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Sharing the stage with the ‘Legend’

It is not very often that you see a legend dance on stage and it further more rare to perform and share the stage with a legend. I have been teaching dance in India for almost fifteen years now, and it was always my dream to be on the same stage with the ‘legend’. It was a dream come true for my team members and me when Sneha charity; an NGO that looks after education of people living in the slums, approached us to dance for their fund raising event. This was the opportunity that none of us wanted to miss. It was because we were to share the stage with the legendary Padma Bhushan Dr. Mallika Sarabhai.

I first met Dr. Sarabhai many years back on a social event and I was awestruck with her persona, grace and beauty. She is a true woman of substance. A dancer par excellence, a theater artist, an entrepreneur, a mother, a film actress, you name it and its on here profile. Even after having so many feathers on her cap she is extremely down to earth and generous. I know many people have done articles on her as a dancer and as a traditionally rich human being. But my story is about feeling the high of sharing the stage with marvel like her.

Our show for Sneha charity was decided for a particular suitable date but due to few unforeseen circumstances the dates kept on changing. We were all sad that our opportunity of a lifetime to dance with Dr. Sarabhai was lost. But god was on our side and a new date was fixed again, it was as if sunshine got back to our lives.

On the day of the show and I was trembling, honestly I was very nervous, as Dr. Mallika Sarabhai was going to open the show with her classical piece and I was asked to close the same show. I was to meet her before the event starts and my anxiety was almost killing me. When I came face to face with her, I froze, she I guess understood my state, she welcomed my partner Jesse Randhawa and me with a warm hug and a big smile and said, “I am proud of your work and I am very happy that finally I get to share the stage with you.”

Her grace and ageless beauty was more than that of a Bollywood or a Hollywood star. It was actually me who should have said words like ‘Maam I am honoured to be sharing the stage with you’ but my nervousness was like a child entering a new school. Her comforting voice made me feel relaxed and soon she introduced me to her son and daughter who also happen to be very talented dancers themselves. She was so kind and encouraging with her words towards my kind of International dance forms, that sometimes I wonder why is it that people feel there is always a cold war or so call under currents between Indian classical dancers and Western dancers. Her words still ring in my mind, ‘Oh how I wish I can learn the Tango from you Sandip’. For me these appreciation words coming from a legend are more than even awards. And honestly I feel in my heart ‘How I wish I was even one percent as accomplished dancer as Dr. Mallika Sarabhai.’ She indeed is a true woman of substance.

Soon the show began and I stopped my make up to watch her dance, every eye in the audience was glued to the stage when she moved, twirled and narrated stories after stories in her ever so dynamic and graceful self. Then was my chance to close the show and when my partner Jesse and me stepped onstage I saw her giving me a thumbs up for her support. A standing ovation is what we got and if it was not for that thumbs up I wonder where my nervousness would have taken the show.

Dr. Mallika Sarabhai is a dancer that every choreographer and a dancer looks’ up to and I am no exception. Today she might find my working with international artists a proud thing but for me sharing the stage with her is more of a memory than even choreographing for Britney Spears video or teaching dance to the ‘Queen of Pop’ Madonna. I am glad that I could be on the same platform as hers and I pray to God that soon we must dance the Tango together too. Amen!!!

Artscape By Sandip Soparrkar

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