Haiku in Indian Classical Dance
haikuDANCE, a unique program was first presented in August 2019 at the North America Haiku Conference at Winston Salem as part of the Haiku-Bharata Natyam collaboration with Kala Ramesh and Asha Bala, as a themed session. Kala read out around 25 haiku and Asha Bala, along with her students, depicted five chosen haiku through Bharatanayam, a classical dance form from Tamilnadu, India.
Asha says, “this piece came about through an unexpected but lovely collaboration with haiku poet Kala Ramesh. Some time early this year, Kala sent me a mail out of the blue asking if I would be interested in putting into motion the words of a few haiku poems. The choice of the haiku was completely up to me. To be presented at the North America Haiku Conference happening in Winston Salem in August of this year (2019). And before I knew it, I was scrambling to put together the music and dance for the five haiku I had selected from some 80 haiku, Kala had sent me. That it was challenging is to put it mildly. But it was undoubtedly a unique experience putting into motion the thoughts and words of five poets. The simplicity of the words, the brevity of the ku are a perfect match to the lyrics that we are used to depicting in Bharata Natyam. It is up to us as choreographers to keep the simplicity or take them in a different direction. However, not knowing the context that inspired the ku, made it a daunting undertaking. So it was truly humbling and rewarding to see the whole-hearted appreciation of the poets.
Today, at our dance school’s annual day, we present two of the haiku. We would have really loved to have the poets here in person to read out the haiku in their inimitable style. But given that one of them lives in India and the other in Japan, we did the next best thing. We asked them to record it in their voice and send it to us. And they did. So, we will project the words as formatted by the poets, accompanied by their voice before we perform the haiku.”
The first haiku by Kala Ramesh.
the earth becomes
The song selected for this haiku is Barkha Ritu Ayi in Raag Sur Malhar, beautifully sung by Sanjeev Abhyankar