Sudha Chandran talks about her latest production, "Nine Avatars of Durga", and the present state of classical dance in India at a recently held event in the Capital.
How did you conceptualise “Nine Avatars of Durga”?
We have basically visualised a travelogue and the theme is the “never say never” attitude which focuses primarily on women. The intention is to encourage a fighting spirit among women when faced with adversities and complexities by empowering them. In this concept, we talk about Durga, Ganga, Bharat Mata and Radha. We have also portrayed Bharat Mata as a powerful force despite the many atrocities that she faces. Further, we have also portrayed Kali and Vaishno Devi battling ‘kalyug’ (the dark age). Full credit goes to our choreographers who conceptualised the entire act of the ‘nine avatars’.
With To which of the form of nine avatars would will you associate the present Indian woman of today?
That would be Ganga, because despite being polluted everyday it still goes on to purify the essence of one’s soul. We have represented her as the modern Indian woman, where, like other females of our age, she too broods over burning issues like rape and other miseries. Further, we believe that it’s time that women fight back and rise above such atrocities. This can be only attained by empowerment through self-reliance and self-belief
What is your take on the evolving forms of dance?
Classical dance is the mother of all dances. Classical dance is well appreciated by people in South India, but when we head northwards we have to make people aware. It is for this reason that we have also resorted to filmy devotional songs, which is easier for the audience to connect with.
However, we have not deviated from classical dance completely. With a base of semi-classical, we have just added a Bollywood flavour to our performance.
With a lot of street dance being promoted through reality dance shows and films, do you think youngsters are losing interest in the classical form?
Not really. There was a time when Western dance forms had taken over Indian classical forms. However, today even in a reality show, when there are 10 rounds for Western dance performances, there is still one episode on classical dance in which the performer’s mettle is put to test.
I feel that if one knows the classical form, he or she can perform any dance form, which is clearly shown on such shows as well. It is important for a budding artiste to learn any classical form, be it dancing or singing.
How far have you come with the Jaipur foot?
It certainly takes some time to adapt to change as you have to get into that mindset as well as adapt to one’s own body language. But I think that with time I have overcome that hindrance.