Across, Not Over is a collaborative dance production choreographed by Preethi Athreya – contemporary dancer/choreographer based in Chennai, performed by Kathak dancer/choreographer Vikram Iyengar – Artistic Director of Ranan: a performance collective-cum-dance institute based in Kolkata. Concept/ Choreography – Preethi Athreya
Performer – Vikram Iyengar
Venue – Spaces, Elliot’s Beach, Besant Nagar, Chennai
Music arrangement – Siddhartha Bhattacharyya
Vocal – Sudokhshina Manna Chatterjee
Sound score/ Scenography – Preethi Athreya
Publicity design – Pravin Kannanur
Videography – Vijay Bhoothalingam/ Pravin/ Akhilesh
Co-produced by – India Foundation for the Arts.
The full-length production can be viewed here –
The piece celebrates the subtle movements of the genderless ‘Kathak-body’ – much neglected in comparison to the more catchy-therefore-famous trademarks of Kathak – the footwork, the twirl and the ‘Rasa‘, in particular ‘Sringara’. The intricate expressions of the ‘kalai’ (wrist), the circular and linear motions of the upper body announcing the often unrecognized deep-set relationship of the muscles with the solar plexus, the lightweight angular head-movements that generate the mood and soul of Kathak are highlighted in the performance.
As the piece unfurls, The dancer plays more with the ideals of the traditional trademarks on rather non-traditional levels such as an inverted proscenium with the audience sitting on the stage, an imitation of conventional footwork with hands inside sports-shoes, a series of twirls on the floor as against ‘Chakkars’ all about the stage, the Blue of Krishna smeared with dirt and sweat and the Yellow of Radha – a streak engulfing the waistline of the dancer; a hint of a Thumri – a certain ‘Hindusthani’ form of vocal music depicting romance and frequently accompanying Kathak repertoires – combined with scraping noise and deliberately contaminated recording of the dancer’s interview emitting something very much like good-natured frustration at being forced to reside within the boundaries of the stereotype of easily palatable entertainment – especially vexing for male dancers who lack the socio-physical Brownie points of natural sexualization in Indian classical dance. The subtle air of irreverent humour, which is almost an emblem for Preethi Athreya’s creations, hangs in the air for a long time even after the dancer leaves the arena. It certainly emphasizes the big question mark that lingers in the mind of the audience: what really a classical art form is and what is it interpreted as or even forced to be!
Copyrights of photo and video – Preethi Athreya