Theatre

Twain in tune

SOUL STIRRING Monica de la Fuente and Ravi Prasad. Photo: Special Arrangement

SOUL STIRRING Monica de la Fuente and Ravi Prasad. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Monica de la Fuente and Ravi Prasad say about their production, “Eka-Dvayam — The Voice of the Body”, “A search of the communion of both elements (voice and body) and a search of truth in the process of creation is what shapes the path of this experimental work.”

The show’s India premiere is scheduled for this Tuesday at the Instituto Cervantes. Monica, a Spanish actress and dancer trained in India in Bharatanatyam and Kathakali, is familiar with the idea of dance being essentially an art that gives form to sound. It is, classically speaking, drishya-kavya (visual poetry). But here, their search stems from a realisation that if artistes not born into a tradition are to go beyond imitation, they have to delve deeper than the outer forms — or sounds — to find their source. Ravi, trained in Carnatic music and settled in France for about three decades, discovered this when he began teaching there.

“The moment you try to embody Indian music you have to go through all the nuances and how the voice works in the singer’s body,” explains Monica. “This is something the masters don’t teach in India. This is a research that Ravi has been doing since he came to France: how he could teach the voice with all the Indian essence to foreigners.”

She elaborates, “The moment you approach people that are not from India you have to find a methodology.”The search for effective communication turned into Ravi’s artistic vocation. And it is mirrored in Monica’s own search to make the arts she learnt in India into her own expression. The two conduct classes and workshops at Espace Ravi Prasad, his studio in Toulouse, and have done a number of productions together. “Eka-Dvayam…” premiered in Spain this September. People found it a layered production, says Monica: On one level it was seen as the coming together of a male and female performer, on another the human search for communion, on yet another as symbols of the voice and the body, but essentially it is an autobiographical work, tracing individual journeys, one leaving his native soil and finding meaning in a new environment, and the other discovering arts rooted in an alien soil and bringing them back to her own country to craft her own language.

The journey of intercultural expression is a very personal one, notes Monica. “In my case, after training I had to find what was really assimilated and what was only decorative.” She gives an example: “I know I can do a beautiful mudra, but I have to be true to it.” Ideally, she agrees, every artiste, whether ‘foreign’ or ‘native’, has to find this truth, and eventually move beyond labels.

Monica, who received a scholarship from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations for six years, throughout which she trained in Bharatanatyam but also took up Kathakali — “it connected to my theatre background in Spain” — is happy to have been invited to ICCR’s Third International Dance Festival taking place at Kamani auditorium from October 8-10. Here, she and Ravi perform this Monday evening and she has selected a more classical format but still will attempt to show the essence of their approach.

“Eka-Dvayam — The Voice of the Body” October 9, Cervantes Institute, New Delhi, 7 p.m.

Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music at ICCR’s festival, October 8, Kamani auditorium, 6.30 p.m.



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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 7:55:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Twain-in-tune/article12548913.ece

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