One of the most versatile and dynamic young artists, Anvi has carved a niche for herself in the fields of movements and visuals. Born into an inspirational family of artists (daughter of Srinivasa Prabhu, veteran Theatre/T.V/Film Actor/Director, and Ranjini Prabhu, a noted contemporary Kannada poet), her creative oeuvre has evolved along a rich, compelling, and original path.
She has trained intensively in Bharathanatyam with Guru Vasundhara Kumar, Guru Shubha Dhananjay and Guru Kiran Subrahmanyam. In 2007 she represented India at the Indo - Chinese Cultural exchange program at China, performing with her Guru at Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai. As a soloist she has danced at National and International dance festivals, traveling across USA and the UK.
She has also trained in Classical Ballet for over 5 years with Yana Lewis (Bangalore) and The Royal Academy of Dance (London), and it is this amalgamation of two very different dance forms that makes this artist stand apart from her contemporaries.
Q: Born into a family of artists (daughter of Srinivasa Prabhu, veteran Theatre/T.V/Film Actor/Director, and Ranjini Prabhu, a noted contemporary Kannada poet), how much has your family influenced your choices in life, be it your creative body of work or any other professional aspect?
A: I feel immensely lucky to be born into an artists’ family. I get to live amidst such incredible sensitivity around me. They are among my biggest inspirations – both artistically and otherwise - and just listening to their wealth of experiences has been soul education enough. My earliest memories are of watching my father’s theatre rehearsals or at Kalakshetra, so needless to say, ‘art’ has always been a part of my life. Any path pursued with passion is a very volatile experience, and I have always been surrounded with the freedom as well as support and encouragement and exposure needed to keep going and growing. They have helped me be conscious and honest about the quality of whatever I pursue.
Having a complete creative treasure trove at home, we have artistically worked together as well – I have adapted my mother’s poems to my dance; my brother (he is into sound engineering and is a vocalist and guitarist in rock bands) has done the music for a few of my art videos; and we recently started an Arts academy through which we want to pursue more of such collaborative projects within ourselves and with other artists.
Q: A dancer/choreographer, painter and a published poet, how has the experience of working in these various arts forms helped you evolve as a creator?
A: It has been strangely chaotic yet calming. Working with multiple forms helps me sensitize both my creative eye and critical eye and each helps me get a fresh perspective about the other. Since childhood I had been dabbing in all these and frankly, I never thought of how challenging or difficult it would be as a ‘profession’. It is usually assumed that you have to concentrate on just one thing to gain mastery over it. But for me personally, my dance would probably not have been as exhilarating an art for me if not for all the stillness and concentration I had to develop as a painter. My poetry would never have been as visually rich and varied (I play a lot with imagery through words) if not for my Art History education. So as an artist, for me all these seem one and the same; just their creation, perception, and appreciation takes place in different ways.
Perhaps the only thing I am fearful of as a multidisciplinary artist is that I might not be able to do justice to the form that I am working with. But as long as I am conscious of it, it will hopefully help me stay aware of the quality. So in spite of the occasional confusions, I wouldn’t trade this path for anything else.
Q: Do you see dance and painting or artistic installations as interdisciplinary subjects? We would love to know more about any such project that you might have worked on.
A: Yes they are definitely interdisciplinary for me. I feel every art form is already, inherently interdisciplinary. In the sense that there is the ‘visual’ element in a performance, there is a ‘poetic’ element in a visual art work, there is ‘movement’ within a story/novel. It is just that in each form, there is one aspect which becomes dominant. For this reason, I was hesitant in the beginning to call my works ‘interdisciplinary’. It wasn’t until I started travelling for residencies and especially during my MA studies at London, where I was exposed to numerous contemporary artist works; I tried to make it more evident in my works too. I started to rethink what ‘dance’ is, what ‘performance’ is, what ‘visual’ is, apart from what they obviously imply. That is where I started working with multimedia installations. And in today’s world especially, with the amount of technological as well, we artists are definitely in a fabulous space in terms of choices and options open for us to explore.
Q: You have travelled across the globe, for dance and arts; Bhutan, London, USA, China to name a few. What is the one thing that you find India has in common with these countries when it comes to dance and performing arts and one thing in which it differs.
A: One thing that is common everywhere is the absolute beauty and wealth of art and culture that every place has! It is overwhelming to see how much variety and complexity there is, and how much a place’s identity is shaped and dependent by its arts.
One thing that is different, or rather very particular to Indian Classical dance forms is that it is intrinsically rooted in mythology and religion. Its origin itself was in temples, so the devotional and spiritual aspect is its heart and soul. And also, it is a solo form. Which basically means there is no universal standard to sieve through performers, as there is in Classical Ballet, for example. (Where you start in the corps de Ballet, and eventually move on to soloist, principal, etc.). Here, the level of a performer is decided solely by individualistic standards.
Both these factors are amazing in term of giving our performing arts a unique and very approachable identity (as art should be), but it does become problematic when it comes to its managerial aspects, representing our art on different platforms or in terms of equal opportunities for all.
Q: Along with Bharatnatyam, you have also explored and delved into Contemporary and Ballet dance styles. In today’s contemporary times, with rising interest in western dance forms, what place does our Indian Classical Dances hold? How can we ensure that the essence of Indian Classical forms is not diluted?
A: I don’t think we have anything to fear for our Classical dance styles. They have survived all these centuries, adapting and evolving beautifully, and they will do so for many more to come. It is their essence which holds strong and there will always be artists to love, uphold and propagate them. When it comes to different forms - as a dancer I have benefited immensely from my training in Classical Ballet, and I strongly feel it is essential for every dancer to experience another form, even if just to understand the different way the body works and emotes technically and aesthetically. Every dance form is beautiful, and I feel it is a fantastic thing for dancers today to have all these resources to explore different styles.
The only thing we really, really need to fear and take care of so that the Classical forms are not diluted is the infrastructure we have for the arts. Not every young dancer is able to understand or navigate through the system, not every dancer gets the emotional and financial support so that they can invest their time and energy into the Art. We are all already aware of this, and the more number of younger people get involved with these issues, the more positive will be the outcomes. We need to have a more open, honest, supportive and concrete way of building stable careers as performers without having to worry about anything else. We have to keep taking more and more positive steps towards these in whatever capacity we each can.
Q: One of your pieces ‘Within’ inspired by Raga Revathi explores the connection between a dancer's mind and body. Do tell us more about this project, the inspiration and thought behind it.
A: This was my first attempt at an ‘interdisciplinary’ approach, and it was created and performed at my residency at the Art Students’ League of New York. I was specifically asked by my teachers there to start thinking about bringing dance and painting together. For a first step, the most obvious answer was to have paintings and dance together in a very literal way.
The intention/idea behind the piece was to delve deeper into the psychological aspect of dance. While you are on stage, your mind is concentrated on the music and physical movements for the most part, and I wanted to explore how the mind responded to the same music when it was not interrupted by the body. For this, I would listen obsessively to a Thillana in Raga Revathi for hours together until my head went blank, and from that blankness I would create drawings and paintings, which were projected as the background during the performance. It was a liberating experience to take that step forward.
Q: Any current and future projects in the pipeline?
I recently premiered a solo performance called ’AADYA – The Essence’, which was an attempt to bring in my Visual experience and my poetry together with my Bharathanatyam.
I am off to the UK very soon, for a couple of performances and group exhibitions and I am really looking forward to all the traveling for the next couple of months.
Make sure you say Hi! to Anvi
Website - www.iamanvi.com/
Twitter - twitter.com/hereisanvi
Faceboook - www.facebook.com/radhika.prabhu.71