Passage to India
Yusuf Najafi (www.metroweekly.com)
October 23, 2008
Aniruddhan Vasudevan started dancing when he was 6 years old. Twenty years later, it’s become a vocation. ”My family is very interested in the arts, and they thought I should learn something,” says the 26-year-old native and resident of Chennai, India, who adds that when he dances, he feels free.
”I feel more comfortable dancing than when I’m in any other space. I tell people that I’m more fully me when I’m dancing, because I just let go. It’s the most comfortable and soothing space to be in.”
Local residents can see Vasudevan perform this weekend during the finale of the Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company’s Fall Festival of Indian Arts, which kicked off in early October at the Lincoln Theatre.
Local gay choreographer Singh first introduced Vasudevan to D.C. audiences during last year’s festival. Singh was inspired by Vasudevan’s ability to address contemporary issues such as war and the environment, because most Indian dance narratives usually focus on Indian mythology and epic Indian books.
”[Vasudevan] has found this recording of music, that was sung by an Indian vocalist for a U.N. meeting in 1940s, promoting peace, in the U.S., to create this new work ‘Ananyam,’ which means the state of being without another,” Singh says. ”He’s found a contemporary way to ask, ‘How can one person be free when there’s so much suffering?”’
“They really are considered the gold standard of the art,” Singh said. “I come from the lineage of their teaching and so it’s great to be able to celebrate them.”
In addition to exploring politics through dance, Vasudevan is also an advocate for gay and lesbian equality in India.
”Sometimes people outside of India assume that because people imagine India comes with tradition and conservatism, they think it is probably much harder,” Vasudevan, who identifies as ”queer,” says. ”But I think that sort of comparison doesn’t hold. Right now we have a very powerful gay and lesbian movement, which I am a part of. We are fighting India’s anti-sodomy laws in the Delhi High Court, so it’s very exciting in that it’s a moment of change.”
By Yusuf Najafi in Metro Weekly.