Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Premiere of rehab

Going on last is stressful. You watch each group go in, you hear the applause and then they come out and the next group goes in. It didn't help that every group that came out said, "Whoa, there was A LOT of people in there!" Anxiety that started 2 days before the show continued growing till it formed a huge knot in my throat that by the time the group before us headed in I swear I almost threw up. Thank God I had Rathi with me. But I could tell that Rathi was nervous too.

We took a huge deep breath and exhaled forcefully. "Whoosh!" We did that three times trying to force all the butterflies out. We shook our limbs hoping to shake away all the nerves. It was coming, it was near. This was it, the 2 month of prep, the 5 years I haven't performed in Kuala Lumpur, the first time being on stage as independent artistes, the first time being on stage as a mother.

So much friggin pressure.

But, just before we went in to standby I took Rathi and told her that this was for us. rehab was for us. From the beginning, we agreed to just have fun and not have any expectations. This was a special piece. It was us. From start to finish, we wanted to show you who we were and who we are now.

Rathi and January.

We held each other tightly before going on to sync our energies and the tears started welling. We pulled away and said ok, here we go...

We walked to our spots, the lights came on and everything that happened after that was surreal. Before we realised it, it was over. We had done it.

After we took our bow we saw a sea of familiar faces, all with tears in their eyes. They knew, they understood how long it had taken for us to get here and they understood how important this piece was to us. Then our tears came and it was beautiful. Everyone seemed to take home a little piece of us, our heart and that was exactly what we wanted to give. We didn't have anything to hide anymore, we were healed.

I don't have to feel uncomfortable the next time someone asks me whether I am still dancing. I can stand tall on both feet and confidently say, yes.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Master Class ‘rehab’ Tari ‘14

Yesterday we kicked off ‘rehab’ with two Master classes under the Tari ‘14 Dance Festival in ASWARA. The response was nothing short of ridonkulous. The first session involved 50 participants from Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines and of course we had many locals as well. We shared a little about the creative process that led to ‘rehab’ and taught them some Odissi and Bharata Natyam techniques. Then we split them up into 6 groups and gave them a task. After 15 minutes there was a showing in silence and with music and we had a group of 7 year kids from Convent Bukit Nanas to help choose the best group. The entire 75 minute session felt light, easy and everyone seemed pretty into the workshop. We were very happy.

After a short 15 minute break we were told that the next session was going to be held upstairs. When we walked into the main studio, we were slightly puzzled as to why we were given such a huge space. We were then informed that over 80 people had registered for our session. Now that’s a turnout! I was a little curious as to how many people would show up for our session but 130 people in a span of 3 hours was amazeballs!

Seeing that there were more company dancers that attended our second session we decided to teach them a slightly more complicated routine. Little did we realize that by teaching a more complicated routine, we would have to repeat this a few times, which was incredibly exhausting. I think I even pulled my groin slightly.

All in all, it was a beautiful way to start the ball rolling. All the sharing and exchanging of energy was so positive and it was a great way to be introduced back into the dance scene.

On a separate note, we came out in the Star yesterday. Click here to read the interview.

Hope to see all of you at the show today! IT'S TODAY!!! 


Thursday, November 6, 2014


Two months ago the universe called me back to the dance studio. I created a space for me at home and started slowly. First with just listening to old dance music, then sitting down and going through hand gestures and finally standing up and letting my body memory work its magic. It's incredible how if you don't think too much the body knows what to do and all you need to do is trust it and go along with where the movement takes you. I'm not going to lie, it was hard. My hands, feet and body felt very heavy. It was difficult to articulate and move with the ease I had a few years ago.

But I kept at it, social media played a huge part in this. I would post only 15 seconds of something, 15 seconds, it wasn't too long, I could still look good in 15 seconds. In 15 seconds you didn't see the hyperventilating, you didn't see the cramps, you didn't see the mistakes. When people asked for more, I made more videos. But then I realised that perhaps I needed to stop making videos with the old music. The old music was a thing of the past, I am now in the present. I don't belong to any dance company. I was free to dance to any tune I wanted to.

But how was I supposed to do this? I had no music to call my own. So I commissioned some items from India and spent 2 weeks learning these pieces. It was no easy feat. I had not learned items in over 6 years, but I leaped over the hurdles placed in front of me and succeeded in learning them. My body ached like it had never ached before, be young again. But this pain was needed, it was needed to push me to my extreme so that I could heal and come back stronger.

What else was I going to do with the space, I thought. So I messaged a friend and asked her if she would like to spend an hour or two every fortnight just to bodyjam and do phrases of her old contemporary pieces. You know, just so I could keep my body moving and stir some creative juices.

One thing led to another and she asked me if I was interested in dancing with her for Tari 14, a dance festival hosted by ASWARA. Without thinking, I said yes. This friend was Rathi.

Rathimalar Govindarajoo was my very first teacher when I started dancing at the age of eight. I still remember the old bungalow in Titiwangsa, we were all standing in the porch when a girl walks in. She was 15 years old and my favourite dancer. She was so freaking sexy on stage. Those of you who have had the pleasure of watching her dance knows what I am talking about. She was like fireworks! Her quick, sharp movements full of power and yet soft and fluid like silk. I want to dance like her one day, 8-year old me silently wished.

So I jumped, like I always do, into the deep end not knowing what to expect. We started after the adi masam period, and it has been 2 months since then. Both of us did not know what we were going to create and we did not know what to expect, all we knew was that we were going to enjoy the process of creating and that this was going to be a fun project, OUR fun project.

We decided on the name 'rehab' because dance has always made us feel good. Call it therapeutic, but after every dance rehearsal, we'd always go home satisfied, fulfilled and relaxed. We also discovered in the process that the both of us were so similar yet polar opposites and thought that it would be interesting to play with this subject, almost like a parallel universe. Where I saw myself in her and her in me.

We premiere this piece next Thursday, November 13th at 5pm at ASWARA and it is hard not to be nervous. But this entire journey together has been nothing short of phenomenal. This would be my first time on stage since the kids and then it hit me. Rathi had no doubt in her mind that I would be able to dance. Her confidence in me is and will forever be one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

I left Sutra in 2009 and have dabbled in and out of dance. I got married, had two kids and have not danced since then. And yet, this crazy woman thought of me and thought of doing something together. She drives to my house for every rehearsal, has the patience to layan my kids when they don't nap (we try to rehearse when the kids nap), and has just renewed my love for dancing and made me believe that I can still dance.

Rathi, I love you. I am so, so honoured to be sharing the stage with you and I am so happy that 'rehab' has been born out of so much love. To infinity and beyond...

Nov 13