RAJ LAXMI SINGH
// Raj Laxmi is a photographer from India based in Delhi who greatly loves immersing herself emotionally and visually in the performing arts of her country. She has shared a set of magical captures from Indian classical dance performances.
Raj Laxmi Singh a former journalist and now a full-time photographer. Initially a hobby, photography soon tempted her to learn and master the craft. She has covered major art, cultural and heritage events across India, exhibiting a knack for capturing portraits and live performances.
“I don’t just point my camera and click photographs. I click according the way the subject makes me feel or I click based on the connection of the emotion between me and the subjects,” says Raj Laxmi. “Admittedly, it’s a bit of a strange concept. My main goal as a photographer is to create the kinds of images that combine a strong sense of story and human expression. Photography offers bountiful opportunities which we attempt to use as a tool for documentation.”
Through her photography Raj Laxmi would like to serve her country by promoting the rich history and beauty of Indian culture and art. Her work has been published in a number of magazines, won some awards, and she has participated in an exhibition with the Ministry of Culture.
“a nation´s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.”
What draws you to the arts?
“Art for me is the backbone of society. Art and culture is what has kept society going throughout the years, whether it’s dance, poetry, theatre, music, pottery etc. Art is used a tool of education to tell tales of yesteryear, but also used to educate on current situations. Art is also a medium of self expression and allows an individual to share his/her thoughts, emotions to whichever medium of art he/she chooses.”
What impresses you most about the classical Indian dances?
“What I like about Indian classical dance is its beauty and majesty that comes forth when the dancers use their eyes, hands, limbs and expressions to relate stories to the audience without words. The classical dancer takes the audience on a journey as if they are actually witnessing what is being told on stage. I decided that I would try to capture the dancers in their glory and share this so that the viewers can get the feeling of what I witnessed on stage.”
अभिनय (Hindi for dramatic performance) is a key element of classical Indian cultural heritage. Classical dances are an integral part of Indian culture. Indian Classical Dance is full of expressions of feeling and emotions. “I am a photographer, no one sees me, but I see the dancers in front of my camera and I try to truly capture her/his expressions and feelings in my camera. I think all photographs become a universal language that everyone can easily understand. Since each picture has its own narrative and story.”
In these pictures Raj Laxmi has captured four classical dance forms: Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak and Chhau mask. The Bharatanatyam Dance presents the artist Padma Shri Guru Geeta Chandran and her team. She narrates a story, evoking images through her eyes, body and gestures, and creating entire dramatic episodes out of these actions. Some pictures also showcase Kathak dance by Padma Shri Guru Shovana Narayan & Group. Kathak, one of the most elegant dance forms of Indian classical dance, revolves around the concept of storytelling.
Some photos feature Odissi by Guru Meera Das and Chhau Mask by Padma Shri Guru Shashadhar Acharya and his team. They are presenting ‘Raatri”, with stage light design by Sandeep Dutta. The Chhau mask is a traditional cultural heritage of Purulia in the Indian state of West Bengal. The main difference between the Purulia Chhau dance and the Odisha Chhau dance is in the use of the mask, which is used in Purulia. If you would like to see some of these dances, follow the links to some videos.
Raj Laxmi has also created stunning black and white photographs of Indian classical dance, and these are being featured in an interview on the Pictorial-List today – please head over to check it out!
Thank you for sharing these extraordinary Indian dance images with us, Raj Laxmi!
Some images may be cropped for layout. Click on the photos to see the full image. The image title also identifies the dance form.
All photos © RAJ LAXMI SINGH
To see more of her photography visit Raj Laxmi´s Instagram page.