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Updated: January 30, 2010 21:48 IST

Remembering Pina Bausch

DIVYA GANDHI
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Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

For Pina… an Attakalari performance, is Jayachandran Palazhy's tribute to the legendary dancer

Variously described as avant-garde, surreal, brutal, even grotesque, the late German dance-legend Pina Bausch's inimitable work will be affectionately commemorated in a new Indian offering For Pina… by Attakalari proponent Jayachandran Palazhy.

Contemporary dance choreographer Jayachandran, who brought us the critically acclaimed pieces “Purushartha” and “Transavatar”, says it is no small honour to have been chosen to choreograph a tribute for Pina Bausch, one of Europe's foremost choreographers, who passed away last year. For, she was, besides being a “subliminal” influence on him, someone specially connected with India, deriving from the country's dance forms for some of her pieces including ‘Bamboo Blues'.

While the piece is a dedication to Pina Bausch — who shocked audiences with her brave explorations of the human psyche — it is also an opportunity to showcase “fresh vantage points and unusual frames to experience Attakalari's unique movement vocabulary,” says Jayachandran. For Pina… is an exploration of male-female interactions, a theme that was an obsession with Pina Bausch whose treatment of it oscillated between tender and violent.

Jayachandran's Attakalari piece uses several media, including film installation and live music tuned to immerse the audience in a unique sonic experience, to commemorate her fascinating work and life. “I hope the audience goes away with an affectionate respect for Pina — she was not easily accepted when she first performed in India,” he says, adding that her use of nudity in the dance-theatre pieces, for instance, was not always well received.

Eclectic influence

Jayachandran, who is the artistic director of Attakalari Centre for Movement Arts, draws from his training in Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Indian folk forms and Kalari martial art, not to mention ballet, TaiChi, Capoeira and African Dance. Jayachandran's troupe has already performed the piece in Chandra Mandala in Chennai and Ranga Shankara in Bangalore and will travel to Taramati Baradari in Hyderabad (February 2); Goethe-Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan in New Delhi (February 5) and Kolkata on February 8.

Meanwhile, Jayachandran's older piece, the haunting Chronotopia, has been “maturing like wine” with every successive performance, and the troupe is looking forward to a Europe tour in March, he says. The multi-media performance piece is inspired by the Tamil epic Silapathikaram (The Anklet's Tale). This female-centric epic of loss and revenge will form the kernel of a contemporary “commentary on the sense of loss in a time of rapid changes,” Says Jayachandran.

The emotions of the central female character — portrayed by three artistes — are mirrored in the external landscape, in a narrative style derived from classical Tamil poetry, he explains. An unlikely musical score, a combination of nadaswaramand Mongolian throat singing, has been composed to evoke another time, while film projections add another layer to the performance.

“In this piece a woman is more than a gender: she represents a silenced mass that has to bear upheavals created by someone else. What makes the story particularly evocative is how the protagonist finds the strength to fight back when pushed against the wall.” Here, stylised physical movements work in a continually-changing stage architecture. According to Jayachandran, “These physical movements are derived from contemporary experiences, imagination and memories, organized to create a sensorial journey that is without chronology.”

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