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Dancing to a new tune

Image: Meera Production, Supplied.

Dancing to a new tune

Driven, committed to her passion and extraordinarily talented, Aarti Bajaj is a woman to be reckoned with. The artistic director behind 'Meera' sits down with MiNDFOOD to discuss the power of dance.

Dancing to a new tune

How long have you been dancing professionally?

I have been dancing in a professional institution, under and alongside some amazing artists and dance educators from a very young age of 8. I am 35 now and I don’t remember a day which has passed by without dancing, acting or writing.

What do you love about dance?

The one thing that so deeply connects me to dance and leaves me longing for more each time I finish a rapporteur, a session or a performance is its strength and capacity to bring my hidden, unspoken emotions out in such artistic, profound manner. For me, dance is the language of the soul. And each time I dance, I feel my soul has been heard a little more.

What is your favourite dance to perform?

I love all kinds of dancing. But if I had to pick a favourite style, it would be the Indian Contemporary style of dancing. And my all-time loved dance piece is an Indian Classical Dance Item called “Padam – Krishnani Begane Baro”. It’s a beautiful expressional dance depiction of a mother/son love between little Krishna and his mother Yashodha.

How did the Meera production come about?

I was 18-19 when I was a given a little part in a TV series about MEERA back home in India. The artist within me became curious and wanted to know more about this intense story. I started researching. The more I read, the more I found how multi-layered, feminist MEERA was. It needed a lot of research. Life was happening at the same time. I got engaged, married, migrated to Australia, studying, finishing a few other academic degrees, working full time, had Kids, But MEERA never left me. April 2017 is when I officially announced the launch of MEERA. From then (a one-woman army) to now, we had approx a cast and crew of 300 in our Gold Coast, sold-out run and now coming to Auckland, we have approx 150 cast and crew both from Australia and New Zealand, the majority are the local artists from Auckland itself.

Why have you decided to incorporate so many cultures into the production?

For me, the only way we can bring inclusion and acceptance in wider society is by embracing different cultures and races. And as an artist, different cultures, races, ethnicities is very intriguing. Each of them brings more of their own unique flavour, new spice and zest to a creative product or a journey which in turn makes the outcome more intense, creative, new, original and above all a fair inclusive approach towards arts and artists.

How do you think dance helps break boundaries?

Dance provokes emotions. It doesn’t differentiate between race, gender, cast or culture. We all feel the same. Dance helps us understand this powerful oneness of the entire human race. It connects us all to the realm and energy beyond our imagination and thus bringing us to the realization that all these boundaries that we have made don’t exist. We are all one and that is all.

You also compete in triathlons in your spare time, tell me about this?

Yes, I love doing triathlons, half marathons, bike races, etc because it truly tests my endurance and capacity to not give up no matter what the circumstances is. It also teaches me discipline and continuous perseverance as to these races without getting injured one needs to train and eat healthy on a daily basis.

The most striking memory is from my first ever triathlon that I competed in Kingscliff, NSW, Australia. The ocean was rough. I had not practiced much in the tri swimsuit, therefore, had to stick to just swim in the skins. The water was freezing. It was the hardest swim I think I have ever done. With each swim stroke, I was ready to give up, but something within me forced me to keep going. When reached the finish of swim leg and running towards the transition to the bike leg, the legs felt like jelly, had to take the wet skins off while I was running jelly feet towards my bike. It taught me the power of not giving up. In these races, you see men and women both helping each other put these tri suits on, you strip into different gears to keep going in different racing legs. It helps you understand, this is just a body and we humans are beyond just skin and flesh.

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