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My mother helped me carve islands of stillness from where my dance emerged: Alarmel Valli

Leading up to Mother’s Day, Chennai-based and internationally acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer-choreographer-teacher Alarmel Valli engaged in a conversation titled My Mother: My Constant Companion in Dance with Akhila Krishnamurthy, founder, Aalaap.

The conversation centred around Valli’s mother, Uma Muthukumaraswamy — or simply, ‘amma’ — who was integral in honing and shaping her as an artiste. She remained a fellow traveller in her daughter’s passion and pursuit of dance. In the Instagram Live session, Valli talked about how her mother instilled the importance of rigour, teaching her to always seek perfection in everything she did. Then there was the introduction to literature and letting her discover the world of books. The conversation also resonated because of its universal quality, becoming in a sense, a manual of sorts for mothers and artistes at the same time.

Fascinating amongst the stories was a story on how Valli’s mother taught her the art and the importance of just “being”. “Dancers need to recognise the importance of leisure to be able to deep dive into their arts. My mother helped me carve out for myself islands of stillness from where my dance emerged,” she said. The audience was thoroughly engaged, sharing their own memories of ‘amma’ in the comments. On request, Valli also recited a couple of verses from 15th-century composer Annamacharya’s Telugu Padam.

She also spoke about the frenetic and feverish pace that we all function in and reinstated the need to detox, and take a digital break every now and then, especially for artistes, is to find that spot of quiet from where it is possible to create something beautiful and meaningful.

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