Moves that explain Tagore

Astad Deboo will present his interpretation of Rabindranath Tagore in a performance titled, Interpreting Tagore, at the NCPA this Tuesday. Expect huge puppets and masks, and a larger-than-life experience

Known for leaving the audience with an overwhelming visual experience, contemporary dancer Astad Deboo's latest production, Interpreting Tagore is expected to offer not just a trademark Deboo performance, but also his understanding of legendary bard Rabindranath Tagore. The production, which has been choreographed to mark Tagore's 150th birth anniversary, will premier this Tuesday at the National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA).

While in 1995, Deboo had presented a solo based on Tagore's work, he says expect this performance to be radically different. For one, Interpreting Tagore will include eight youngsters Deboo has been training for the last four years. His association with them kicked off when they were street children supported by the Salaam Balak Trust. "The kids are very talented. Three of them even teach other younger kids," says Deboo. Some of the youth were also part of his previous production, Breaking Boundaries, a performance that explored the concept of space and body.

With his latest work, he wanted to present his own understanding of the Bengali legend, he says, and, in a way, pay tribute to the master. "I wanted to present something on Tagore on the occasion of his 150th birth year," he says, adding, "I have used Tagore's poems as inspiration and choreographed four pieces based on them. They are inspired by Aruna Chakravarti (author) translations."

Deboo has been working since August this year to put together the 80-minute performance. "It took me two weeks to choreograph the 15 minute piece, Walking Tall. In it, there are three sets of movements unfolding simultaneously," he says. The pieces in Interpreting Tagore -- Walking Tall, Your Grace, Surrender and Awakening -- have all been set to world music. "The music for the performance is complicated," admits Deboo. "I was in Milan when I met Frederico Senesei, whose music I liked and decided to use for the performance," he says.

Walking Tall, is semi-autobiographical," he shares. "It talks about engaging with dance, the mafia and the corporate world," Your Grace is about Goddess Kali and his offerings to her. At age 64, Deboo's enthusiasm and excitement for dance is hard to miss. After having received worldwide acclaim, what continues to drive him? "I guess I still have a fire in my belly. And there's so much more I can do," he says. "But keeping up energy levels does get difficult sometimes."

The Padma Shri awardee continues to remain humble. "I guess it's just in my nature," he says with a smile about his modesty. Deboo's love and passion for dance comes through not just in his performances, but in his speech too. Having travelled to various countries that have hosted his performances, he says, "Wherever I go, the response has been heartening. It really is very inspiring."  Deboo has already been approached by the Government of India and the Ministry of Culture to take his new production overseas.

At: 7 pm, November 29, Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
Entry: Rs 600, Rs 400 & Rs 200
Call: 66223724/66223754

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