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Bio Sri Satishkoemar Myre-Makhan
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.
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 dreamworld! I imagined that I could already dance these 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.
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.
I understand through my years of experience why Bharatanatyam is elevated to art. The more knowledge you accumulate while learning the meaning of the stories in the dances, turns the dance into art. Making a successful performance is like finding a treasure chest. Not in the material sense, but you are still laden with riches 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. Which 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? In this way you build layer by layer until you have a complete picture. You create a piece in which you literally take the public with you to your creation. That for me 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 would not have 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 shall carry on this way.