A painter's parable

Aug 18, 2013, 09:26 IST | Phorum Dalal

Contemporary dancer Kalpana Raghuraman will present The Spirit of Frida, a 20-minute multimedia performance based on Mexican painter Frida Kahlo

What happens when a dancer, who relies so much on the physical body for movement and expression, decides to portray a Mexican painter, bedridden for months at a stretch after a major accident? The Spirit of Frida, a 20-minute multimedia contemporary piece, is born, which will be showcased at Max Mueller Bhavan today at 4 pm.

Kalpana Raguhraman’s performance will focus on Mexican painter Frida Kahlo’s spirit of overcoming physical problems with courage. Pic/ Sanjeevini Dutta

“I was commissioned to work on a piece inspired by an epic woman outside India for the Fine Arts’ Natya Darshan Festival in Chennai last December. I contemplated and meditated over the work, and one morning, I just knew it had to be Frida Kahlo,” says 38-year-old Kalpana Raghuraman, an artist-in-residence at the Korzo theater, one of Holland’s main producers of contemporary dance. Trained in Bharatanatyam, the performance is peppered with classical Indian movements.

“I read her works, and the idea sounded lovely. I didn’t want the piece to be a narration of her life events like a typical biography, that sounded boring. As a dancer, who relies on her body so much, I would lie on the floor, motionless, and think about how I would feel if I were Kahlo, who suffered physical problems after a major accident that affected her back. Her pain made her creative, as she battled relapses, miscarriages, sometimes bedridden. All this transformed into her paintings, making them rich and symbolic,” explains Raghuraman, who focused on highlighting Kahlo’s physical problems, countered with her dare devil nature.

“I took this difference as a source of inspiration. Physical restriction takes us to places we could have never cognitively thought of. You connect to the character on a deeper level, and it is at the back of your mind, as you are constantly reviewing scenes in your mind trying to improvise.”

Organised by Dance Dialogues, the performance will take place in an informal environment. At the end, Raghuraman will show excerpts of her other works and engage in a question-answer session with the audience.

When: Today, 4 pm
Where: Library, Goethe-Institut Mumbai, K Dubash Road,
Kala Ghoda
entry: Free 

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