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When dancers step in to fight for justice

Zara Khan
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HORROR REVISITED:Chennai-based Studio Dance enacting the gruesome incident in Chennai on Wednesday.— PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
HORROR REVISITED:Chennai-based Studio Dance enacting the gruesome incident in Chennai on Wednesday.— PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Months after the Delhi rape shook the nation’s conscience, a group of dancers came together on Wednesday to remind the public of one girl’s fight for life and dignity.

City-based Studio Dance held its annual recital at the Music Academy, and in a potentially controversial seven-minute dance performance, enacted the entire incident. 

According to members of the audience, the performance itself was well executed. This, despite the fact that a larger part of the troupe was kept in the dark about the planned performance. The audience too was taken by surprise.

The portrayal was a medley of dance and acting, with Preethi R., an instructor at the school, essaying the role of the victim, and S. Jeethandra, the artistic director, portraying India.   While most of the performance comprised modern dance, the more sensitive parts of the incident made use of shadow dance. 

The recital began with the depiction of normal life on the streets of Delhi. As evening fell, the roads grew deserted, the girl and her friend hailed the bus and the incident unfolded. 

“Everyone wants to try and adapt different things into dance.

This incident was something that shook all of us and we wanted to send out a message to the people to not forget. Public memory is like that, everything has been overshadowed by the IPL scandal, but we wanted to remind everyone that we must continue the fight for justice,” said Mr. Jeethandra. 

When asked if she thought the issue too controversial for a dance recital, Nandini Joshi, the mother of a 17-year-old student, said, “As a parent, I don’t feel the subject should be taboo. Society needs to be necessarily sensitised and made aware of safety and the importance of being careful.”

“The attitude of ‘it won’t happen to me’ has to go. Emotions and expressions from dance get people thinking, and a demonstration gets the point across better — nothing bad is too far away despite the city you live in. The dance described every point subtly and the performance was well-balanced for mixed company,” she added. 

Ms. Preethi, despite her initial misgivings, decided to take the lead in a performance that many of the dance troupe themselves were wary of. “I was scared but this was something close to my heart. The incident had shaken me to my core. I felt that I could do justice to the role and decided to go ahead,” she said.

“I cried looking at her performance,” said a dancer at the recital.

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