A dancer with a bucket atop her head graced the stage which was donned with a clothes line on which a bed -sheet, and a pair of pants were hung. A reality television dance competition was mimicked, and so was a YouTube video on how to attract a guy; ancient Roman soldiers danced to beautiful melodies, and a passionate dance on heartbeat conveyed, like all the dances before it, the same resounding message – ‘’We think too much, and feel too little.” These contemporary dance forms, using modern dance, jazz, ballet, and even Indian classical, were masterfully performed by upcoming dancers running, flowing, and gliding through the stage. Peek-A-Boo (Chanda Sharma), Commerce of Arts (Neha Sharma), Ctrl C, Ctrl V (Riya Mandal), Be (Sanchita Sharma, Himanshu sharma), and Heartbeat (Yuko Harada, The Danceworx) displayed not only the impressive potential of India’s young contemporary dancers, but also the growth of Indian contemporary dance over the years.
This dance show was part of day two of the Contemporary Arts Week, Delhi, organized by Friends of Art (FoA). Shohini, the founder of FoA, believes that Indian arts need a platform, a place to grow, and providing proper production for the arts is conducive for their blossoming, and chrysalis, an unfurling of expression, emotion, and potential. The event, which took place in the India Habitat Centre was an exemplum of this fact, and was a stunning kaleidoscope of innovation in art - GyanDev Singh provided excellent lighting, the costumes were unique, the props innovative; the young choreographers who had been mentored by Yuko Harada and Sheila Raj, translated their thrilling ideas into dances performed by a troupe of driven young dancers. Yuko commented that “dance is not solely about the dancers, it includes costume, lighting, and lot of extraneous effort, and this is something aspiring dancers in India must come to terms with”.
Another remark made by Yuko capsulated an interesting aspect of the event, “the event has seen a huge change, as the dance pieces had to be choreographed for a longer time span, and this allowed for speech to be incorporated within the dance”. Almost all dances had speech interwoven within the dance, as words and movements interfused together very smoothly to add to the complexity, and beauty of the dances. ‘Commerce of Arts,” with its contemporary Western style mingled with subtle Indian classical movements, was a poignant piece which expressed the dancers’ need to fill their stomachs even as their art satiated their souls.
Ctrl C, Ctrl V was an innovative presentation of the trap we all fall into-social conditioning, which is bred by blindly following norms and dictums of society. It was a unique endeavor, which ended with the collated bodies of its three dancers, as they dramatized a YouTube DIY video on how to attract a guy. Choreographer Riya Mandal says, “I was trying to find dancers who could move like me, but I realized that it is hard to find dancers who move like you, and ended up forming this trio, despite our dissimilar body movements. Two of us are contemporary dancers, and one b-boys. I realized how conditioned we get, like me (laughs) with my legs crossed liked this as I sit”. Her dance was a rebellion against this conditioning, and reminded one of art’s potential to rebel against the norm.
The atmosphere of this evening was energetic, and rife with bright ideas – be it the dancer in Peek a Boo who uses everyday objects, symbolized by a bucket, to view life; or the roman soldiers, living up to Charlie Chaplin’s words to which they also swayed, asserting that we think too much, but feel too little, and their dance ‘Be’ was then, about the art’s potential for humanity against a world bent upon treating them like cattle. The Danceworx’s special performance, the Heartbeat, also lived up to its name as it gave a nuanced and energetic performance in its bright red costumes.
Agreed, that the stage seemed too small for the dancers to move freely, and that some shadows were unintentionally cast on the walls of the Stein Auditorium, but Chrysalis was a huge success, and a huge moment of encouragement for contemporary dance in India.
- Aparna Srivastava (Correspondent, The Dance Bible)
With such a cracker of an event on the opening weekend, the Contemporary Arts Week is sure to unfold brilliant gems of performances. Do not miss this Delhi!
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