The Kerala sari, Aditi Bhagwat’s dancing costume, blends well with INDIVA’s reloaded Kuttanadan Punchayile... in the backdrop. Also, it was a strong departure from her usual stage wear. In the traditional South Indian attire, she is all grace. Kerala has been so much into this Mumbaikar girl. She confides to us when she had been here for her latest performance in the capital city. At the tender age of 13, Thiruvananthapuram offered the very first stage in her life. From the broken pieces of memory of a dance fest, she picks out the shards, a visit to the Padmanabha Swamy Temple. “Kerala is a state that I visit frequently. Last year, I had been to the Vadakkunnatha Temple in Thrissur and performed. In Kochi, I was there most of the time with my Kathak and fusion performances. Recently, I did a music video Theiyye rendered by Resmi Satheesh,” the ace dancer recaps the Kerala episodes from her 30-year tryst with Kathak.
Aditi and INDIVA are connected ever since the band’s inception. Every time the band needed some dance masti, Aditi was the go-to girl. “A couple of INDIVA’s tracks are so soothing. But the internal spirit of their music throbs with energy and enthusiasm. There’s a lot of excitement in their songs. Dance can so easily become a part of their music,” she reasons. Moreover, Aditi’s chemistry with INDIVA’s front woman and keyboardist Merlin Dsouza tops it all. “Just like how I understand a musician, she understands me as a dancer. She knows my requirements, what kind of music I want and what inspires me to perform. Having seen me dance so many times, she could easily visualise me dancing. Sometimes she would tell me ‘Aditi, I’ll put this piece and you can do your spin,’ or ‘you can do your acting here’.”
“When Merlin composes a new piece, I know how it’s going to probably sound like. We have read each other so well.” She adds, her association with the remaining members also puts her at ease. This music-reading mind has hereditary roots in Aditi, passed on from her classical singer mom. “I got exposed to music right from my childhood. I had interest in drums and African instruments though I never played them.” As she grew up, it happened thus. She took Kathak out for experimentation with Jazz and types of western music. “It all began with the sheer love for those different kinds of music disciplines. I love jazz and almost any kind of music — be it Arabic or rock for that matter. Jazz is very beautiful. It is so close to our Hindustani music.”
The closeness of music, footwork and hand movements of Kathak had taken her to try on Lavani, the Marathi folk form. Thereafter, she devised a Kathak-Lavani jugalbandi production. Aditi had collaborations with jazz musician Louiz Banks and percussionist Sivamani. Blitzing through Odissi for 10 years also keeps her in pole position. Rather than boast of her accomplishments, she prefers to tag her accomplishments to an artiste’s approach. “You and I write in English, both our handwriting are different. Every artiste is different and so are the ways they understand art. Our personality is what comes into the form. People are open to collaborations. It is applied arts.”
In 2016, Aditi, who is also an actor, ventured into film production with Aarsa, a short film done in association with Kawa Hatef, an American filmmaker. The film, taken to seven international festivals has its New York premiere at the New York Indian Film Festival in May, Mumbai premiere at Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and a screening at the Toronto LGBT Film Festival. A boy’s journey of self discovery through classical dance forms its crux. Next, Aditi plans a Kathak-Flamenco web-series for YouTube, to be done with her Flamenco dancing partner, Kunal Om. “Digital content and Internet are the next TV. We want to keep pace with the future. What we create there is immortal. Like films, web content is here to stay for ages,” she signs off....