Bharatanatyam in outer space

Foot stomping: Jayalakshmi Eshwar’s performance will be accompanied by visuals (like below).  

Over the course of a year, danseuse Jayalakshmi Eshwar’s original Bharatanatyam piece evolved into an extravagant performance in outerspace replete with electronica and sci-fi visuals. The opera which contemporises the 2010 production is titled Antariksha Sanchar. It’s is an amalgamation of different art forms, a collaboration between three artistes – Eshwar and her son, visual artiste Avinash Kumar aka Thiruda of musical duo BLOT!; and musician M.S.R Murthy aka Murthovic.

The transmedia presentation promises viewers a ‘multi-sensory, gripping journey into outer space’. It’s a representation of South Indian culture, showcasing the dreams and theories of mathematician S. Ramanujan, brought to life with eclectic visuals accompanied by a background Carnatic-electronic score.

Form and medium

The original choreography, Eshwar explains, was devoid of animation and graphics, with no dialogue. While elaborating on the concept of flying — for instance incorporating Hanuman’s ability — the dance also encompassed other aspects of Indian mythology like the Pushpaka Vimana and ancient Tamil scriptures including themes from the Vaimanika Shastra, a 20th-century Sanskrit text on aerospace technology. Though now heavily modified, Antariksha Sanchar will still centre round flight, but the approach will be more sensorial with visual and sonic elements.

Although hailing from a traditional background, Eshwar eschews puritanical views, embracing the blurring of art forms. But the essence of Bharatanatyam is the most important thing, which is celebrated Antariksha Sanchar. “For me, it is ultimately whether we are able to create an aesthetic on stage,” says the Bharatanatyam exponent. “It is not about whether I did it with electronic music or with animation, [the choreography] is very complex. As a dancer, I should be able to move with modern technology.”

When talking about the music for the show, Murthovic describes it as a micro-collaboration between various artistes working with electronic, Indian classical and Carnatic music as they attempt to create a unique sound. Antariksha Sanchars sonic experience is driven primarily by its story. “We don’t do pure Carnatic or pure electronic, it’s more like an aesthetic sound design for the story to take itself forward,” explains Murthovic. “It’s just a culmination of different art forms. To have room for every department to express and tell the story in conjunction is something that I’m happy to be a part of.”

As for the visual element of Antariksha Sanchar, a majority of the graphics were specifically designed for the show. Thiruda was inspired by his mother’s original production to create the adventure video game of the same name — which will release next year. “I would say 70-80% of the content we made for the show but it’s inspired by characters and features [from our our game],” says Thiruda who worked on the show with his team from Quicksand, the developers of the video game.

A celebration of Indian culture remains at the heart of Antariksha Sanchar. The aim has always been for people to have an immersive experience. “The production is going to highlight how people can still hold on to their culture and move forward,” concludes Eshwar.

Red Bull Music Presents Antariksha Sanchar will take place this evening at 8.30 p.m., see for details.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 7:54:05 PM |

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