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Meet a dancing Frida

It is always inspiring to see how pain can lead people to become bigger than themselves. Take the instance of Che Guevara or Frida Kahlo; both due to certain physical impediments were impelled to achieve unimaginable feats. Kalpana Raghuraman, a Bharatanatyam and contemporary dancer will perform, The Spirit of Frida, at the city-based Dance Dialogues forum where the audience is bound to enjoy and contribute as well.

Kalpana Raghuraman as Frida Kahlo
Kalpana Raghuraman as Frida Kahlo. Pic/Simon Richardson

“The solo was made in December as Anita (founder, Arangham Dance Theatre) asked me to create a performance piece on a strong woman who was from outside India. It was performed at the Epic Women Festival in Chennai,” informs Raghuraman. Later, Raghuraman admits that her search was intuitive where she kept thinking that “one night maybe, I will just dream about somebody and it actually happened” in her words.

She is known for her training in Bharatanatyam and for being artiste in residency at the Korzo Theatre, which happens to be a co-producer of the piece. “It was not about my training in certain dance forms that led me to making the piece. Rather, it was about how to use my whole body to express her, which my body instinctively chose. The piece goes beyond the form,” relays the Holland-born dancer stressing that the gamut is beyond technique and training.

When quizzed about how she tried to translate the pains Frida suffered from in movement (after an accident, the Mexican painter was bedridden), Raghuraman leads, “Frida was inspirational. She endured immense physical pain but despite it she dared to dream. I thought of her fiery and temperamental personality as well as the emotionalism and symbolism that her works evoked. It was like going beyond the mind.”

As the movements of her piece catch an infliction on the body that the mind seems to resist, Raghuraman narrates, “I would start saying, ‘I am Frida, lying in bed. How would I move and paint?’ Thinking of her, I tried to walk and fall.”

The performance piece has an added dimension of multimedia work, which was added to share more about Frida with the Chennai audience, who were apprehensive of their knowledge of the feminist figure. She is excited about the show: “Ranjana Dave (the founder of the forum) said that there’ll be a Q&A session, which means a lot to them. I am looking forward to the performance and hope to come back with a collection of new works afterwards.”

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