Divja and Roy
Following on with the Dancing Belles series, in early June I met with Divja Unnikrishnan but now living in Sheffield with her husband and son.
Following on with the Dancing Belles series, in early June I met with Divja Unnikrishnan but now living in Sheffield with her husband and son. Divja teaches dance and spoke to me about the importance of precision in the movements and facial expression in Indian dance. The Bharatanatyam has three main components: rhythm, hand movements and facial expression. As with most Indian dances this dance too is about acting out a story of Indian Gods and Divja told me that in her solo performances she takes on the roles of different Godly characters - hence the need to exagerate various facial expressions and use precise hand movements to tell the story to her audience, whilst at the same time keeping pace with the rhythm of the music.
I watched a film of one of her performances and was in awe of the beautiful costume and the skills she had acquired over years and years of practice.
In early July I was invited by Roy Whitehead to a festival of Scottish Country dancing taking place near Harewood House close to Harrogate. Roy learned to dance when he was just 5 years old and was taken to rehearsals by his grandmother who played piano to accompany the dancers. Roy is a principal dancer and during the outdoor festival, with hundreds of different dance teams from the north of England, he performed a couple of dances, including a Highland Fling which is a hard dance consisting of many athletic jumps.
Both dancers were keen to tell me about the importance of precision in movements. I was particularly taken by the patterns in the costumes and the patterns in the movements of the dancers. Movement, facial expression and patterns feature in this series of paintings. I am also incorporating flowers in the paintings that link to the the dance/culture depicted - a jasmin flower for Divja, a thistle for Roy and his ladies.
I now have 18 panels in total and hope to double this by the end of the project. Henk has nearly completed his structure - 37 ribs of oak, bent into a sphereical shape, set onto a platform and surrounded by three long oak limbs. From end September I will be able to start testing how the paintings fit inside the structure.