Godess of knowledge and arts
The name Shaktala is formed by two words: ‘Shakti’, which means female energy, and ‘Talam’, which refers to rhythm.
Geo founded the Shaktala group in Bristol, England, in 1990, with the idea of disseminating this form of Southern Indian dance –which was little known outside of India. She called her project “Dances of Southern India”, and in it she explores and performs dances in their various manifestations: traditional, folk and creative repertoires, based on Mohiniyattam.
Ixcatepec Cultural Center
During the last 2 years, various students in Tepoztlan have developed their Mohiniyattam dance. They have had opportunities to present their work in public in Cuernavaca, Tepoztlan and Toluca.
Shaktala, initially formed by Anglo-Indian and British students, promoted these dances for several years in England through performances at temples, festivals and theaters
In both England and Mexico, Geo has succeeded in transmitting the passion she has received, with much gratitude, from her dance gurus or teachers. Upon her arrival in Mexico, she initiated students in the technical foundations of the dance style, exploring fusion with more modern elements, such as Western music. She gradually introduced to her students the more complex and demanding traditional Mohiniyattam repertoire. Shaktala has been a dynamic project ––as expressed in its name, “The rhythms of female energy”: through the years, the make-up of its members and its repertoire has changed. The group in Mexico has had basically 3 periods: it began and continued with dancers of Mexico City from 2000 to 2007
at the same time, a new generation of students has joined in from 2007 to the present time.
During this period, the students of the Diploma Course on Southern Indian Dances participated in the India-Mexico Festival in Cuernavaca for the opening at the Auditorium of IMTA in 2007.
In the fall of the same year, dancers and actors of Morelos and of Veracruz living in Cuernavaca joined Shaktala.
In the course of its career, Shaktala Cuernavaca has performed on several occasions at Teatro Ocampo in Cuernavaca and in other municipalities of the state of Morelos.
Cholkettu at Ocampo theater, Cuernavaca july 2014
Shaktala, dances from south India 2014
Some important proyects and forums
Auditorium of the Embassy of India, Mexico City (2003)
“Lotus Feet: The deities through dance” (“Pies de Loto: “Las deidades a través de la danza”). Arts Everywhere (Artes por Todas Partes) / Government of Mexico City (2006)
“ Akasha” (October 2004 ) and “Bhakti” (November 2008) at Centro Cultural Talleres de Coyoacán.
Ethnics: “La Danza Sagrada de la Ruta de la Seda” (“The Sacred Dance of the Silk Route”) (January 2014) and Foro Cultural Coyoacanense.
“Bhasmasura Mohini” (December 2015) at Dragón de Jade, Cuernavaca.
“Nrtha/Nritya” (2016) F4 Cuernavaca, CCPLE Tepoztlán and other municipalities of Morelos.
The group has also offered its dances at celebrations of the International Dance Day for several consecutive years at different venues, including Foro del Lago at Jardín Borda and Teatro Ocampo, in Cuernavaca, as well as Instituto Politécnico Nacional and Ollin Yolitzin, in Mexico City.
“Orion, the Great Man of the Sky” (“Orion el Gran Hombre del Cielo”). A Surrealistic Performing Collage written by Alice Rahon, directed by Alicia Martínez, with a choreography and rhythmic script by Geo Legorreta (2008 ) at the Modern Art Museum (MAM, Mexico City) and LACMA (L.A.), on occasion of Women Surrealists’ exhibitions.
“Funky Talam” in collaboration Marcos Ariel Rossi, (Abril 2016) Ocampo theater, Cuernavaca.
By 2005, three of her students (Mariana Flores, Verónica Macias and Emmanuel Ramos) manifested great interest in traveling to India in order to deepen their studies of dance and visit Kerala, the birthplace of Mohiniyattam, and they made trips to study under Guru Nirmala Paniker. Eventually, Mariana and Verónica obtained grants from the Indian government in order to continue their studies at the Kerala Kalamandalam school for a period of two years.
Several members of Shaktala have developed as independent dancers and/or teachers: Emmanuel Ramos, Edith Martínez, Sandra Rodríguez, Mónica Atilano, Ana Luisa Salas and Omar Martínez
The Shaktala adventure has been for me a great joyful effort in the course of which I have been able not only to transmit this style of Indian dance to many interested students but also to carry out beautiful exchanges of choreographic and performance ideas.
I hope to have sown seeds that will germinate and flourish for many years to come!
“March 2010 marked the tenth anniversary of my first Mohiniyattam class. I remember the first class perfectly well… I fell in love with the songs, the mudras and the gentleness with which Geo moved her hands, and I wanted to have that femininity myself.
“Through the path of dance… to allow emotions to flow so that the body too may flow in the dance. In order to dance, you need to let go of the fear of experiencing your emotions. Sometimes, in order to dance with gentle movements, you need to go through hard trials; sometimes, in order to have a strong base, you need to let yourself flow gently.
“The dance brought me a new family, a place to grow, and unexpected trips to the other side of the world.
“What matters is to keep dancing; the dance is one, and it belongs to the dancer; it is my language, my nourishment, my strength. It is the mind that sets the limit….”
–Mariana Flores Lot, Mexico City (student for 10 years)
“ When Mohiniyattam entered my life, I was coming from the experience of the “professionalism of dance”: rigor, criticism, absurd diets, competition, etc.
