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Artist of the Week – Satishkoemar Makhan

September 3, 2018 by · No comments

Interview with the dancer and choreographer Sri Satishkoemar Myre-Makhan by Dessislava Berndt
Proofreading: Polina Georgieva

Satish, you will be for the second time with your dancers in Wuppertal. How was your first time here?

It was an excellent, heartwarming, welcome feeling. The audience, musicians and the Hall’s energy were so open, that we- the dancers and I, could give ourselves up to it completely and express the art the way it is supposed to be.

Satishkoemar Myre-Makhan at Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal, photo:desenze

We, as artist / Dance Company, are there with our art to show, as well as to spread the energy. So the audience was filled with happiness. And that’s what I felt during the performance and after.

The piece you will present in Wuppertal is called “Indian Swan Lake”. Why did you choose the “Swan lake” ballet composed by Tchaikovsky for another interpretation?

Since I was young I’ve admired the ballet dancers and performances. The one that I was really touched by was “Swan Lake”. And during that period I was learning Bharatanatyam. While watching the ballet I was thinking: “how could this be with Indian dancing?” Not that I wanted to change the concept. I love ballet in its original way. But as an Indian dance student I was already thinking about changing the choreography in the Indian dance way. So, for years it was turning around in my head. And then I thought: why not making an Indian piece of it!


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I’ve explored many ways to create, but not to copy & paste. I want it my way. So, the original ballet will not get any harm. This is because I respect choreographers who create from their heart. And sure, the storyline stays almost intact in my story. So, all audience can relate to it, even now it is with Indian dancing and music. The first creation was in 2014, and it was a great success.

Satish Dance Company, photo: Ron Hey (Ronnos)

Now we are bringing it back after 4 years. This was possible with the support of Prasanth and Yalini (PYS Eventmanagement). During a dinner in 2017 they asked me if I could do a performance which is open for all audience. Some people like classic dance or Bollywood or contemporary. Why not mix everything in one performance? So I was exited again and started to look for a dance group. Now we are so far, on September 8 we have a try out in Amsterdam and on 28 September will be the premiere in Wuppertal. Two further performances will follow on 6th and 7th of October in Amsterdam.

Satish Dance Company, photo: Ron Hey (Ronnos)

We also will show significant art form of our south Indian classical art before the main program.

How do you create a piece?

Sometimes I am inspired by the music that I hear, or from the storyline itself. And sometimes I let dancers move freely and get inspired by the movement. I connect my mind and heart with the movement and the energy.

Who inspires you?

I get inspired by many things. Mostly it works when I decide to make a performance and the theme is clear, I open my spiritual sense, and call all energies, movements and surroundings that can give me inspiration to create. It can be also a person, music, movies emotion etc. For Indian Swan the storyline is clear, but the music and dancing are mix of Indian dances. Yes, I try to connect all the dancing and music.

Satish Dance Company, photo: Ron Hey (Ronnos)

How did you get into dance and your own dance company?

The moment I was touched by great happiness was when I saw dancing on tv when I was young. I tried to recreate the movements that I saw by trying to dance.

Satish Dance Company, photo: Ron Hey (Ronnos)

I was born on June 30, 1975 in Parimaribo, Surinam (a former colony of the Netherlands). My parents are both descendants of Indian migrants who came via Surinam to the Netherlands. It’s unknown which area in India they came from exactly or how many generations ago.

Mr. Makhan and Mrs. Kamlawatie gave me the name of Satishkoemar Makhan. I am their fifth and youngest child. I have three sisters and one brother.

At the age of four we moved to the Netherlands because my father’s family had already immigrated. They offered my father a job. The Netherlands became my second home country. From what I remember we weren’t raised very devoutly in the Hindu faith. I learned the basic gods and basic principals of Hinduism. My parents didn’t give me a very strict upbringing and we were free to choose the path of life we preferred. This side of my liberal upbringing had its advantages, but subsequently there are many sides of our religion which are unfamiliar to me.

Satishkoemar Myre-Makhan at Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal, photo: desenze

On special days we watched videos of Indian Bollywood movies. Most of them were movies with a religious or spiritual theme concerning mythological stories of the world of the gods. I was always fascinated by the dances, the clothing, the jewelry, and the music, which sounded different from the familiar Bollywood songs. These were mystical noises, sounds and tones which touched me deeply and transported me into a dream world! I imagined that I could already dance those magical dances and make such divine music! I mimicked the movements secretly. This was the start of what has become the passion of my life. I danced every day and lost myself in the movies.

