Dance drama explores the mind of Indian women dancers

Jul 19, 2016, 07:45 IST | Suprita Mitter

A dance-drama that fuses Odissi, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dips into the inner world of Indian women dancers

Chennai-based NGO AIM (All India Movement) for Seva, an integrated community development programme that reaches out to rural and tribal children across India and also manages over 100 free student hostels in India is organising their annual fundraiser —Antar Yatra, The Journey Within. The 90-minute dance-drama will take the audience into the minds of women dancers of India, showcasing their tentative journey, of conflicting thoughts and emotions.

Antar Yatra at a performance in ChennaiAntar Yatra at a performance in Chennai

“A dancer’s mind goes through many creative processes. The piece is introspective. It is also about anyone who has a passion for something creative. It is not a linear story. It’s for people to interpret,” says director and choreographer Sharmila Biswas of the Odissi Vision & Movement Centre, who started working on the concept 18 months ago. “AIM for Seva, being involved with education, approached us to create a piece that would make people think,” adds Biswas, who was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2012 and is noted for originality in composition, technique and stage design. The production features songs in six different languages and three Classical Indian dance forms including Odissi, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. “The songs represent the three states — Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The forms have common history. All of them are temple dances,” shares Biswas, who has also been researching and documenting the temple dance traditions in Orissa.

Sharmila Biswas
Sharmila Biswas

The story is depicted using multiple voices of the narrator (played by Biswas) and also, through the art of shadow puppetry and Pinnal Kollattam (a rural game from Tamil Nadu). “Shadow puppetry is found in Tamil Nadu and Orissa. We use it fleetingly as an inspiration. The traditional forms lend greatly to the piece. The songs too, are traditional and we went to various scholars to find songs that are long forgotten. The process has been rewarding,” says Biswas. The show features 9 dancers in all including Amrita Lahiri, recognised as one of the foremost young performers of Kuchipudi, presenting the form in its traditional origins to its contemporary forms, Lakshmi Parthasarathy Athreya, who has been performing  Bharatanatyam for over 25 years, and Sashwati Garai Ghosh, who fascinates the audience with her Odissi moves leaving them spellbound.

Music director and performer Srijan Chatterjee (center) with dancers at a rehearsal
Music director and performer Srijan Chatterjee (center) with dancers at a rehearsal

There will be a live musical performance by Srijan Chatterjee, a disciple of Guru Arun Bhaduri, who is also the music director for the piece. All proceedings from the performance will go towards educating children. The dance-drama has been performed in Chennai and Pune and will continue to tour in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhuvaneshwar.

On: July 20, 7 pm
At: Yashwantrao Chavan Main Auditorium, Nariman Point.
Call: 22028598
Cost Rs 200 to Rs1,000

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