Three young choreographers talk about their work to be shown at the Habitat this Saturday
Warmed up and ready — that they seem to be, these three choreographers who have just completed the first summer residency for choreographers organised by the dancers’ forum Gati. They take their creations to the stage this Saturday at the India Habitat Centre, 7.30 p.m. in an evening titled “All Warmed Up”.
At Gati’s neat rehearsal space in South Delhi, the three young artistes — Veena Basavarajaiah, Manola K. Gayatri and Swati Mohan — are buoyant as they look back on their experience of being mentored by theatre personality Maya Krishna Rao, dancer-choreographer Navtej Johar and the young theatre director and designer Zuleikha Chaudhari.
“I’d heard Navtej and Maya Krishna Krishna Rao, but I had never met them before,” explains Manola. I was very interested in Zuleikha’s lighting work, but my own choreography is very different so I couldn’t get the benefit of that.”
“They weren’t with us at every step,” explains Veena of the mentoring process. “More than spoon feeding, it was more of an outside eye. When you’re in it, you can’t see it from the outside.” Also, adds Veena, having three mentors from disparate backgrounds helped give their work better perspective. “It’s been a perfect blend. They gave certain inputs which only a dancer might not have been able to give.”
If the seniors have varying perspectives, so do the choreographers. Veena, based in Bangalore, is an Indian Contemporary dancer trained in Bharatnatyam, Kalaripayattu and Contemporary Dance. Manola, currently pursuing her M.Phil in Jawaharlal University’s department of Arts and Aesthetics came to dance from a theatre background. “For me, dance has been about a relationship with the body — how you give it artistic expression,” says Manola. Of her choreography, she says, “It’s been part having a set of steps and another part improvisation and another part setting up a structure and leaving them to explore.” Not appearing in her own piece, she has worked with two young dancers, Aranyani Bhargav and Ranjana Dave.
Swati, on the other hand, arrived at a serious pursuit of dance through the Bollywood route. In her childhood, she points out, Madhuri Dixit and her contemporaries were idols. “Later it was Britney Spears, and then I went on to Pina Bausch,” recounts Swati, as Manola interjects, “It’s a quantum leap, actually!”
Swati’s presentation, “Doha”. “It’s inspired by one couplet of Kabir,” she explains. It’s about who is the real doer. The treatment of the movement is completely inspired by the text — its words, its alphabets, the repetition of words.”
Veena’s work, “Maya” is based on an interaction she had with a scientist who explained the theory of relativity to her in terms comprehensible to a lay person. So her piece deals “with the illusion of mechanical time — it’s a big illusion we’ve tuned ourselves to. The concept of season, evolution…everything is an illusion.”
Manola’s piece is called “Excess”, but the title is pared down from a more excessive one, “Excess — the soul/body between Akka and Magdala”. Manola, who says her titles are always long, describes her piece as being about “the excess of love in these women’s lives.” It’s also about her own relationship with these two very different historical and literary figures, and understanding “where is the Akka in Magdala and where is the Magdala in Akka,” as Manola explains. For the time being we have not far to look. India Habitat Centre is the place to be, this Saturday.