DANCE ‘MeiDhwani', an Attakalari production, will represent the individual's life in a turbulent world

Attakkalari Centre for Movement of Arts, Bangalore presents ‘MeiDhwani: Echoes of the Body', a contemporary dance production directed by founder and artistic director Jayachandran Palazhy

Palazhy talks about the ideation and drawing from both traditional and contemporary sensibilities to come up with his own creative language.

What inspired you to come up with the concept of ‘MeiDhwani' – or ‘Echoes of the Body'?

I was concerned by the several upheavals that have been going on in our world recently — from the Arab spring to the general economic turmoil. Also, in relation to Bangalore, I became acutely aware of the unorganised and rapid rate of urbanisation — you blink your eyes and a new building's sprung up! I feel that in the midst of all this turbulence and globalisation, the individual's life is being disrupted, being caught in a delicate state of flux; all these ruptures and changes affect our sensibility as well as the body. ‘MeiDhwani' looks at the individual who is a captive of both circumstance and history, mapping the residues of this global instability onto the body. What underpins the show is the Indian idea of the five elements and the concept of these as the basic components of human being.

So although a ‘contemporary' production, will the dance reflect this more traditional dimension?There will always be an oscillation between traditional and contemporary life, and the dance locates itself within that ‘suspended space', as it were. In fact, Attakkalari conducted extensive research into ancient Indian physical and performance tradition such as Bharatanatyam and the Kerala martial art form, Kalarippayattu to study the different forms of movement. Contemporary artistes navigate through inherited traditional knowledge — see, at Attakalari we root ourselves in tradition, and though we are inspired by the ancient arts, we are not limited by them. This is the essential motto behind all my work.

What would you say is the general aim of this Attakkalari work?

Creativity lies at the centre of Attakkalari. We want our dancers to develop the faculties that enable them to think creatively and to build on our tradition without, as I said earlier, being limited by it. We want to facilitate the creation of multiple creative languages and modes of expression through movement — to encourage the development of multiple idioms of India.

Without giving too much away, of course, what do you hope that ‘MeiDhwani' will convey to your audience in Chennai?

Dance is an empathetic form. Scientific research has indicated that the mirror neurone (a neuron that fires both when a person acts and when the person observes the same action performed by another) in the brain shows activity during a dance performance — that is, the audience and the performer have the same reaction, hence creating an empathetic bond. So I want audiences to enter with an open mind, and allow their sensorial and intellectual faculties take them on this journey, which I hope will help lift ourselves from the routine to experience something that is out of the ordinary.

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