Versatile actor and talented classical danseuse Rukmini Vijayakumar recently performed on stage; that, too, after a pandemic-induced gap of nine months in ISHWARA.
And while we have seen, and loved, many of Vijayakumar's dance performances till date, we thought that through ISHWARA, she forced us to reconsider the meaning of dance itself.
In ISHWARA, Vijayakumar made us ask: what if the purpose of art is more than just satisfying an artist or enthralling an audience?
What if the purpose of art is to uplift when there is sorrow, to embolden when there is fear, to scare when there is a threat, or to soothe when there is pain?
What if being a true artist is having the ability, and the spirit, to create? To persevere? To show up?
There is a lot that can be said to appreciate the rich, nuanced, informed, classical content of Rukmini Vijayakumar's performances, including in ISHWARA. However, the fact that this was Vijayakumar's first performance after the passing away of her biggest fan and supporter, her extraordinary father, and the late husband of her mother Vijayalakshmi Vijayakumar- made ISHWARA a more significant performance than any other.
For her most ardent followers, she redefined dance and the purpose of art by showing up on stage. And then, she redefined it again, by being the extraordinary dancer that she is; because as hard as it must have been to show up without her most ardent follower in the audience this time, Rukmini Vijayakumar never just shows up on stage; she conquers the spaces which she inhabits.
Rukmini Vijayakumar showed us that during moments of loss, the pursuit and completion of art acquires a near-spiritual significance. In those moments, art becomes a manifestation of a defiant, brave, independent and resilient spirit that chooses self expression, love for art, the practice of self love, creativity, and the iron-resolve to keep going over everything else.
What a brave, beautiful and artistic danseuse: Rukmini Vijayakumar.