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Bharatanatyam jazzed up

A New York-based dance company is going to perform in the city, mixing Bharatanatyam with contemporary moves. And guess what? It will be set to electronic music

The blending of disparate dance styles is probably old news now. But New York-based choreographer Parijat Desai is going to spin 'fusion' on its head. She is planning to merge Bharatanatyam with modern contemporary moves -- all of this peppered with electronic music.



The Parijat Desai Dance Company (PDDC) brings a hour-long unique performance to Mumbai for the first time. The performance will play out in two parts -- Make Space and Songs to Live For.

"Our choreography is about creating more space within traditional Bharatanatyam postures. Make Space is about playing with footwork and rhythm, using postmodern techniques to form a new footwork vocabulary," Desai says.

The dancer has trained in Bharatanatyam since age five and, according to her, hated it. "It was the 1970s in Houston, and Bollywood hadn't exploded in the way it has. I did not tell my friends that I was taking Bharatanatyam lessons," she remembers. It was during high school that she signed up for jazz classes. This helped her look at Bharatanatyam from a different perspective, she says. "I suddenly started loving two very different things. In college, I thought I needed to blend these two (dances) to represent my Indian American identity." Initially, she feared that she might offend her gurus, but realised later that blending is the "name of the game".

The troupe has already performed in Delhi and Kolkata (September 3 and 6 respectively) and won over purists. "Innovation is not considered a threat anymore," says Desai.
 
The Prakriti Foundation is hosting its fifth Park's New Festival, and has brought down Desai's dance company for it. The performing arts festival is travelling to six cities, and after its Mumbai show, will travel to Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

About the unique experimentation in PDDC's show, Ranvir Shah, Director of Prakriti Foundation, asks, "If you have a strong grounding in any art, whether Bharatanatyam or Kathak, who is to tell you cannot experiment?"

At: 7 pm, Sept 12, Experimental Theatre, NCPA, NCPA Marg,
Nariman Point 
Call: 22824567

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