Innovative ideas and contemporary styles combine to make Sapphire Creations’ INTERFACE an alluring event.

INTERFACE is Eastern India’s first and the only global platform for contemporary expressions in alternative arts that break the stereotypes. The event (International Festival of Alternative and Contemporary Expressions) is organised by Sapphire Creations every two years, under the directorship of dancers Sudarshan Chakravarty and Paramita Saha (co-director).

Since 2002, the festival has featured artists from all over the world, organising workshops and discussions. A seminar and screening of dance films were added this year. INTERFACE travelled to Delhi last year and this year to Bengaluru as well, with Michel Casanovas’ ‘Wind Dance.’ The international presentations in the various cities were the same, excepting ‘Navadarshanam’ by Natyavrikshain that was staged in Delhi and ‘Navarasa’ by Shambhavi in Bengaluru.

The five-day festival opened in Kolkata (Sept 21-25) at the G.D. Birla Sabhagar with The Subhijoya Award Ceremony, installed in the memory of Sudarshan Chakravarty’s parents.

It was followed by ‘My Sweet Little Fur’, a solo presentation by Ran Ben-Dror, choreographed by Idan Cohen, both from Israel. Skilled floor–roll movements dominated the piece that raised questions of personal identities and cultural behaviour as opposed to animalistic ones. These were well depicted by the dancer’s slow, quivering, circular movements, which provoked personal and social images of isolation.

‘Holi,’ the next item, was a Sapphire Creations-Israel co-production. It was the outcome of several weeks effort by Idan Cohen with two dancers each from Israel and Sapphire. Drawing the theme from the jealousy of Krishna for Radha being fair, and Mother Yashoda’s suggestion of sprinkling colour on her to change her complexion, the dance theatre extended its boundaries to sibling jealousy, fancies and ambitions to be filmstars such as Marilyn Monroe or Sharmila Tagore, or a soldier, portrayed individually or together through pop culture images and stories of personal and political territories.

The prolonged provocative performance of Noa Shiloh, her back towards the audience, tapping the floor with hands inside yellow high-heeled shoes was enjoyable.

Ankita showed glimpses of Odissi and some basic Kathak moves. Idan also used Laban’s analysis to help his choice of movement content to depict his intention.

The music by Abhishek Dutta and vocals by Sayantan Bhowmick were a fine support to the dancers. Coloured high heels cluttered the stage, posters of the filmstars as props, and the smearing of cosmetics lying in front, enhanced the novel concept. But the use of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s poster as a prop for a soldier was confusing and threatened the theme and the stage grammar, leaving one to judge the presentation only by its imagery.

Interesting jugalbandi

‘Game On,’ conceived, performed and directed by Annalouise Paul from Theatre and Rhythm company, Australia, on the second evening, was an interesting jugalbandi between Bobby Singh’s tabla and Paul’s movements. From an open sideways extension of the arms, tracing peripheral pathways with hands firm on the ground, flights and spatial form, the dancer identified with the laggis and quaida-relas of Bobby what the concept embraced in terms of movement pattern. She used silence too for this conversation between two fundamentally contrasting art forms, both together and individually.

Upasana Centre of Dance, Kolkata, under the guidance of noted Kathak dancer Ashimbandhu Bhattacharya, presented ‘Colours of Kathak.’ This enthusiastic group offering comprised of taatkars, gatbhav, tarrana, ginti with a striking entry, using colourful dupattas and Ashimbandhu’s spirited chakkars.

The stage looked cluttered with so many dancers who, although trained, lacked teamwork and coordination at times bumping into each other. Gaudy costumes clashed with the stark lights as did the deport of a couple of dancers.

Talented choreographers Madhu Gopinath and Vakkam Sajeev from Thiruvananthapuram have taken their group, Samudra, to great heights with their training, innovation, dedication and confidence. It was a real pleasure to watch them flourish in ‘Jalam’ on the third evening with a spectacular performance that needed the dancers to be physical fit.

Aesthetic and agile

Their skill combined creative and aesthetic aspects with fascinating agility to negotiate the energetic, impactful choreography, seamlessly blending Kathakali , Bharatanatyam, Kalaripayettu and yogic postures with some vigorous footwork.

Weaving the divinity of water, its painless attachment and formlessness through contemporary moves, the choreography, costumes, lights and certain primordial imagery left everyone spellbound. It received a standing ovation from the audience. The music by Ishaan Dev was intriguing but too loud. Also liberal use of the smoke machine hampered the appeal.

Three emerging choreographers, Surjit NK (One Voice), Aparna Chandarana (Life and Me) and Prassana Saikia (Nameless) showed promise while performing at the Harrington Arts Centre.

The final day saw two fine productions. ‘Panchabhuta,’ ‘Barsha Varnali’ depicting the rain cycle embellished with lovely Pallavi, ‘Shristi-o-Proloy’ and ‘Swargadapigariyasi,’ an amalgamation of the cultural diversity of Orissa, by Orissa Dance Academy choreographed by Aruna Mohanty.

The other was ‘Dress Up’ by Modern Arts Dance Theatre, Taiwan, choreographed by Shih Gee-Tze.

Aruna Mohanty’s production showed innovation within the boundary of classical Odissi, with multimedia effects in the last item and sensitive tricolour portrayal of ‘Bande Mataram,’ neat formations, intricate artistic patterns and wonderful teamwork.

‘Dress Up’ was a dramatic innovation in a humorous way of how clothes bring out the inner feelings of people. Beginning with dressing for a social dance occasion and moving on to casuals, the presentation beautifully offered a message through “natural” vocabulary of movement.