“When I first met Geo, and through the way in which she taught us the movements of Mohiniyattam, I experienced the sweetness I needed, and I began to heal in many senses. Geo, Shaktala and Mohiniyattam were my home and my medicine, my place of magic and growth for many years; Mohiniyattam gave me many beautiful experiences filled with learnings and revealing trips to India that were not always easy; dear friendships, unforgettable students and fellow dancers; now, as an independent teacher and dancer, I will always be very grateful to all this rich, healing, deep, enriching past. Thank you Geo. Thank you, Shaktala.”
–Verónica Macías, Mexico City (student for 9 years)
“My teacher Geo Legorreta, with whom I was able to engage in something more than a physical, rhythmic practice, invited me to embark on a path of challenges where spirituality and perseverance go together. This has made me feel honored and privileged. Dance has taught me to be grateful for my bodily health; it has awakened in me love for others as I dance, and has given me courage by teaching me to exhibit my strength and beauty.”
–Ana Luisa Salas Carrillo, Mexico City (student for 15 years)
“It has been a most interesting and beautiful experience to get to know and practice this classical Indian dance. As a Tai Chi practitioner, I find similarities between this martial art and Mohiniyattam, as certain postures seem to stem directly from the martial arts, and many of its movements are continual, long and circular, which enhances the awareness of the in-breath and out-breath process and induces a meditative state; this is one of the aspects that I have enjoyed the most.
“Personally it has allowed me to gain more awareness of the body and feel more harmony. I couldn’t summarize all the pleasant, beautiful moments that I have experienced in the classes and workshops or the excitement of group performances onstage in a theater or outdoors.”
–Adolfo Vázquez Contreras, Mexico City (student for 10 years)
“The dance and its training have put me in relationship with people so kindred, that it would seem I had met them in previous lives. Learning to move organically with my fellow dancers as one body and to the same beat has led me to become part of a small community and to grow along with itJ
I am enormously grateful for having teachers who have blessed me with their teachings, who make me have my feet on the ground and who share their experiences of a holistic, integral dance like Mohiniyattam, preaching with the example of discipline.”J
–Mónica Atilano Ponce, Mexico City (student for 12 years)
“I dance Mohiniyattam because I was called to it. Because it gave me the discipline and the center that I so badly needed, because in it I feel my womanness –soft and strong–, as I embody that mythological being who is capable of enchanting whoever sees her, using her dance as a weapon, as a spell…
I am and shall always be dance.
Thank you, Geo, for transmitting to me the beauty of Mohiniyattam, for being my unconditional teacher and guide, my mother in this beautiful art.
–Edith “Koyis” Martínez, Cuernavaca (student for 10 years)
“Discipline and Devotion. The two words with which I can define my path in the dance. The teaching of Geo is ongoing and shows her passion for bringing the tradition to this part of the world. An unlimited knowledge and a deep teaching that will last my entire life. Thank you, Geo.”
–Sandra Rodríguez, Cuernavaca (student for 9 years)
"For me, dance is a prayer:
To dance is to be able to communicate with the deity to whom you are offering your dance, while putting your heart in your whole body. Expressing each word, sentence and feeling of your prayer in each foot, each hand, in every movement of your torso, in every part of your face… Dancing provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with your own being.
I can no longer conceive my life without praying in this sublime, transcendent way….”
–Aída Ortiz Jiménez, Mexico City (student for 7 ½ years)
“I learnt and reinforced PATIENCE, PERSEVERANCE, DISCIPLINE, SERENITY, TOLERANCE, a RELAXATION born from practicing, practicing until the movement becomes clearer to me… Skin-deep emotions, going through sadness, anger ha haha, but, for sure, lots of love. RESPECTING the knowledge of a culture that is far from our own reality, that has different beliefs.”
–Nancy Edith Justiniani, Mexico City, (student for 6 ½ years)
“Thanks to Geo’s teachings, the demanding nature of this dance flows in a very natural, harmonious way, for at all times she makes us seek the sweetness, strength and power within ourselves in order to flow with our body and our heart, discovering at every moment the therapeutic wonders of communicating our emotions and feelings through this beautiful dance.”
–Karla Ramírez, Mexico City (student for 5 years)
“My experience with Indian dance has been absolutely beautiful, loving, sensitive, intense and, above all, spiritual. It is the only dance that makes me forget everything, all the emotional or social problems around me.
It is incredible to see how much peace it can provide; and not only peace but also a huge inner and outer strength – feminine strength. Besides, as a dancer you also gain a great stage bearing; this has helped me enormously in other dances.”
–Alejandra Puentes, Mexico City (student for 4 ½ years)
“My experience in Mohiniyattam through Geo Legorreta
The first time I saw Indian dance I was enthralled. I recall it as something quite memorable: it was an evening on a flight of stairs with a domed ceiling that made all the movements and song resound as if we were inside a cave. That experience moved me and touched something deep within me. I decided that I could not remain a mere spectator: I had to get to know those movements, those expressions; I wanted to learn and converge with Geo Legorreta in order to learn from her, little by little, a completely different way of dancing and telling a story.
For me, dance has been one more way to get to know myself, to recognize and reconcile myself with my own body and its possibilities: to continue to learn and be moved. Art is a never ending path.”
–Aldo Hinojosa, Mexico City (student for 3 years)
“Honoring an Indian dance that brings age-old teachings that are transmitted to me along with a tradition, respect and love, to feel every single music note with the movements of my body.”
–Kalo Lopez, Cuernavaca (student for the last 2 ½ years)