On my 15th birthday my uncle gave me a ticket for a performance. It was the first time I saw a life performance of Indian dance. It was a group from Orissa (East India) and I was immediately smitten. In the intermission I found a flyer of a dance teacher looking for students for Indian dance. I signed up at once for a trial class and remained there for three years. After that I auditioned for a performance. After being accepted I received a scholarship to do my program with them. My passion for dance grew in leaps and bounds and in the year 2000 in Delhi (India) I was initiated as a dancer and dance teacher. I turned my passion into a part-time job. Besides dancing I am also a home care nurse.

Dancing has become a huge part of my life. It’s more than just passion, it’s my way of life, and it keeps me in balance.

What is Bharatanatyam?

Bharatanatyam is over 3000 years old and is a pure classical dance form. The techniques, rituals and dance numbers are derived from the old Vedas: the ancient scripts and verses. They are drenched with themes of life such as love, struggle, hate and envy. But also devotion, prayer, ecstasy, moods, feelings and so on. To me it is not just an entertaining dance art that you perform mindlessly.

Through my years of experience, I‘ve understood why Bharatanatyam is elevated to art. The more knowledge you accumulate while learning the meaning of the stories in the dances, the more dance turns into art. Making a successful performance is like finding a treasure chest. Not in the material sense, but you are still laden with richness of new ideas, information and insights which seem inexhaustible.

For example, you’ve learned a dance item, you form a frame, a basis, where you lay a foundation. Then you shift to the mood and look at the character that you’re playing. What emotions belong here? Where does it lead?

So you create an environment around you. Who is there with you, which raga and music do you need? This way you build layer by layer until you have a complete picture. You create a piece where you literally take the public with you to your creation. To me that is the ultimate art of Bharatanatyam. That the public or spectator can take the story you formed into his or her own imagination, creating a circle of contact.

Bharatanatyam is art to me. It conveys basically a feeling of tranquility and aesthetics. When the audience first experiences this kind of art they feel drawn into a state of receptivity. If people get more exposed to this kind of dance art they often experience an emotional response which is a reflection of one’s inner self. As practitioners of this form of art we are the medium, an important intermediary to the audience.

The dancers are the foundation, creating a bridge between the art form and the spectators. It’s impossible to experience the dance in its pure form if it’s presented without the right foundation. If Rembrandt hadn‘t had the in-depth knowledge of how to portray people, he would not have become one of the world’s most famous painters!

A Bharatanatyam dancer is an artist who connects the world of the gods with the earth. The dancer strives for balance and brings people closer to a godly experience. Therefore, I – as a dance guru, together with my students, take a high responsibility upon us when we learn a dance or perform it. When I dance or teach, I give a part of myself in the transfer of the art to the audience. I stay hopeful that this art will be passed on to the next generation. This is the way that it started more than 3000 years ago and I believe that it should be carried on this way.

Could you tell us something about the dancers?

Sure. Some dancers never had danced before; once they worked with me for a wedding dance piece. And then I saw some people who really were passionate when they dance/move. And because most of my dance company dancers only want to dance the classical Indian dance, I was short on dance crew. So I asked if the wedding dance group want to perform. They all said YES, and I started to practice with them. They are not trained in any Indian dance form but they created dance movements that I also got inspired by.

And I related the movements to the Indian contemporary dancing. They reached a level of dancing where I‘m satisfied and so, they are dancing next to my trained classical dancers. We are basically an amateur dance company, where everyone is welcome. I reached my goal with this new group. And I am the happiest person. They are dedicated and first of all they love to dance.

What’s your life philosophy? And your daily routine?

My life philosophy is: love yourself and the rest will be how it is. Never follow the crowd.
I try to enjoy every moment and do the things I love. Not the way everyone does, but what I want.

Satishkoemar Myre-Makhan at Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal, photo:desenze

Do you have other passions?

Yes, I like baking cakes, making all the costumes for the dance company, watching scary movies (weird passion, but this is the only way I can stop my head of thinking about dance). Listening to music, having coffee and cake with friends. Cosy moments with my loved ones. More and more, I just love life. At the end, everything that gives me happiness is becoming my passion.

How do you choose the music and the choreography for your pieces?

Just by listening to Indian or fusion music.

How can you describe yourself as a person?

I’m a very open- hearted / minded person. I try to do my best to create love in everything. Take care and treat people the way I want to be taken care of and treated. I reflect as a mirror to others. And I don’t mind to be like a chameleon, blend in without losing myself.

What are you dreaming about?

That my dancers dance better than me and invite me to their own performance they created.

Please, let us know about your future plans.

I update all my events on my website feel welcome to see;-).

Satish, thank you very much for the interesting interview and good luck for the premiere in Germany!

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