Two young dancers use Kathak and Contemporary Dance to express concern for issues affecting everyday life.

Shubhro Ghosh and Sadanand Biswas came together for an unusual dance presentation, “Spirit”, the other day at New Delhi’s India Habitat Centre. The thought behind the name was that all dance forms are one in spirit. Therefore, Shubhro being a Contemporary dancer and Sadanand specialising in Kathak, their aim was to find a way to reach the audience so that the message overrode the differences in style.

While the programme contained solos too, the two innovative pieces were a combination of the duo’s dance styles. These were Suryashtakam, the invocatory composition, and “Shikhadhar Tandav” with which the show came to an end.

“We did not want it to look like he is doing Contemporary and I am doing Kathak,” says Sadanand on the choreographic approach. “In Suryashtakam, first I visualised how the inner meaning of the verses could be brought out. Then we tried various movements for each to see how they would blend.”

Verses of Rumi

The dancers tried to emphasise the underlying theme of the oneness of spirit in their solos too, notes Sadanand, a disciple of Guru Rajendra Gangani. He also performed to verses of Rumi, in which, he points out, the concept is of the atma and the paramatma (the spirit yearning for union with the immortal spirit). “Our main objective was to say that we all have the same atma – Spirit,” says Sadanand.

On the whole, such duets are rare. While classical dancers of differing traditions do team up, Contemporary and classical are two C’s that don’t often come together. “We met when we were taking workshops for Sahitya Kala Parishad, and we thought we should try combining the two forms,” relates Shubhro, who started off learning Bharatanatyam as a boy of 10 in Kolkata before coming under the tutelage of the late Manjushree Chaki Sircar and joining the Dancers’ Guild.

The dancers for the group segments came from Shubhro’s workshops.

Shubhro has learnt Kathakali too, and till a few years ago was in the troupe of the late Contemporary choreographer Narendra Sharma. “I strongly believe that when you learn a classical form, your expression and body control become stronger. I am strongly influenced by the classical approach in my choreography,” says Shubhro.

While Sadanand presented some traditional pieces such as a tarana, Shubhro took up themes like death and destruction in “The Dance of Death”. What led him to choreograph it was “riots, the Nandigram issue and bomb blasts”. True, Indian dance traditionally expresses even death within aesthetic parameters, but, says Shubhro, “Sometimes we should go into reality. This is the political and social reality of India over the last five-six years.” The duo hopes to meet again in September to chalk out further plans. And though finances are always a challenge, Sadanand states, “We will take a new concept next time.”