These are the words that form my new solo, Rituals of Faith and Imagination.
Here’s the trailer to it:
For those interested in such things, we are in the festival of Navaratri, the nine nights of the Goddess. Tonight is the last of the three to Durga, warrior goddess and presiding deity of kalari (and all martial arts). Tomorrow begin the three to Lakshmi, she of splendour, sweetness and abundance. The final three are dedicated to Saraswati, she of wisdom, learning, the arts, subtle knowledge, she who gave us vac, speech, words.
Here I was last Navaratri, helping clean the kalari in preparation for the annual kalari puja that falls on the final three days of the festival.
With my move from Kerala back to the West, this Navaratri is a much less communal affair, a solitary, internal practice.
I was thinking of Saraswati’s vac in rehearsal this morning. Since my return from India at the beginning of the year, I have been developing a solo, drawing on my time at the kalari. In between and part of the elements of ritual are nine words, from two inspirations. It was only after they’d been chosen it occurred to me that the number nine is considered auspicious.
HOPE LOVE FLOW PASSION SOFTNESS SEA KINDNESS EARTH GRATITUDE
These nine words and fifty two letters have become a major part of my life since last spring.
An imaginary grid holds the letters in space and the game of the solo is to spell the words, tracing them exactly, in their various predetermined weavings.
The words may not be Sanskrit but they have weight. I remember Carlos, my yoga philosophy teacher, talking of Saraswati’s gift of vac, the weight and power of words. The resonance of these nine has shifted and deepened over the months I have been dancing them. I don’t understand quite what they mean. I just know that each time I dance them, I come out feeling different: cleaner, stronger, purified somehow.
When I went to India for my first long adventure in 2009, a lot of people expressed surprise that I, supposedly a yogini, wasn’t going to study asana (postures). I went to study philosophy and meditation, to make dance and learn kalari. For me, there has never been a real differential in these practices. Practice is practice, be it my yoga on my mat, aikido in Swansea, kalari in Kerala, sitting meditation or dancing what comes out of all of it.
Practice is practice.
Practice is practice.
This solo has been perhaps the deepest practice of them all. There’s a simplicity and purity in turning up, regularly and alone, to dance it, whether my body is aching or energised, whether I’m feeling optimistic or broken hearted, whether I’m lethargic or enthusiastic.
The next two performances are at Y FfwrnesTheatre in Llanelli, the theatre that adopted me on my return from Kerala. It’s at 18:00 on October 18th and 19th. It’s free. If you can’t be with me in body, be with me in spirit.
The words are hidden in the solo, known only to me. But I wonder what moves the watchers.
From Lucy, with love.