Barkha X Shreya

Barkha Patel is an award-winning Kathak dancer, educator, and choreographer. And, for me, she’s just a beautiful, creative soul who expresses her visions through her dance.

These are some highlights from our interview:

What does Kathak mean?

Kathak is one of India’s eight classical art forms. It originates specifically from North India; the three main cities are Lucknow, Jaipur, and Banares. Most Indian classical dance forms are story-telling art forms. Kathak is one of those few artforms where its also deeply based in rhythm, where we also speak our rhythms on stage. So we’re not only required to tell stories through emotions and abhinaya – or expressive abilities – but we also must be able to recite compositions live and present them as we dance.

As a painter, we have a process. And I’m curious; when I see Barkha, I see a beautifully finished dance on youtube and Instagram. How do you get to that end full dance? What’s your process?

 I think the process changes, and I’m not so married to one scientific way of approaching it, which I think no artist is in general; we kind of do what we feel, and I think feelings are definitely a huge part of what I end up creating. But the basic kind of outline when I’m beginning a new work – I allow myself that space to be inspired. And usually, it’s visualizing or understanding the external world or trying to understand it. Specifically, currently, it’s been the dichotomies of South-Asian culture: what does it mean to me when I see certain things happening culturally, and I disagree/agree with it? How do I respond, not react, but respond to that? Once that idea takes over, music plays a whole big role; I try to find the most apt music to that thought process. 

I believe art is mediation; dance is mediation. What are your views on that?

I believe that meditation is stillness and art is a meditative experience. And for there to be a better artist, an artist who can reach their inner consciousness is to become still. I think as we’re moving – as I move, as I dance, as I create – its a meditative experience. But to me, art is complete stillness too. I am still in my dance in certain ways. Still, then the actual sitting in one place and allowing everything to collapse around you, to me is what meditation is. And my art is an extension of that; how do I, in motion, create this stillness.

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