Shadows of India
Updated: Jan 10, 2021
All the beauty of life is made up of light & Shadow- Leo Tolstoy.
Light is essential for any photographer; it is like words for a writer, or water for fish. You will not be able to express your photography unless you master the art of light. But with the light always comes the shadows, just as there is no happiness in life without sadness. Shadows can help us create a natural contrast and significant depth in our pictures; it can also convey drama and emotions and provide us with a powerful compositional element. "Shadows of India" was my attempt to mix photography with another form of expression, an effort to present an art inside another or maybe a multi-dimensional approach to show my work.
"Dancing is an endless energy from the soul
Light can flow from its point of origin, until the end of the universe, as it flows endlessly dancing also is an energy that flows out from the depths of our souls to roam the universe. It's a way of expressing our feelings and experiences without using words.
For this blog, my journey took me to India. For centuries dance has been an integrated
part of religion and culture in India, it incorporates aspects of melody, drama, form and line in one act. I was told there are almost a thousand hand movements and signs in the Indian classical dance and it represented a powerful communication tool which made the British colonial government ban dancing in temples, but the Indian community protested against the ban and expanded it outside the temples in the 20th century.
Roaming the streets of Delhi with my Airbnb host, we took the three-wheeler CNG (Rickshaw) to Mandi's House, the capital's cultural focal point. The theatre was small but well maintained, we took our seats in the theatre's front row, I wanted to be a level lower to give my pictures a moody feel and empower the dancers. The moment the lights went down and the music started up slowly, I got goosebumps. As a photographer, I always recognized that looking at a picture of a place or event and seeing it for yourself is entirely different.
The Bharatanatyam dance is an ocean of emotions and coded messages.
The performance was rich in gestures, these gestures have often codified meanings to convey complex emotions and messages. Traditionally, in the Indian cultural dance, emotions have been structured around nine different gestures "Rasa". Happiness, sorrow, anger, compassion, disgust, wonder, fear, courage and serenity.
Gradually the performance started to deepen with elegant movements of different parts of the body, head, hands, feet and eyes all in tune with the music telling a story of what constitutes a divine or spiritual aspect of the body. With the dancers' energy, the music, and the excitement the Bharatanatyam dance was an ocean of feelings, emotions and coded messages.
I had a long flight the day before the show, my scattered and exhausted brain was in need for the purity of live movement and the focus of such performance, I honed my senses on the stage in front of me, and the rest of the world fell away. Looking at my photos after the show, I realized that our eyes often catch the light first, but if you look a little bit deeper, the shadows have still more to say.