Dance

This stage production delves into the origins and evolution of belly dance

The production travels from the late 1790’s to the present day, exploring how the dance was adapted to different cultures and audiences.

City-based theatre group, Nrityakosh, will look at the evolution of belly dance with Safar-e-Raqs. “The actors will play European and Middle Eastern artistes who have shaped the modern belly dance vocabulary,” says Debapriya Das, dancer and founder of Nrityakosh.

The production travels from the late 1790’s to the present day, exploring how the dance was adapted to different cultures and audiences. The story is rooted to gendered perspectives of history, culture, society and people. “Safar-e-raqs is an attempt to understand and challenge the prevalent notions and conventions of belly dance and explore new modes of engagement with the audience,” says Debapriya.

This stage production delves into the origins and evolution of belly dance
 

Writers such as Gustave Flaubert and Oscar Wilde played a part in the evolution of the dance form. The production, directed by Debapriya , features actors Subhalakshmi Roy and Samrudhi Sridharan; belly dancers Shruti Kulkarni, Shruti Narayanan and Nivetha Shree. Arun Murthy has done the light design.

Debapriya, settled in Bengaluru, holds a Masters in Economics and has been trained in Bharatanatya from the age of eight from the Nalanda Dance Research Centre in Mumbai. Her interest in different dance forms led her to join classes for belly dance, contemporary, jazz and ballet. Later she went to Egypt and learnt Egyptian oriental dance forms and tribal fusion dance forms.

This stage production delves into the origins and evolution of belly dance
 

“Egyptian oriental dance styles are popularly referred to as belly dance, but belly dance is just one in the many styles that exist. One should remember that there is lot more to belly dance than scantily-clad women,” says Debapriya.

Many of us know belly dance because of the discoveries that the western travellers made during the 18th and 19th century. Some of these were facts and some figments of their orientalist imagination. However, all these discoveries went on to shape the dance form that we call the belly dance, explains Debapriya who has undertaken a research study on the wave of orientalism, the way the orthodox Victorian set-up in the West perceived the free and outspoken East.

The newer forms of belly dance that gradually evolved include the American tribal style that borrows movements from Flamenco, Kathak, Odissi, the tribal fusion belly dance fusing American tribal style and American cabaret with popping and hip hop; and the improvisational tribal style designed for group synchronisations.

This stage production delves into the origins and evolution of belly dance
 

Shruti Kulkarni plays Badia Masabni, a Syrian-Lebanese casino patron and dancer who adapted a folkloric belly dance for stage. She will showcase the origins of American cabaret of the 1970s. Shruti Narayanan will play Samia Gamal, who was the national dancer of Egypt and will showcase the Golden Era of belly dance in Egypt of 1930s. The exotic dancer-spy Mata Hari would be portrayed by Nrityakosh dancer, Ishita Agarwal.

Safar-e-raqs will be staged on January 21 at 4 pm and 7pm at Alliance Francaise. Tickets on Bookmyshow.

 

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 2:25:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/start-of-the-shimmy-n-shake/article22464459.ece

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