“A Day in the Life” with Bharatanatyam artiste Bhavajan Kumar

When Bhavajan Kumar started dancing at 7 years old, he had no idea that it would become such a big part of his life. His grandmother had noticed his inclination towards the artform and suggested that he start learning. But as the classes went on, his hunger and passion for dance grew beyond the classroom and eventually beyond the country.

Right after high school, Bhavajan went to India with the intention of visiting for six months and then returning to Canada for university. What was supposed to be a short fling with dance turned out to be a marriage. In India, Bhavajan found a culture so intertwined with the arts, where dance is as common as walking and Carnatic music is as common as speaking. It was exactly what he was looking for.

Moving to India became a huge milestone in Bhavajan’s life and a fundamental aspect of his identity. It was his first time living on his own, away from his parents, and everything familiar. As he started getting more and more opportunities to perform and to learn, India became home.

Initially, Bhavajan became attracted to the glamour of Bharatanatyam in Chennai. The aesthetics, the beauty of the movements, and the appeal of being on stage in front of hundreds of people was alluring. But as he started growing as a dancer under the mentorship of Leela Samson and Jyotsna Narayanan, He has become much more interested in understanding and internalizing the philosophical aspect of dance.

To Bhavajan dance is not just movement, or a performance, or even a creative expression. Dance is devotion, and an internalization of the lyrical prayer he is dancing to. Before he does a piece on a particular deity, he will go to the holy site (Kshetram) where that deity resides. He takes in the environment, the mood of the bhaktas, the scent of the oils and ashes which anoint the divine form. He then reads the description and any pertaining literature on that deity/character. Then, on the day of the performance, he offers his art fully to that divine form. It is this connection and offering that Bhavajan defines as the ultimate goal of his dance.

In terms of successes – Bhavajan has many. He has won competitions, awards, and accolades. He has danced in prestigious theatres around the world and gained recognition from many. But according to Bhavajan – It’s one type of success to have millions of people watch you, but it’s a different type of success to find yourself in the art. And to enjoy the process.

-Written by Kumari Mayshark

Bhavajan Kumar - A moment at the end of one of my performances in Chennai
Bhavajan Kumar – A moment at the end of one of my performances in Chennai
Bhavajan Kumar - A photo from Brihadeeshwara temple in Thanjavur. A 2000 year old temple in India
Bhavajan Kumar – A photo from Brihadeeshwara temple in Thanjavur. A 2000 year old temple in India
Bhavajan Kumar - Travelling is an important part of my art. I like to take in the energy of ancient spaces. This is in Varanasi
Bhavajan Kumar – Travelling is an important part of my art. I like to take in the energy of ancient spaces. This is in Varanasi
Bhavajan Kumar - Dancing for children at an orphanage in Pondicherry
Bhavajan Kumar – Dancing for children at an orphanage in Pondicherry
In the classroom
In the classroom
performing with my teacher Ms. Leela Samson
performing with my teacher Ms. Leela Samson
Receiving the Yuva Kala Bharathi title from Bharath Kalachar in Chennai, India
Receiving the Yuva Kala Bharathi title from Bharath Kalachar in Chennai, India
Bhavajan Kumar - With co-dancers from the Spanda dance company in Washington DC during our USA tour of Pastforward in 2016
Bhavajan Kumar – With co-dancers from the Spanda dance company in Washington DC during our USA tour of Pastforward in 2016

What Hood are you in?

I was Born in Etobicoke and grew up in Scarborough. and currently living in Chennai (India) and Toronto!

What do you do?

I am a Bharatanatyam artiste, performer & teacher. An artform from southern India, that was born in the temples and now continues to live on proscenium stages.

What are you currently working on?

Next year marks the Silver jubilee of Spanda Dance Company, this is my teacher Ms Leela Samsons brain child. We will be touring nationally within India & internationally USA and Canada this coming year. We will Revisit her body works spanning across 25 years. I look forward to revisiting older pieces that I have worked on and finding more layers within them.

Where can you find your work?

Bhavajankumar.com which will be launching in the coming months. Or on Facebook @Bhavajankumar. And Youtube.

 

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1749 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography