He’s beautiful in body, mind and soul and this description is something that anyone who knows him will readily agree with. Charles Ma has come a long way from being a college dance-team choreographer to a full-fledged student and performer of the art of Bharatanatyam, and in less than two years, he has travelled through the long journey of being a teacher, a student, a questioner and a re-discoverer of an art that he holds very dearly to his heart.
“Life is a celebration and I’ve come to know that I celebrate it through Bharatanatyam,” Charles tells me as I catch up with him, after his year-long hiatus. “I’ve been in Chennai, re-learning an art form that I think — now looking at the past — I took for granted,” he says.
Studying a completely new style for someone so deeply rooted in the Kalakshetra baani can be quite trying, but Charles has come to love the nuances and complexities of his new obsession — the Vazhuvoor style.
“It feels great as I feel this complete transformation surging through me. Relearning an art form, with the passion for the new, much like a fresh student has helped me come to terms with a lot of insecurities and obstacles that were running me down as a performer, a year ago,” Charles shares.
“I am now a deeper person, more comfortable with me and my art and with a new strange sense of wisdom that is gained only when one offers ones self completely to an art. Everything else takes second place in a hierarchy of importance, sometimes even me — but it feels right and I am at peace, which is all that matters,” he adds.
Charles will be performing as a part of the Karnataka Nrityakala Parishath’s Natarajotsava — 2011 celebrations and so I ask him what Nataraj, as the 'Lord of the Dance' means to him, personally.
“I come from a family that’s Christian in this generation, but my grandmother was a Shaivite, and I think the love for Nataraj or Shiva comes from there. I look at him as Niraguna Parabramha, and thus I see him in everything and everywhere. It has been hard to come to terms with two often opposing faiths — but I have found my balance and that’s where my faith lies,” he signs off.
Pic Credit ©Madhu Shweta, 2009