Attakalari Centre for Movements Arts, Bangalore, is on a mission to mentor and encourage emerging contemporary dance choreography through the Sanchaari Mobile Theatre Initiative. They provide performance opportunities and audience development for the works in different parts of the country. Six young Indian artists were featured in the ‘Young Choreographers’ Platform’ in Chennai recently.
It opened with Denny Paul’s stunning setting in ‘Uyire’ (life force). A lighted square on stage, achieved with white tube lights placed on the floor, served as his arena. To cross over from the present to the past, he used the square as a timeline. Living through the crisis of the past in a moving display, he walked confidently into the future down into the audience. Absolutely Attakalari-like, in the stark white lighting, costume and indistinct electronic music.
Another stunning piece was ‘Padheyam’ by Santhosh V.S. in which three sinewy, supple young men became four-legged beasts, alligators and other real and imagined monsters during an adventure. Kalari, gymnastics, dance movements and contact improvisation techniques were used to electrifying effect.
Arresting, disturbing as the movements moved from raw and raunchy to aggressive and agonising, there was no respite in Hemabharathy Palani’s ‘Uruvam.’ Should some of the suggestive parts be labelled ‘For adults only’ is a moot point. It dealt with a disturbing scenario, of people suffering from a gender disorder, and Hemabharathy captured it beautifully with an orange scarf that draped on the head for a manly look, as a plait, as a pregnant stomach, for a womanly look, and so on. The dancer was definitely pushing the envelope.
Using her Bharatanatyam base in a contemporary piece, Chitra Arvind captured the journey, ‘Yatra- River of Life’ using the journey across the river as a metaphor for life. Two friends get onto a boat and midway they encounter troubles. One drowns after a prolonged struggle under water while the other tries to help, the whole graphic journey accentuated by agitated movements and sounds as part of the soundtrack.
Akila’s ‘Unstill Images’ captured different dances in different frames in an out-of-the-box way. Black tracks, black tees, no make-up were the dancers’ (Akila and Palani) get up. Add to this dramatic white spotlights trained on different parts of the dancers in different sequences, to get a singularly intellectual ‘frame’. The mechanical movements performed in repetition along an invisible square had the upper torso lighted up, in the folk section, it was only the ‘belled’ feet that got attention. The larger than life shadows on the stage wall, added further depth to this unique take.
One can understand a young man’s angst when rebuffed by his lady-love; but one cannot understand how the man’s many guises (headgears) and prolonged looks of exasperation at a helpless audience can help him. There is always an artistic license and perhaps a yearning inside us to see if people will respond differently when seen in different garbs, but what can a captive audience do? ‘LVOE’ (love misspelt) by talented dancer Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy was exasperating for one and all.