December 9, 2014: The slur of reality shows in India has exposed India’s television-viewing audiences to many western contemporary dance forms, or rather, their watered down versions. Nevertheless, mentors like Ashley Lobo, Santosh Nair, and Terence Lewis have been pivotal in teaching contemporary dances in India. Quarter Fest was an evening of dance extravaganza to explore this ever exploding scene of contemporary dance in India. It was a promising sight to see different contemporary dance forms on stage all performed by dedicated dancers straining to do justice to their art, and the presence of Shri Satish C. Mehta, Director of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations who was the guest of honor at the event, was an encouraging prospect.
This was a two day event where eight different and enthralling choreographies were performed. On day two, the choreographers showcased were Meghna Bhardwaj, Neha Sharma, Amith Kumar and Yuko Harada from Danceworx, and the Bhavini Misra from Choreography society of Kamla Nehru College, Delhi University.
The first performance, 'Ghetto' reminded one of an artistic rendition of T.S. Eliot’s poetry. It was indeed inspired by the poem ‘Come Closer’ by Anis Mojgani which was narrated in the course of the dance; it drew inspiration from everyday lives of people in urban spaces, political disturbances, and separatism in the metropolis. ‘’Ghetto” is a metaphor for this condition which was expressed through dance, and the four dancers expressed this through the beautifully (and deliberately) jarring steps, and their expressions.
‘Commerce of Arts’, by Neha Sharma was a cry for the value of art in a world tainted by commerce and highlighted the necessity to keep the artists’ art pure while giving them the dignity of earning a living. This piece intertwined contemporary jazz with Chhau. ‘Heartbeat’ was a passionate diaspora of emotions on stage by the Danceworx, which was mentored over, and choreographed by the respected and talented Yuko Harada. We were thrilled to see these dances again, more polished and zealous than when they were last performed during Chrysalis.
‘Tithi’, choreographed by Amith Kumar of the Danceworx revolved around the relationship between humanity and their star, or ‘tithi.’ “I wonder if it is the fault in my stars or the fault in my thoughts?” quotes this choreographer and dancer from his poem titled ‘Tithi’ which was the influence behind this dance. The fluid, elegant movements of this dance rendered the audience awe struck; content and technique were at harmony in this composition.
However, nothing could quite top the grace of the dancers from Sadhya, whose costumes were innovative and fresh, subtly complementing the contemporary dance scene in India, which is what the show was all about. Santosh Nair did do a fantastic job of choreographing this dance, and the two day long delightful show. It was a wonderful surprise to have Kamla Nehru College’s Dance society showcase their talent through their dance, ‘Yuva Yatra’. The dancers showed much promise for the future of contemporary dance in India.
It was an evening well spent. As the ICCR Director Shri Satish C. Mehta, said in his vote of honour to the audience, this is but a start, and much more effort, talent, and innovation is required to sustain and flourish contemporary dance in India.
- Aparna Srivastava, Correspondent, The Dance Bible
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