Says King Vajra to Sage Markandeya, ‘(oh) sinless (one), speak to me about the making of images of deities…’1. ‘Oh King, the one who does not know the art of painting, cannot understand the art of sculpture’, says Markandeya. ‘Please teach me the art of painting, oh master!’ requests the king. Markandeya then begins to explain to the king that without the knowledge of dancing, one cannot learn to paint; without the knowledge of music, it is difficult to understand dance; and without the knowledge of singing, understanding the rules of music is not possible.
The Vishnudharmottara purana highlights the interrelatedness of the arts through the story of King Vajra who wishes to learn sculpture from Markandeya, but is directed to first learn the arts of painting, dancing, music, and singing.
The point of departure for the joint presentation proposal stems from the conference title itself. From the heading ‘Terpsichore and her Sisters: the Relationships between Dance and other Arts’, our focus will be the terms ’and’ and ’Relationships’ themselves – the in-betweenness of art forms and artists, and the actual contact.
We will follow on the tracks of several Indian and Western dance pioneers in the first half of 20th century, such as Uday Shankar, Ram Gopal, Anna Pavlova, La Meri, Ruth St. Denis and their colleagues. In the meeting points of their stylistic and philosophical influences, from the synergy of their respective dance knowledge the whole new century of modern dance emerges. We are looking at the ways in which movement travels from realm to realm (from muses to humans, or like described in the earliest extant Indian dance and drama related text Natyashastra) and from body to body across India, Europe, Russia and United States.
The specific biographic information about each artist will be less elaborated than the diverse ways in which their manifold influences came in contact. Their constant mobility across many states and chances to actively engage into communication with poets, educators, producers and performers of the time gave birth to new artistic expression. Heritage, different stage traditions, and innovations were negotiated constantly and the ideas travelled swiftly and in abundance.
Keywords: interrelatedness of arts and artists, Western modern dance, Indian modern dance, Indian classical dance, Russian ballet, travel, inspiration, cultural contacts.
Ipshita Rajesh is a Bharatanatyam exponent and educator, an Erasmus scholar, and researcher. Her research interests include the interrelatedness of arts as evidenced in the Natyasastra and the Vishnudharmottara purana, two ancient Indian texts, and the process of embodiment in cultural constitution.
Madli Teller is an Estonian choreographer, dance teacher and performer who based her MA dissertation in Folk Art and Culture Anthropology in Estonian Academy of Arts on the issues of gendered dancing in Estonian stage folk dance. Her choreographic work (mostly with dance theatre Tee Kuubis) is greatly influenced by European historical dances and art history. She is currently studying in an international master’s program Choreomundus (Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage).