Two years later, stepping foot onto the stage, it's hard not to reflect on all the life moments that have taken place in between my last time on stage. My babies were born, family members ushered out of this world, global transformation and more so much more.
Returning to spaces that we frequented regularly has brought a sense of magic hasn't it? What did I feel? Immense gratitude and a sense of feeling at home again.
When I was invited by Nova Dance to present for Discover Dance & Baycrest @ Home, programming in partnership with T.O Live, I knew that it was an opportunity that aligned with who I was today as an artist. It was a sincere privilege to bring my art forward after my own personal transitions in life.
I remember asking host, Neena Jayarajan, " Are you looking for traditional Kathak, or something specific?" She replied, "We are looking for Reshmi Chetram, wherever she is in her artistic journey, whatever that means, that's what we are looking for." I exhaled.
You know that feeling you get at times, when you feel an urge to explore unknown waters? How do I take what I've learned, paired together with what I have experienced and translate that to an audience?
We need time to ruminate with our visions, our vessels and what we want to communicate. In a world of instant everything; the art of curation can sometimes get distorted. However when we feel something so deeply in your soul, something that is asking to come through us, we give it the time it needs. Then one day, the vision clicks. In my world, that took over a year of quiet, stillness, silence ( & it's still going.)
I've been a storyteller all my life, the word Kathak, translates to a storytelling artform. However if you ask me to speak on a microphone I will probably try to walk away as fast as I possibly can away from the situation. Then there was being on stage as an artist blending music, movement, conversation, story & life - I felt at ease. It was almost an out of body experience that felt far from entertainment and more like healing; genuine human connection.
I was welcomed there as a mother, artist, grieving daughter, millennial who is in the midst of evolving in life & with my art. The Nova Dance team, under the guidance of Artistic Director, Nova Bhattacharya, has done a remarkable job bringing artists to the main stages & showcasing their work & art as it is.
The conversation between myself, Neena & audience members consisted of topics that hit home:
Mothers returning to work.
Having a career in the arts
Dementia & caregiving.
Indo -Caribbean identity and North Indian Classical dance.
& so much more.
Truthfully, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to do the segment as it was October 20th & my mother's 1st death anniversary was October 22nd. I was quite emotional. However, what beautiful timing to be able to make an offering, return to the stage and share my art, my story and honor my mothers legacy by sharing parts of our journey together? It was one of those beautiful synchronicities & it ushered me into the next few days of ritual, prayer and offerings for my mothers soul during her death anniversary.
To the Nova Dance, Baycrest & T.O Live teams, thank you for having me as a featured artist & for curating such meaningful programming that brings the rich diversity of Toronto performing arts to the mainstages.
T E S T I M O N I A L
"As someone who also has 2 kids, is a dancer, and also cared for her ailing parent. I felt deeply connected to Reshmi and her journey as both a dancer, mother and caregiver. I appreciated her professional demeanor, and ability to tell her story with grace, and humility. Whether through our conversations, or choices in what she presented artistically. I for once, felt like someone understood the challenges i had often felt very alone in juggling. Her willingness to share the challenges, and the success over her years, was refreshing. I think she made a real connection to many of the audience members, even brought some to tears. I often had to walk off camera because of my own emotions. She handled the medium of live streaming from a stage with complete ease. She not only connected with people as an artist, but as a human with real emotions, and that is something I hope to carry with me with all future Discover Dance artists. Thank you for sharing so much of your art and yourself, on behalf of Nova Dance, T.O live and Baycrest. "
- Neena Jayarjan, Host
Stay up to date with future performances & features: https://www.novadance.ca/discover-dance