Draupadi meets Maya Angelou
An artiste weaves in spoken word and dance to revisit the tragedy of the mythological heroine
Two years ago, when Bharatanatyam exponent Vidhya Subramanian started working on her solo dance-theatre performance Still I Rise, she had little inkling of how relevant the piece would come to be in the time of #MeToo.
Inspired from the powerful Maya Angelou poem that goes by the same name, Subramanian's performance incorporates neo-classical Bharatanatyam and spoken word to revisit the vilified character of Draupadi from Mahabharat. "In 2005, I did a standalone piece on Angelou's Still I Rise for a women's organisation. Since then, the poem has continued to haunt me."
It's, however, two lines from Angelou's powerful verse - Out of the huts of history's shame I rise, Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise - that she remembers, really stayed with her. "Somewhere along the way, I also wanted to work on Draupadi, and how she embodies every woman. Somehow Angelou's work and Draupadi connected together in my mind and that's how the idea was born," says Subramanian, adding, "When we talk about Draupadi, we don't idolise or praise her like other heroines of mythology, Sita or Radha, for insance. She is often ostracised. To me those lines from Angelou's poem is evocative of Draupadi's life."
The dance-theatre piece interprets the pivotal episodes in Draupadi's life seen from a first-person perspective. Set to original music by Rajkumar Bharati, it uses mythology as a take-off point to transcend into the imaginary, and build a bridge between myth and reality. "I wanted to look at Draupadi through the lens of her relationships with people, and so, you will see my character have conversations with Yudhisthira, Gandhari and Krishna, through both, dance and spoken word," says Subramanian, of her piece, which will be staged alongside Kaishiki Nrityabhasa's Hark, which again explores new dimensions in dance-theatre, through the story of a mother, her two daughters, and two daughters-in-law.
Subramanian believes that art can play an important role, in portraying the painful experiences that women go through. "Art is the often best listener, because you can throw anything at it, and it will either chew it and throw it out, or absorb it," she says.
WHEN: 6.30 PM onwards
WHERE: Experimental Theatre: NCPA, Nariman Point, NCPA Marg
ENTRY: Rs 200
TO BOOK: in.bookmyshow.com
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