In ‘Memory’ Bharatanatyam is the vehicle for a strong message

Bisakha Sarker in 'Memory' at Arts In Parliament 10th August 2012
This was easily my favourite piece from the Akademi Community Performance for Arts in Parliament because it was so moving. Bisakha Sarker of the company Chaturangan danced two near-identical scenarios. In the first she used dance to show how one might feel as one’s memory slowly disappeared and it ended with her dancing absolute distress after the phrase ‘I only know one word, and I can’t remember what it is’. The second part of the dance had her finishing with smiling eyes, almost flirting through her embarrassment (in this shot shown by the hand hiding her face). The difference for these feelings, as was suggested in the dance, is the compassion with which we, whose memory still functions, behave towards the person experiencing memory loss. Writing this now still brings tears to my eyes. See it if you can.

This was the spirit of Bharatanatyam style dance – that of moods and emotion (rasa) – put into a modern context. Premiered at the first ever Dance and Dementia conference organised by Bisakha Sarker and her company Chaturangan. It describes a search to understand; “where does the beauty lie if not in youth? Memory is precious to us and its loss is not always treated kindly. One feels anxious, embarrassed and ashamed to forget. Can we learn to be more caring and compassionate and not add insult to injury by blaming one for forgetting?”

 

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