I got my first lesson in team work at age 10 when, after an introductory dance class, my Guru acquainted me with the synergistic nature of the Arts. Under a moonlit sky, resting our feet on marble steps leading up to a dainty, little temple, she narrated a dialogue between King Vajra and Sage Markandeya from the Vishnudharmottara Purana.
King Vajra: Sir, I wish to learn the art of sculpture. Could you teach me how to carve?
Sage Markandeya: He who does not know the art of painting could never know the art of sculpture.
King Vajra: Explain to me the art of painting then.
Sage Markandeya: It’s rather difficult to learn the art of painting without the knowledge of dance, as both represent the world. One does it through colour and the other does it through movement.
King Vajra: So, train me in dance and perhaps, painting thereafter.
Sage Markandeya: Dance cannot be understood by someone who is not skilled in instrumental music.
King Vajra: Acquaint me with instrumental music before dance then.
Sage Markandeya: Without knowledge of vocal music, though, one cannot know instrumental music.
King Vajra: Well, please tell me what constitutes vocal music.
Sage Markandeya: Vocal music is a recitation of prose and verse; of poetry and lyrics. Hence, you must master literature in order to know it.
Thence, began the King’s first lecture in the artistry of words.
“Kaali, not only is a temple a work of art, so are the sculptures that go into it, the dance and music performed in its hallways and the paintings that hang on its walls. For all you know, dance, painting and sculpture are the visual equivalents for everything that formulates poetry and hence, music – metre, rhyme, rhythm, tune and melody.
The Arts are a team. They work in collaboration with one another, just like human beings should. In fact, they complement one another. To enrich every aesthetic experience.
A sculptress must be able to draw. An artist that sketches must be guided by dance movements in order to bring vitality to the canvas. A dancer must know her music; to sing in order to give her steps and pauses structure. And because words are strung together to give compositions meaning, a performing artiste must grasp the essence of literature.
When you begin to bask in them all, you will discover that together, their power to stir and inspire transcends reality.”
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