It was in the 1980s that the German artist Siegward Sprotte first saw danseuse Aditi Mangaldas, then a part of the legendary Birju Maharaj’s dance troupe, perform at a show in Paris. Taken in by her performance, he created a series of paintings dedicated to her, called ‘For Aditi/Aditi Dancing’. Now, on the occasion of his centenary, Mangaldas pays tribute to the artist through her contemporary dance performance titled Now Is.
“Now Is is dedicated to the artist whose work spans 75 years of work. Sprotte had a unique way of looking at the world,” says Mangaldas. “It is a quest to see whether it is possible to live creatively in the present. It is a dialogue between dance, music and visuals,” she says.
The contemporary dance programme is a joint effort choreographed by Mangaldas, with music by Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan, and features Sprotte’s paintings.
“To live in the now is to be free of time,” says Mangaldas. “This performance is meditative and introspective. I like dynamic dance, and trying to convert it into internal dynamics is a challenge,” she says. “This show is a world premiere of the performance, and I’m excited that it’s in Mumbai. Mumbai audiences appreciate the mélange of the classical and contemporary.”
Sprotte’s son, Armin, is in town on the occasion of the tribute. “My father was highly influenced by Indian philosopher J Krishnamoorthy. He believed that real change is in the moment. He also believed in creating,” he says.
Incidentally, Mangaldas and Sprotte met thanks to Armin. They were friends in J Krishnamoorthy’s school in England. Mangaldas invited her friends to her performance in Paris a few years later. “I didn’t expect anyone to turn up,” she laughs, “but Sprotte Sr flew down with his wife from North Germany. I was flabbergasted when I saw his paintings dedicated to me. When I see it now, I see how his artist’s vision painted me in such a contemporary form, even when I was solely a classical dancer. He saw then what I see now,” she sighs.
Mangaldas has been working on this piece for years now. “Sprotte’s 100th birthday is the perfect occasion to pay tribute to him,” she says.
The tribute to Sprotte continues with an exhibition of his work, watercolours and oils that have never been seen before in India, including some from the Aditi Dancing series, at Tao Art Gallery from November 23 to December 5.
At: November 19, 7 pm, Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA