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Interview with Preethi Bharadwaj

Redefining Artistic Boundaries


1) As a multifaceted artist, how do you believe your diverse artistic background has enriched and shaped your artistic journey.


Having a diverse artistic background has been incredibly important to me because it allows me to connect not only with the movement, which is my primary focus, but also with other art forms like music, theatre, and fine art. What really draws me into these fields are the people I encounter and continue to be inspired by in each of them.

 

My journey into dance was actually preceded by my early training in music, which began when I was just three years old. While my formal training in dance came later, it's through dance that I've truly deepened my connection to artistic expression. Working alongside individuals from various backgrounds and undergoing training in these different disciplines has shown me just how powerful movement is in my artistic voice. Now, I feel that my dance has a distinct voice of its own, enriched by my experiences with other art forms and the diverse array of people I've had the privilege to collaborate with.


2) How do you incorporate  your training in Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music, Nattuvangam, theatre and other forms into your performances? Please share your creative process.


There have been various paths leading me to incorporate spoken word into my performances, but it wasn't until my recent work, "Me and My Trash," that I truly delved into this realm along with singing and other forms of expression. Prior to this, spoken word hadn't been a conscious element in my dance performances. However, the theme I chose for "Me and My Trash" demanded it; I felt compelled to vocalize certain aspects, particularly the frustrations surrounding the topic, which intertwine with my broader views on art and its place in my life, all connected to the concept of trash.

 

In this endeavor, I collaborated with a writer who helped me articulate these feelings, bringing them to the forefront. This collaboration inadvertently introduced elements of theatre into "Me and My Trash." Now, I find myself contemplating intriguing possibilities, such as whether "Trash" could be translated into a Bharatanatyam dance piece—a proposition that has piqued my interest, prompting me to explore its potential.

 

I've discovered a sense of liberation when I seamlessly transition between dance, song, and spoken word. As Maya Krishan Rao aptly puts it, "surprise yourself." This sentiment resonated deeply with me during a recent workshop with her, and it has become a guiding principle in my artistic journey.



Preethi Bharadwaj

Photo Credit: Rishi Raj


3) Of all your projects, which one holds the most personal significance to you and why


"Me and My Trash" holds a special place in my artistic journey, having taken shape in 2022 and since then, it has become a significant part of my creative exploration. It's a project that has grown within me, extending beyond my initial vision, and I'm grateful for the continuous learning and evolution it brings. Trash, in its literal and metaphorical manifestations, has become a recurring theme in my life, both personally and artistically. The ongoing dialogue surrounding it, both with myself and with the world, ensures its enduring presence.

 

In addition to "Me and My Trash," there have been other projects that have left their mark on my artistic path. One notable example is a play titled "Where the Shadow Ends," which I collaborated on with Kriyative Theatre in Bangalore. This experience served as a pivotal moment, opening doors for me to explore the realm of theatre further, enriching my artistic journey in unexpected ways.


4) How do you navigate the balance between preserving traditional art forms and incorporating modern elements into your work and can you share any specific challenges you’ve faced in your career due to your multidisciplinary artistic background and how you have overcome them?


I find myself navigating through my journey without a clear roadmap, yet somehow things are falling into place. From my perspective, it feels like I'm leading two lives, a sentiment echoed by a few of my friends. Social media plays a significant role in this dual existence. Presently, I'm known as someone exploring Bharata Natyam, which brings me immense joy. However, there's a misconception that I've abandoned traditional Bharata Natyam because I don't showcase performances or share photos on social platforms. While this assumption is natural, it's unfortunate as it affects the opportunities I receive, sometimes missing out on important projects.

 

There seems to be a divide in the performance spaces I'm invited to, based on preconceived notions about the type of work I do. Although I'm not driven to prove anything to the world, it's disheartening to encounter these assumptions and limitations. Nevertheless, I take comfort in the fact that my traditional dance training remains deeply ingrained within me, a personal testament to its enduring significance. Bharata Natyam is my means of expression—it's woven into the fabric of my being, inseparable from who I am.


5) Are there any upcoming projects you are particularly excited about that you can share with us?


I'm eagerly anticipating my involvement in a Tamil play with a theatre company based in Chennai. As for my dance endeavors, I'll be immersing myself in fully movement-based projects. There's an array of concepts waiting to be explored. My upcoming solo project will place a strong emphasis on movement, without the inclusion of spoken word, as I've already delved deeply into that aspect. It's an opportunity for me to push my boundaries within a form I'm continuously engaged in, seeking new challenges and avenues for artistic expression.


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