This year, the theme at the 15th Natya Darshan Conference, taking place in Chennai, is Jvaala Vyapnoti Aakaasam (the rising light fills space). Artistes will premiere dance choreographies incorporating this line. Mumbai will be represented at this prestigious conference by Bharatanatyam dancer Vaibhav Arekar who will perform his interpretation as well. "I wrote one-word ideas that could be developed. A few words such as awakening stuck with me for some reason. Initially, I had four stories with four different characters but conceptually, it was becoming too superficial. Hence, I selected only one character Sant Naamdev — and the awakenings in his life. Naamdev is one of the foremost saints from the Vaarkari Sampradaya of Maharashtra who popularised the Bhagwat dharma in the 12th century," shares Arekar.
The production's choreography centres on Naamdev and his relations with Vithala, his own self as well as society. The choreography uses traditional interpretations, abstract narrations and classical motifs to portray Naamdev's journey, from being an individual identity to a philosophical concept. "I do not advocate forcing the Bharatanatyam margam format into a theme when creating new works around a concept. It is the theme that dictates the choreography. Hence, I wait for the dance design and choreography to evolve out of the theme," informs Arekar.
"At the initial stage, I break the storyboard into smaller sections to study which interpretations suit it. Then, when you take it to floor for actual choreography, it is more like a laboratory where the pieces arise out of trial and errors." he reveals, adding that lately abstract narrations have fascinated him more.
On: January 20 and 21 (Vaibhav Arekar will perform on 21 at 7 pm)
At: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, Chennai.