| | |

William Blake and Bharata Natyam: Beyond (Innocence and Experience)

\” To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.\”
by William Blake

Inspiration for creating dance or dance-theatre performances comes from many sources: from ideas, dreams, from the music that we may want to use. While William Blake\’s work does not immediately make you think of Bharata Natyam, reading his poems and looking at his superb engravings and illustrations always gave me a strong sense of movement and wonder.

When I was 17 and looking for a subject to explore for my highschool graduation paper, I discovered William Blake by reading his biography written by Peter Ackroyd. It was a revelation and it led to a passion of exploring the many semantic layers carefully placed in Blake\’s work, as well as the numerous things one discovers about oneself  while trying to delve into literary analysis of the mythical-archetypal type. Many years and a couple degrees later, the interest in Blake is still as vivid.

Over the years, my explorations of Blake\’s prophetic book \”Jerusalem\” led me to write, direct and appear in a drama called \”Jerusalem: or Everyone is again Liberty\”, performed in Cabella, Ligure in Italy, September 2002 for an audience of about 4000, and more importantly including my spiritual Guru, mrs Nirmala Shrivastava, or Shri Mataji.

Later on, the Songs of Innocence and of Experience were on my mind once again, as they are an ideal introduction to Blake\’s poems and do not require too much additional explanation. The performance that resulted of these musings on the essence of what lies beneath the opposition of the two extremes of human nature, after one goes from blissful childlike innocence through pain, despair, loss, even death as a stage of becoming .

While still in India, the following performance came into being: \”Beyond (Innocence and Experience)\”. The focus of this theatre -dance experience is using the language of Bharata Natyam and the poems of William Blake to immerse the audience in an intimate experience of feeling the emotions and nuances of Blake\’s work. On November 28th 2007, I was fortunate to perform this for the first time at the open air auditorium in Delhi (Stage decor & in collaboration with Naresh Kapuria) to mark Blake\’s 250th birth celebration. And a year later, in 2008 I took part in the \”Blake in Lambeth\” festival, again on Blake\’s birthday, steps away from the house he lived in for more than ten years (and where he wrote The Songs of Innocence and of Experience).

 Here is the website of the Blake in Lambeth festival. It was a very unusual experience to perform in this venue, at 3 Stags lit only by large candles and street lights shining through the curtain -free windows. The audience was very close, at the same level, and almost able to look into my eyes while the poems of William Blake were captivating in a simple and truly innocent way.

\”Beyond (Innocence and Experience)\” remains one of my favorite performances and it will hopefully soon be seen here in Maine, as the beauty of fall starts to envelop us.

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. This is so beautiful, Anca. We would love to see it! Please keep us posted.

    We were sorry to miss you at the Common Ground Fair 🙁 Nostalgic about meeting you there last year. Blessings to you and the family! Jody, Steve and Fiona.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *