The North-East is an amalgam of beauty and aggression: Astad Deboo

After 2012's presentation, Interpreting Tagore, Contemporary dance choreographer Astad Deboo returns to Mumbai with his latest multi-city production, Rhythm Divine II, that highlights issues faced by the North-Eastern population of the country. It also features nine-minute long pirouettes and Classical forms such as Manipur’s Pung Cholom

Q. What are the highlights of your latest production, Rhythm Divine II?
A. It begins on a gentle note, reflective of ordinary life as it is lived in the North-East, with a gradual build-up to the sense of insecurity and fear against which many people in the region conduct their existence. The build up to the crescendo is gradual and powerful, with drums coming into play.

Rhythm Divine II
Rhythm Divine II

Q. What drew you to choose this particular region as the theme?
A. The North-East is a heartbreaking amalgam of natural beauty and militant aggression, of lightning moves and glacial response, of turbulence of politics and the calm pace of tradition, flowing one below the other like twin rivers.

Rhythm Divine II
Rhythm Divine II, the latest production by Astad Deboo (above left), will feature an amalgamation of forms like Kathak and Kathakali with Contemporary dance along with use of Pung Cholom, Kartal Cholom and Dhol Cholom from the Manipuri style by the drummers

Q. Which are the Classical forms that are being showcased? How much of a challenge was it to showcase such diverse forms in one performance?
A. There is no particular Classical form, which is being showcased. It is my style, which is an amalgamation of other forms, primarily Kathak and Kathakali, and the Contemporary dance style that I have acquired over my decades of travel and study. Along with this, there is the use of Pung Cholom, Kartal Cholom and Dhol Cholom from the Manipuri style by the drummers. All the drummers will perform Akash Bhramari (aerial rotations) as well. There is a challenge whenever you are creating new work. However, the challenge faced by Classical dance is not one that I face since I now have my own style and have also been working with the drummers for over 10 years. So, I am familiar with their technique and what they bring to the table, vis-à-vis the Classical form. So, as a creator, I have an idea of what form to expect from them for that particular aspect of the choreography.

Q. Could you tell us about the drummers who will be performing with you?
A. A decade ago, the Pung Cholom drummers came into my life, young, vigorous, steeped in their own traditions, performing with their instruments in a comforting cycle of familiar security. I wanted them to change. Their guru, Seityaban Singh, head of Shree Shree Govindji Nat Sankirtan in Imphal, who was already knowledgeable about my work with martial art performers in the Thang-Ta tradition, proved an invaluable and prescient ally.

Q. What’s next on your itinerary?
A. The show will travel around India. After Mumbai, we go to Jamshedpur. For the first time in 16 years, I will be performing this production in Manipur under the aegis of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, which I am looking forward to. Then I head back to Korea to continue with the production, Hamlet_Avataar, which premiered this October.

On: Today and December 17, 7 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call: 66223737

At the show

>> Astad Deboo, who is known for his pirouettes, will be turning for nine minutes in this performance. This section is inspired from the planets and the solar system.
>> Classical forms such as Pung Cholom, Kartal Cholom, Dhol Cholom and Bol Cholom will be used in the Contemporary choreography.
>> The event will also feature a 17-year-old performer who will perform 40 pirouettes and 10 drummers.

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