How strange is it that, as a lotus bud opens, the stars wink and fade away. This creates the illusion that a small lotus can make the mighty army of stars disappear,” says Kathak dancer Aditi Mangaldas as she prepares for the Delhi premier of her classical piece, Widening Circles. The blossoming lotus becomes the vehicle from which the dancer explores the concept that all elements in the universe are connected to one another. The concert will be held as part of the Natya Ballet Dance Festival, organised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, at LTG auditorium on December 2.
Mangaldas expands the lotus motif beyond its structural or religious symbolism by underpinning it to the Buddhist concept of Pratityasamutpada or co-arising. “From the tiny atoms to vast galaxies, from the simplest to the most complex, from the mighty to the minute, everything is linked and connected,” she says. One of the foremost exponents of the dance form, Delhi-based Mangaldas has explored the nature of Krishna in 2010’s production Immersed and celebrated the coming together of the five elements of nature into a harmonious whole in Samvet in 2007. Her contemporary pieces have ranged from When Eternity Ends…Journeys In Love to Textures of Silence and Inter-rupted.
Performing solo in Widening Circles, Mangaldas presents her ideas through three segments, titled Sun, Earth and Moon, which trace the opening of the lotus at dawn to the folding of its petals as the moon rises. The virahini nayika in Moon expressed the pangs of separation through Mirabai’s Main virahini baithi jagoo jagat sab sove. Shlokas are a part of the song in Sun, while Earth has a couplet by poet Ahmed Naseem Qasimi. Rabindranath Tagore’s On the day when the lotus blossomed and Rainer Maria Rilke’s I live my life in widening circles are infused into the performance.
Widening Circles was first performed two years ago at a festival curated by Malavika Sarrukai in Chennai. Its present staging comes against a global support for “walls being built and isolationist politics”. “More than ever before, we need to remember that little things can impact a huge multitude of events and people,” she says.