Paris Laxmi: Erasing Boundaries with Art

Text: Paul Nicodemus

Erasing boundaries, she has proved that art has no barriers. Despite being born in a Western country, she not only embraced Indian classical dance and culture but also got married to an Indian artiste. Her artistic pedigree coupled with her passion towards performing arts made her a brilliant dancer. Her Bharatanatyam solos and innovative duet ‘Sangamam’ with her husband, a Kathakali dancer, brought her critical acclaim and appreciation from various quarters. Paris Laxmi is a professional artiste who has taken up performing arts as her career.Myriam Sophia Lakshmi Quinio aka Paris Laxmi was born on 16 July 1991 at Aix-en-Provence in France. She was brought up in France by her father Yves, a poet and drama artist and her mother Patricia, a sculptor. Her parents travelled every year to India with brother Theo Narayan and her. She studied in France and completed her Baccalaureate in French literature and arts. Being born into a family of artists, art was part of her everyday life. Though her parents never pushed her brother and her to take up artistic endeavours, both of them, naturally developed an attraction for dance and music. Her brother became a musician and plays the drums and she became a dancer and an actress. “As far as I remember, I loved to dance. It just came from within,” she says.

Though her teachers made her the dancer that she is today, it would not have been possible without the support of her parents. For the love of art and their children, they sacrificed a lot. “My parents are definitely the ones who supported me to become an artiste. They gave up everything for us to accomplish ourselves in the path we had chosen. I owe them everything,” she says.She had many teachers of different dance styles and each one of them gave her a different vision of dance. It was because of what she learnt in Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz, Bharatanatyam, Flamenco, Hip-Hop and other art forms that she became the artist that she is today. 

Bharatanatyam is the dance style that she performs actively. Along with her husband Pallippuram Sunil, a Kathakali dancer, she has established Kalashakti School of Arts in Vaikom, an institute where she has been conducting classes since 2012. Together with her husband she has created the duet ‘Sangamam’ and its first production called ‘Krishna Mayam’, with which they toured more than 50 times so far. Currently, the couple has been working on a new production with Odissi dancer Abhaya Lakshmi. “I would like to collaborate with other artists more in the years to come,” she reveals. She desires to create more content by meeting and collaborating with interesting artistes, taking up new challenges to maintain her artistic level and improving on it. India is known for its arts and cultural heritage. According to Laxmi, classical art forms are intertwined with the lives of Indians and these art forms should be preserved in their purity while being open to innovation. Laxmi gets her inspiration from the diversity around her. “I enjoy watching performances by different artistes, observe animals and nature, read, watch movies, listen to music and dream,” she lists. These activities inspire and help her in nourishing her creativity. 

Apart from dancing, she also proved herself as an actress. “I love acting and am looking forward to exploring more facets of this art,” she says. Acting has always been a part of her, even as a child. She started working in the Malayalam Film Industry and hopes to work on new projects in the days to come.

Nourishing the body is equally important for nourishing the soul. Laxmi mostly eats vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs and fish. She sometimes eats chicken in small quantities but stays away from red meat. Her day begins with exercising – stretching, cardio and fitness training has been a part of the routine. She then moves on to practising her dance pieces and technique. “I usually practice in the morning and keep the evening for choreography and new projects,” she reveals. In her free time, she likes spending time with pets, reading books and arranging home while listening to music. Going out with friends and being out in a peaceful natural environment is what she enjoys when she has some free time at her disposal.She finds it hard to select the best moment of her career as there were many. Performing at the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple on Ashtami for the first time and to see Vaikkathappan coming out of the sanctuary with the elephants during her performance, performing at Kerala Kalamandalam in front of Kalamandalam Gopi Assan and other great artistes, performing the 50th stage of ‘Krishna Mayam’ with her husband at Guruvayoor Temple and performing in a duet with her soul sister Abhaya Lakshmi were memorable moments out of plenty.

Talking about fusion, she says that meeting other dance forms than yours, for a jugalbandi or classical dance fusion would be interesting. But she is particular about keeping the purity of the art forms intact. Staying in a classical pattern and using traditional music would assist innovation in tradition. 

She has choreographed and performed a contemporary solo called ‘Seasons on Earth’, about environment and preservation of our planet. “I would love to create more opportunities to connect my art to serve the society and environment,” she explains.She has received awards from different clubs and associations for her efforts in arts and its promotion. She garnered accolades from senior artists,  dance critics and art connoisseurs in India and abroad. Though she was happy to receive awards, she does not want to run after them. “I think that at the end of the day, the best award, an artist should look for is the self-happiness and enjoyment to perform. The satisfaction after a well-received performance, the smiles on the faces of the audience, the sound of their hands clapping, people coming after the show to convey their love and appreciation and the respect you see in their eyes are wonderful feelings,” she concludes.