Shabari Rao


January 13th 2019.

In a world exceedingly molded by popular media, glorifying and preaching a single standard of beauty, Shabari Rao, contemporary dancer and educator brought to the Koota community a performance challenging the notions of what the body can and can not do. The performance questions how we look at arts such as dance and urges one to instead explore dance through ones own body.

Here is a reposted article called Dance that is Mindful, sourced from the Hindu

“Shabari, a disciple of Maya Rao, has a Professional Diploma in Dance Studies from Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance (UK) and holds an MA in Dance and Education from the Royal Academy of Dance (UK).

She says she didn’t perform for several years because she wasn’t comfortable with the way the body was supposed to behave as a dancer, in terms of what it needs to be ‘able to’ look like and dance.

“The work that I made last year was a solo dance performance and it looked at the body, the experience of the body as a liability and as an asset. We often experience bodies as liabilities, something that needs to be fixed. It is not good enough in the eyes of the media, the beauty industry, the entertainment industry, even medicine . They say it needs constant maintenance,” she explains.

“I was looking at the body as a source of abundance, learning and knowledge and as the way that we actually engage in the world. This is closely aligned with the philosophy of somatic practices, which is about paying attention to the body and looking at the wealth the body holds.”

What she means by abundance, is that the body is the fundamental asset that we born with. “Instead of experiencing it as a liability in terms of size, my work proposed that we experience it as a source of joy and of holding knowledge and experiences.”

“We are always in our heads, paying attention to the things we need to do, to conversations with people. With the chatter that goes on in our heads, we slowly begin to ignore the body and only pay attention once something is breaking down, like a chronic pain somewhere.”

Through dance, one starts looking at how the body is feeling, what’s happening to the body. “When you engage in dance, you attune your mind to observing the body, even breathing is an important part of connecting with the body. You then begin to understand simple things: what you choose to eat can be formed by not what is in your head but what is in your stomach, for instance. How you take care of yourself becomes informed by the fact that the body is your friend, not your enemy.”

Somatic practice, she says, also helped her as a performer, especially in the way she looks at dance”