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Which Devi Shakti avatar do you relate to?

Rukmini Vijayakumar

Artistic director Raadha kalpa dance company Director of Lshva, Dancer, choreographer, actor

1 min read

Rukmini Vijayakumar is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer and actress who tours the world to give performances and conduct classical dance workshops. Her moves and expressions keep her audiences enthralled not only on stage, but on social media as well. Rukmini feels that her live performances on the digital platform make art more accessible to dance enthusiasts and artistes. Stree Shakti for her is consciousness that brings everything into being. Watch the video to know more.

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What does Stree Shakti mean to you?
I work largely with ideas within Indian philosophy and I’ve done and made a lot of work on Devi Parvati, Saraswati. When you say, what does Stree Shakti mean to me, I think it’s the embodiment of that idea of supreme consciousness that exists within all of us. When we say ‘stree’ I don’t necessary think just feminine or masculine. It’s the divinity that exists within everything be it an object or a person – everything that is there in the world. That consciousness that brings everything into being is Stree Shakti.

 

How do you describe UR relationship with the 9 Devis?

Each of the nine devi’s represents different aspects of life and we have these different forms or avatars to remind us of that divine presence or that consciousness that’s there. Just taking Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga – Goddess Durga is present whenever we want power. In the world we yearn for power, we yearn to control things; we yearn for mastery – that is divinity. We yearn for knowledge, we want to have a good education, we want to excel in academia and that becomes Saraswati. As Lakshmi – we all want to make more money and have wealth – not just material wealth but wealth of any kind symbolizes Lakshmi. So I think these embodiments of these goddesses are just a reminder for us to respect everything we get in this world


Even when I have problems or facing issues or when things don’t go my way in life or I’m upset about something – I can always find this quiet and solace in dance.


What Devi Shakti avatar do you most relate to & why?

I’m not sure I can choose one, although I like to say Durga, because I like the form and how she is. I’m not sure I can just say I relate to Durga, or just Lakshmi or Saraswati but I think I tend more towards Durga and Parvati because it’s just the Literature I’ve read – these are the goddesses I like to represent the most in my work as a dancer. I also do a lot of things on Saraswati and Sharadha. I haven’t done too much on Lakshmi – perhaps I haven’t read enough about that representation. I love the fierceness and power that Durga represents and I love the quiet, unassuming grace that Saraswati represents in her form, while she’s all-knowing. So yes, those are the two forms I think I most relate to the most.

What role does perform arts play in one’s mental well-being journey?

For me performing arts and specifically dance has helped me find myself in a way. I think all of us have something that helps has be close to one’s true nature. With dance I don’t feel like I am

working a single day. I’m dancing all the time and it is my work. It is my job but I don’t feel encumbered by it at all. I think that freedom dance gives me – offers a lot of mental quiet. Even when I have problems or facing issues or when things don’t go my way in life or I’m upset about something – I can always find this quiet and solace in dance. I think performing arts or any form of art for that matter, can give people respite from their lives and maybe a different way of thinking about things and arts has that capacity to convey ideas in a different manner.

What is UR fitness regimen or go-to exercise to stay mentally & physically fit?

I have an elaborate fitness regimen. I do strength, flexibility and cardiovascular training separately. I also do all my dance basics and the essentials of dance. I do my repertoire practice as well which is 90 minutes. This is cardiovascular exercise but a bit different than doing running or cycling. I follow this routine three times a week. So I do yoga three times a week, strength training three times a week. I probably run or cycle three times a week and practice my basic dance three times a week.

How has dance helped UR body, why do you consider it UR superpower?

Dance has given my body a means of expression which I wouldn’t have if I was just exercising. Obviously exercising keeps my body healthy which I can do without dancing. But dance has given my body a language and something I can communicate. The things I can’t say with words – I can say with dance.

What gives you the most strength?

I derive my strength from my family – my parents, my husband and my brother. They enable strength within me. They provide me with unconditional support and are always behind me. But I’m also aware that strength comes from within and I think dance gives me strength and gives me the power to take on challenges which I wouldn’t otherwise.

What is UR relationship with food and what is UR diet like?

I don’t follow any particular diet and I don’t deny myself any chocolate cakes or chocolates or sweets that I like, but I do go little less on heavy carbs and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I also eat a lot of grains like lentils. There are no restrictions as such. And I think moderation is the key. This is what works for me.

I eat what I like during the day and I eat small meals, because I’m dancing. I cannot eat a large meal so I can’t eat dosa, idli or vada for breakfast so I just have something light like avocado on toast or upma (a small amount with less spice in it). I eat heavy meals during the day time. My diet includes a lot of sprouts, smoothies, dal, salads and brown rice. I don’t eat white rice at all.

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What has dance taught U in life, how and what did it heal for U?

Dance has taught me numerous things. It’s taught me to be resilient, how to take criticism well and an understanding that happiness lies within me and it’s a choice that I need to make. It has taught me that I can find inspiration from all around and it’s also taught me to let go of things easily and not hold on. One of the best lessons I’ve learnt from dancing is the ability to lift judgment – judgment of others and judgment of myself. These things that we perceive that are us, the things that we define of ourselves like the clothes I wear, the way I dance or the house I live in are not really things that define me.

What’s UR message to the world to stay optimistic during COVID?

This is a very difficult time that we all are facing together. However, each one has their own set of problems to deal with. But what’s really helped me, is to stay in the present and to look forward to what a particular day has to offer. So take each day as it comes and try to stay focused on what you can do today. Set small achievable goals and this will keep you going.

What do you consider as UR blessings?

I have innumerable blessings but my biggest blessings are my dance, my family and my body (my hands and legs) that allows me to dance – It is a blessing in my life from the Divine.

What is UR powerful message to all the wonderful women that are inspired by U?

I’m thankful that women find my work inspirational. I’m honored that you like my work and it’s one of the things I’m grateful for.

Five women U admire

1. My mother

2. My grandmother

3. My aunt

4. My dance teachers (there are three of them)

5. Many women have inspired me. It’s difficult to name just five of them

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