The dance form of Bharatanatyam is as deeply engrained in Indian culture as most of the mythology is, bringing me to this interesting mix of both, where I try to combine Indian mythological characters performing Bharatanatyam steps that are in some way connected with the character’s personality or story.
The story of the Vamana is about a dwarf with an umbrella that approaches a powerful demon king and asks for 3 paces of land. The king laughs it off as a trivial request and grants this wish. Unexpectedly, the dwarf grows to a gigantic size and begins his measurement. He raises his foot impossibly high and with the first step, he covers the distance between the Earth and the Heavens. With the second step, he covers the distance between the Heavens and the Netherworld. He then raises his foot one more time, asking the king where he can measure his third pace of land. The king realizes that this is no ordinary dwarf and understands that this is an avatar of Vishnu, come to test him. Humbled and rid of his former pride and arrogance, he submits entirely and offers his own head in exchange for the promised third pace of land.
The Indian festival of Onam, celebrated in the state of Kerala, marks the commemoration of the Vamana Avatar of Vishnu and the subsequent homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali.
When looking for reference, I found this spectacular image of a Bharatanatyam dancer raising one foot to the heavens, instantly making me think of this story. An addition I made was to place an umbrella in his right hand, which is often symbolically connected with this character.
So, what do you think? Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Give them an inch and they take a mile,” doesn’t it?