Dance performance and photo exhibition to mark the anniversary of the founding members of SPACES — Chandralekha and Dashrath Patel

The imperilled dance form from Odisha, Gotipua, is being presented on December 29 and 30 at SPACES, Besant Nagar, to mark the anniversary of its founding members Chandralekha and Dashrath Patel.

An additional feature will be a rare exhibition of the photographic works of Dashrath Patel, curated by Sadanand Menon from a vast archive. The exhibition will be inaugurated by senior Cholamandal artist V. Vishwanadhan.

One of the primary initiators of contemporising Bharatanatyam and posing it fresh challenges, Chandralekha (1928-2006) was instrumental in putting contemporary Indian dance on the world map with her ten landmark productions in 20 years. Her productions integrated elements from diverse Indian physical traditions including kalrippayattu and yoga and explored a provocatively abstract content. Her work remains the yardstick by which Indian contemporary dance is evaluated. A versatile artist, Dashrath Patel (1927-2010) graduated from the College of Art, Chennai, where he was a student of Devi Prasad Roy-Choudhury and later went abroad to specialise in ceramics, photography and engraving. He was drafted as the founder-director of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, in 1961. After 20 prolific years at the NID, where he was at the helm of every major national design initiative, he re-settled in Chennai and went on to set up a Rural Design School in Sewapuri, near Varanasi. The performance spaces they jointly created at the Elliot’s Beach in Besant Nagar has today become a venue for experimental work in theatre and dance in Chennai and is used by a wide variety of artists. It also houses a popular kalarippayattu class.

This year’s event showcases Gotipua, a fast vanishing form of ritual performance. It’s pure nritta, combined with vigorous athletic elements, makes it a lively spectacle. It is considered to be the foundation on which Odissi dance was constructed.

The events are open to all.