the journey

Shastram is an initiative that started as something very personal to me... 

undying knowledge passed on for the love of dance

Ghirija Jayarraj

It's initial beginnings are when I began dancing in Perth Australia as a kid. Here was an art form that was so close to me and made so much sense to me, but when I performed it in a public forum consisting of people from various cultural backgrounds, I couldn't help but feel alienated.  The urge to be able to connect to people from all backgrounds came from those moments. 

Ironically growing up in a Western country with all the various influences also made me see this art form in a new light. I truly believe that the presentation of Indian Classical dance can be enhanced with new innovations. 

I began experimenting with innovative presentations of Indian classical dance from 1998. My first full fledged Theatre Production where I combined the elements of screen and stage named Naatya Vandhanam was in 2005. During the making of this, I  came to realise that even in India the art form struggled to reach to a modernised younger generations or the older "non classical" cinema goers. This actually makes up a lot of the population of India and South Asia. The artists I had interviewed felt that knowledge may be lost at this rate. Additionally, up and coming artists struggled to get opportunities to perform even after years of blood sweat and tears. If there is no market where will artists perform? This definitely concerned me. Indian Classical dance is something that gave me and many others like me stability and understanding of life. These are dance forms that should be preserved as long as possible. Artists who practice this art form are the vessels who carry it forward to future generations. They should be encouraged as much as possible. 

However, right after this realisation my life took many turns and I myself started to move away from performing. But something inside of me didn't want to let it go...  Indian Classical dance was more than just something I practiced.. It was something that was a part of me.. and I knew if I didn't do something I would lose something very precious to me.  So I started to speak to other artists and tried to get inspired by them to get back on track with dance. So many artists provided so much input into not only the art but also life, and of course this is no surprise for both are very intertwined. What they shared with me was so valuable that I had to share it with everyone.  This was the birth of  Shastam TV The name "Shastram" and this initiative officially began after this.

 

I decided to materialise all the thoughts and ideas in my head.. and apply my knowledge as an Indian Classical Dancer, Film Maker and Theatre Producer to create new works of art. The point is to reach to people from all walks of life. Especially the ones who knew nothing or little about Indian Classical dance,

I also wanted to work with artists who were up and coming and needed some exposure in the world space.

Further more, being part of the diaspora I have many questions about my culture  and identity which I hope to answer through this journey.

Since 2011 when the initiative was initially registered,  Shastram has become much more than just a personal journey.  I have shared this journey with many wonderful dancers and enthusiasts and had the opportunity to work with many wonderful artists who have helped  bring Shastram creations to life.

As part of the initiative all Shastram's projects have some pre requisites, these are: 

to be unique,

to be interesting and to engage everyone regardless of their cultural background ,

to explore and understand the truth

and... to share knowledge

These measures I truly believe will contribute to sustaining and spreading the art form.

 

We would love for you to be a part of this as well. If you can contribute to our Blog or any other work we do, please do become a Member and email us.  In our member site you can showcase your work so that we can contact you in case of upcoming projects as well. 

This is an exciting journey to be had! We look forward to having you as a part of it. 

                                                              Ghirija Jayarraj

                                                              Creative Director

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