Sthree Chakra – The wheel of womanhood

By Sudha Kumar

”˜Sthree Chakra’- The wheel of womanhood  a solo Bharatanatyam performance was presented by Vidya Gokul of Samskriti School of Dance in November 2019 at the Pioneer Theatre in Sydney, Australia.

”˜Sthree Chakra’ traced the experiences of a woman as the wheel rolls along the path of life. It was a celebration of the wheel of womanhood. A celebration of the various layers that make a woman – grit and frailties, art and knowledge, purity and spirituality.  All that makes her the epitome of that unique thing called ”˜womanhood’.

An evening of exemplary Bharatanatyam of about 3 hours, Vidya, accompanied by live musicians and vocalists, portrayed the various qualities that embody womanhood. Each expressed through a rare story from our rich mythology. The live musical ensemble comprised of Sai Vigneshwar (vocals), Pallavarajan Nagendran (percussion ”“ mridangam), Venkatesh Sritharan (flute), Saumya Sritharan (veena). Choreography was by Hamsa Venkat and Vishakha Iyer. A seasoned dancer who dances with precision and is completely one with the character she expresses, Vidya danced the stories of the various women – their trials and triumphs, conflicts and compromises and their sorrows turned into strengths. The highlight of the evening was the story of Yashodhara when she confronts her husband who returns as ”˜The Buddha’.  Every story that was chosen was relevant to contemporary times. Vidya did complete justice, enthralled the audience and left them speechless wondering curiously about the wheel of life. There were many moments during the performance when hearts swelled, eyes moistened and applause erupted. The story of ”˜the wheel of womanhood’ is indeed timeless.

A dancer with a deep commitment to her art, for Vidya Gokul ”˜Sthree Chakra’ is the realisation of a dream. Vidya was initiated into the beautiful world of Bharatanayam at the tender age of 4. And, even as life happened, with higher education, marriage, moving continents and motherhood, it became an inseparable part of her. Vidya carried the art of dance in her heart, mind and feet. In recent years her guru Hamsa Venkat and Samskriti School of Dance has been instrumental in nurturing and letting her explore the art form. ”˜Sthree Chakra’ is attributed as much to womanhood, as it is to the art of dance itself, and what it means to Vidya

In spite of having a travelling job, a young toddler son and husband also with a travelling job, Vidya has always placed dance alongside the most important ”˜to do’s’ of her life. She is both a teacher and a learner at Samskriti School of Dance. Vidya is grateful that she was blessed with an array of Gurus, each of them opening for her doors through which she explored the wonderful artform of Bharatanatyam, and also for the blessing of a supportive family and husband Gokul. Though ”˜Sthree Chakra’ was initially just a small desire for Vidya, it eventuated into something far beyond her expectation. The most beautiful aspect was that the ideas, music and choreography brought together many creative and artistic minds making it a joyous artistic journey for all. The perseverance and unconditional commitment of her guru Hamsa Venkat was the driving force for which Vidya is eternally grateful.

Art is that unique quality that places a human on a pedestal. Dance goes one step further, in that it is expressed/performed for another as much as it is for oneself. For Vidya “Dancing is Vidya”. Having learnt different disciplines of Indian classical dance, dancing has prepared her for what life has to offer, from the mundane to the milestone. “It introduces to you those emotions that one may not experience very often” she says. Dancing grounds her for life, for as an artiste, the emotions expressed within the time and space of a dance are invariably carried beyond. Vidya is of the belief that performances and events are just the consequence of one’s sincere commitment to one’s art. So what compensates for dance for Vidya Gokul? “Very little. But dance among the arts is a lofty one and as such will always find for you a place in it’s world”.

Sthree Chakra has also been an inspiration for many dancers who hold the art form close to their hearts, but find themselves all the time juggling the other important aspects of life. Young women who are all the time controlling and letting go of the wheels of womanhood – Sthree Chakra.

As for Vidya Gokul, she continues to nurture her relationship with her art with the guidance of her Guru, and with the deep conviction that even if she leaves dance, dance will not abandon her.

Pictures courtesy : 0423295871

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