day-07/07/07, and was part of the FIESTA FIRENZE.[ Fi.ESTA – Firenze Estate 07 -> The beautiful outdoor theatre, is set within the prestigious and famous gardens of the Villa, houses about 700 guests. Every seat was filled and the audience’s response was amazing……after a moment’s total silence, after our final pose, came a thundering applause.
But more than the thundering applause from the crowd, was the deep-set sense of satisfaction within us, the sort of applause that rises within you when you realise something has happened that’s bigger than yourself, and you know that other people can feel. It is overwhelming and all encompassing.
(Sarasa is the deputy director of Saraswati MahaVidhyalaya and one of two Artistic Directors of The Temple of Fine Arts Inc. Perth This was a journey in 2007)