UMEED -A dance initiative dedicated to all artist in this challenging times Dance and Choreography by Odissi Danseuse Jyoti Shrivastava and Poetry by Dr.Arshiya Sethi


During the period of Corona restrictions, Kri Foundation, found a new and unexpected way to promote the arts and creativity. Lock down ensured that we were restricted to our homes. Social distancing ensured that we could not gather together, even for artistic purposes. It had a shocking impact on the artists. Most people felt shaken, unable to comprehend what was happening and fearful of the unknown powerful, pandemic. Then commenced, challenges to livelihoods and the onset of anxieties that accompany the loss of a familiar way of life. It was amplified by the uncertainties of the future. But what was also palpable is that the artistes were missing the stage. Was it only about the limelight or the thrilling sound of an applause, I wondered?

The structure, with the repeating lines, the rhyming words of the poem and the metaphors of the world of the arts, music, painting, and sculpture, all pointed to dance. I believe that these are poems that work with double authorship, that of the poet being the primary authorship but they undoubtedly by get competed through dance, hence, I refer to them as ‘Danced poems”, and the dancer or choreographer is its secondary author.

These poems all had an organic genesis Having recently joined social media, as recently as the pandemic itself, I heard what was trending, I heard what were the issues, thousands of people were picking up on, were concerned about and suddenly I felt the urge to write, almost in response to these exchanges. I first wrote some verses on the prevailing situation and the perplexities of the lockdown. It is true that never before had so many people had been constrained to their homes, with virtually no warning. But I hastened to remind them in this poem that this was a “lock down” and not a “lockup” and pointed to the fact that a lockdown reflected responsibility, while a lockup, a crime.

Impulsively,They shared this poem with Pune based Senior Kathak Guru, Shama Bhate. She represents what I call the Pune bani of Kathak. Its matriarch was Guru Rohini Bhate, now deceased. Rohini ji was well known for her exacting attention to serious poetry, strong music and a very elegant choreography. Shama ji had always impressed me as a worthy student whose work carried forward the signature left by her Guru. She picked up the idea enthusiastically, and within a few days shared the video of “Shubham Bhavatu”. You can find it here. It was completed a day before World Dance Day, which falls on 29th April, and I used  this danced poem, to wish all friends, members of the dance community and lovers of art.

As Kri Foundation’s Founder Trustees, Rama Vaidyanathan and I were horrified to see what the frontline health workers in the battle against Covid 19 had to endure. I am the daughter of a police officer and have been the wife of a doctor. I couldn’t bear this disrespect. I wrote a piece as a tribute- “A Shradhanjali”  to COVID frontline workers, as a humble tribute to them, during a trying time, in which they did more than their duty, despite tribulations and impediments. They did this despite appallingly low access to facilities and resources. It also appeals to fellow Indians to truly value their efforts at restricting the spread of the virus, driven by the goal of keeping us safe, with scant care to their own well being. With Rama I have worked  several times in the past, to push boundaries without access to the regular musical ensemble that accompanies a Bharatanatyam performance. This was during early stages of the restrictions and many options had not been thought of, considered or explored. Rama used the presence of her daughter and a student, who was stuck with the Guru during the pandemic. She made the camera a visible and determining piece of the dance, a possibility her mind had been attuned to, because of the fact that one of the areas that Kri Foundation has been pushing the boundaries on has been the relationship between dance and the camera