I was awarded a Finzi Scholarship in 2009 and spent six weeks in the South Indian city of Chennai, undergoing an exhilarating immersion in Carnatic performing arts. Each day began with a flute lesson from acclaimed musician K. Bhasakaran where I gradually found my way around the varisas and gitas of Carnatic music, followed by a three-hour dance class with Kanchana Janardhanan, learning the postures, gestures and vigorous foot-stamps of Bharatanatyam. Evenings were spent soaking my ruined calf muscles in a bucket of hot water while attempting to memorise the music and movements for the next day’s classes. In between I developed an intense masala dosa habit and was guided through Chennai’s extraordinary concerts scene by an elderly Indian astro-physicist.
Since returning to the UK, I’ve been delighted to find fresh opportunities to continue exploring this remarkable performance tradition and to draw on the training I received in a number of collaborative projects. Working alongside cellist Sophie Rivlin I’ve choreographed two dance pieces that draw on Bharatanatyam for London Open House Day and the Clapham Chamber Concerts series. As a musician, I am currently working as a composer and flautist with dancer Ash Mukherjee and director Yana Zarifi-Sistovari on a South Indian interpretation of Euripides’ Medea to be performed at the Central School of Speech and Drama. I hope soon to be able to return to Tamil Nadu.