Thirty years ago, Goa-based academic, artist, art historian and curator, Apurva Kulkarni, an independent academic started Altamirra, an educational initiative, which offers an alchemical mix of educational and light-hearted trends in art education.
It aimed to provide a safe place for artists of any persuasion to widen and re-examine their practice, offering accessibility through mentorship and art residencies.
In collaboration with Amplify, Altamirra presented an afternoon of exploring feminine archetypes, in varying dance forms, on March 4, 2023, where several artists presented views focused on notions of the feminine.
The performance was held at For the Record Vinyl Bar, Fontainhas, Panjim.
CELEBRATING THROUGH BOOKS & DANCE
Aloud Draco from That Book Store, Panjim, interrogated the notion of the feminine through the reading and showing of the picture book, Julian is a Mermaid, in an alternate performance. This was followed by Srimati Bhosale, who celebrated the feminine within, by dancing to Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Women.
A dance performance by Akhil Sawant manifested Mhadei the caregiver, daughter of the Western Ghats.
Sangeet Natak Akdemi awardee and versatile theater and film actor, Deepalaxmi Moghe, performed a solo, Stree Purnaan, in English, representing different facets of archetypes based on Ayodhya Ravan and Lankeha Ram, the stories of three women, written in Gujarati by Dinakar Joshi, translated into Marathi by Sushma Shaligram, directed by Vidyanidhi Vanarase.
A solo performance, requires flexibility and co-ordination to enact different characters, and traces back to Natya Shasta, which goes back to Sanskrit and Tamil texts.
It needs practice for a perfect presentation, no longer than a few minutes, and Deepalaxmi kept the audience attentive with her interpretations of Taramati (Tara) -- the tantric manifestation of Parvati, daughter of the monkey physician, Sushena, later known as an apsara (celestial nymph), who rises from the churning of the milky ocean -- and the queen of Kishkindha and wife of the monkey (vanara) King Vali, who is presumed to be dead.
Being widowed, she marries his younger brother, becoming queen of Sugriva. However, Vali returns and regains Tara and exiles his brother.
Tara's intelligence, presence of mind, courage and devotion to her husband, Vali, is praised. She is extolled as one of the panchakanya (five revered women), and reciting her name is believed to dispel sin.
This story is about an apsara, who is enamored with the god Shiva, who seduces her, which enrages his consort, Parvati, who transforms the apsara into a frog destined to live in a well. But, Shiva reincarnates her into a beauty.
Later, an asura king rescues and adopts her, naming her Mandodari. Subsequently, Ravana, the king of Lanka, falls in love and marries her. But, he is lustful and egotistical, and to Mandodari’s dismay, marries more women and has many concubines.
In her loving way, Mandodari tries to offer advice and guide him toward a righteous path.
The last story was about a woman's wisdom, courage and strength, her love for the manifested and un-manifested worlds, selfless sacrifices for the welfare of all.
‘The Untold Story of Sita’ replaces the traditional narrative of Sita's life as told in the Ramayana.
She’s an incarnation of the great Devi Narayani, comes to Earth to join Sri Ram in setting the foundation for a new civilization at a time when humans are becoming disconnected from the natural world.
Deepalaxmi led the audience to step in Sita's time, to see what life was like during a more spiritually advanced age, when there was an understanding of dharma, which was not just a duty, but an alignment with the higher forces of love for the preservation of our world.