I was conceived, born and raised in Post-Colonial Sri Lanka [Previously known as Ceylon], a country deeply rooted in over two thousand year's of traditions of the Dravidian's, Aryan's, Wanniya-Laeto, Moors and five hundred years of European colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. My Tamil Dravidian ancestors arrived in Sri Lanka in 300 BC from Southern India and settled in the northern province, now known as Jaffna. After spending their formative years there, my Parents moved to the south where I was born in the city of Kandy in 1962. My mother Rubawathy, a Musician, Painter and Poet and my father Kirubasingam, who possessed one of the most analytical and curious minds that I have ever known, provided the building blocks which serve me in my art to this day, artistic thought and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I began my formal education in music at the age of nine in Piano, Royal College of Music, followed by Acoustic Guitar, and, during my secondary schooling, at Trinity College, Kandy, the Percussion tradition of the area. With these syncretic influences, I arrived in New York in 1983 as a University student.
I had my first exposure to Modern Dance in 1984 when I went to a performance given by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Besides my introduction to Modern Dance on that day I was also exposed to the realm and philosophies of New Music and specifically its avant-garde thinkings associated with Modern & Post Modern Dance. I received my first commission to compose for Dance in 1984, which led to my extensive immersion into the world of Modern/Post Modern Dance as an Interdisciplinary Artist, Composer, Technologist, Theorist and Scholar.
"Music" as I have come to know it, is a series of acoustic events, quantified by time, from our past to the present, and is a sonic representation of the human condition which continues to be in a state of flux. With voice and simple idiophones to complex music programming languages, human evolution continues to mold this realm of sound. For me, the root sound of all sounds, documented in the philosophies and paradigms of my culture is "Om", and throughout all my experiences, I remain true to my heritage in understanding that one rudimentary sound, to accept it, to deny it or to mold it and build upon it within the capabilities of my mind.
In regards to "Modern/Post Modern Dance", simply, as a musician, I am only inspired by the human form and its capabilities of complex movement structures. Modern/Post Modern Dance [Western Movement Vocabulary] and its multi dimensional complexities, Kinesthetic ideologies, collaborative processes/dialogs and an environment of continued avant guarde thinkings, allows for a platform incomparable to anything else, where my creativity and imagination can exist freely.
Hence, over the years I have had inner dialog's on the following topics/subjects/events/entities, specifically in respect to my life in Music. Why Music? Why Dance? Analog or Digital? Graham, Cunningham, Hawkins & Taylor? Nine Evenings? Ligeti? Faust, Throbbing Gristle, Zoviet France & Einsturzunde Neubauten? Black Mountain, Grand Union, Judson? Max/MSP or Pure Data? Paul Reed Smith, Gibson or Fender? Shadow, Krush & Dilla? Antheil, Berrio, Xenakis & Stockhausen! Russes & Trockadero? Extra Light, Light or Medium? Modern, Post Modern & Contemporary? Cajon & Matka? Satie? Bill T? Walter or Wendy? 6 or 12? Serialism or Post Serialism? Port de Bras and Pointe? Waldorf or Oxford? Wigman, Holm & Bausch? Microtones? Atonality? Rond de Jambe? Czukay, Jarre, Eno, Froese & Fripp! ELO, KMFDM, LP, VCO, LFO & BT? Rainer, Paxton, Brown & Banes! Bars & Barres? Webern? Arpeggios? Oliveros, Young, Riley & Reich! Vanderbeek, Stelarc, Byzantine Generals Problem? First, Second, Third and Forty fifth Position? Unix! Limon? Adagio or Alegro? Release? Diminished Seventh? Horst, Reigger, Cowell, Cage & Dunn! MIDI or OSC? Trance, Dronology & Electro Clash? Releve? Boards of Canada, Mission of Burma and Swell Maps? Kluver? Denishawn? Budd? New Media, Body Lang? Isadora; both the organic and electronic varities! Gesture? Forsyth? Transhumanism? And so on and so forth.....
Finally, I have come to accept that uncontrived creativity can only exist independent of a demanding audience, free of the whims and trends of society and populer culture. Modern/Post Modern Dance and its environment of avant garde thinkings offers me that identity where the partnerships, explorations, discoveries and processes remain the challenge while the end result is merely just that, the end result. The audience, for me, is optional. In that context, my creativity will continue to exist, until, it is time for it to pass.......and it will......
______________________________ Manjunan Gnanaratnam- © 2004 __________________________