The beats slow down, but not the chhan-chhan of her ghungroos. The stage is well lit, but her face glows immaculately. As the danseuse weaves an intricate story through sound, movement and voice, the audience is left entranced.
Kathak dancer extraordinaire, Shovana Narayan, continues to perform with as much energy and enthusiasm at 70 as a young artist would, reminding us that devotion to an art form is the secret to agelessness.
Such is always the sight at a Shovana Narayan concert or during one of her performances; every time, the 70-year-old, who has defied age in every way conceivable, exudes immense energy and passion to perform. In the last week of August alone, such was her repertoire in the capital: a performance during a dance and music festival on August 25, followed by a show at Triveni Kala Sangam two days later, and then another one just a day after that, at a fashion launch event. Once cannot help but wonder —what sorcery is this?
The magic, as it turns out, lies in her attitude. Narayan explains, “I just love doing what I do. I’m so passionate about it. For me, dance is my life, it’s my breath. It’s my aatma. I’m totally immersed in it.”
Every day is a rendezvous with dance for the danseuse, who describes her routine as having been “the same all my life”. She explains, “The whole day goes in that, in the world of music and dance. So many dimensions are present. When you’re reading, it’s dance. When you’re practising on your own, it’s dance. Everything is connected to it. The world of dance also opens your mind to so many different vistas. I can read history in it, social development in it, geography in it, mathematics in it.” This way, the symbiotic relationship Narayan shares with her art form, is her elixir because it helps her remain healthy. She continues, “You need to be mentally, physically and emotionally fit, and dance has given me all that. Life has been greatly challenging, but I’ve never let myself be bogged down. Whenever that’s happened, I’ve said ‘Okay, that’s it’ and moved on.”
In fact, Narayan has previously suffered a brain stroke, because of which she partly lost her peripheral vision. She also has skin problems — all of which could have bogged her down. But dance came as her saviour. She continues, “I said, so what? Dance is what has given me everything. It’s parts of my life, and it makes me see the beauty of the other parts of me. Makes me see there’s a beautiful road ahead.”
Indeed, age is just a number holds true in her case. Shovana Narayan is all set to perform at the Lalit Arpan Festival at the IHC on September 30, in another expression of the fact that passion can make a person eternal.