Wednesday, September 19
Art

Dancer SNJV Is Challenging Classic Gender Norms In the Gorgeous “Phool”

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“Sanson ki mala pe simruun main pi ka naam…” she sings, “I bead my beloved’s name on the garland of my breaths…”

The way a song comes back to us, how music filters in and out of our lives revisiting us when an event turns or emotions well up, is magic. When dancer and educator Sanjeev, who uses the signature SNJV on his work, was playing in his dance studio, a song from his childhood shuffled its way to the top of his playlist. “Sanson ki mala pe,” she moaned, “simruun main pi ka naam.” And the beginnings of his short video project, which would one day be titled “Phool,” playing off the song’s themes and his own sense of blossoming, began to play in his mind.

“I heard the song ‘Sanson Ki Mala’ when it came out…it was so powerful to me I locked it away in my heart when I was a kid, thinking ‘I’m gonna play with this song one day, I just don’t know when.’ I trusted life to bring me to it,” Sanjeev told Kajal over the phone. “It happened that one day I heard it while dancing in the studio, and this really dramatic theme of running in nature came to me.”

With the help of friends, including a floral artist, Sanjeev arrived on a beach in California and began filming his own body uncurling and opening up, with “Sanson Ki Mala” as the soundtrack. What resulted is a beautiful video, fashion editorial meets visual poetry. In it, Sanjeev layers in gender play, slow-breathing shots, and breath-catching landscapes.

It’s a meditation on the power of stillness, he says.

“My body is still telling you a story if I’m absolutely still. Even if my body is still, my mind and my soul and the light within me is always dancing,” Sanjeev said.

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