Conditions Of Carriage

Conditions of Carriage‘ is a contemporary dance piece choreographed by Preethi Athreya. Created out of tasks based on finding ways to carry the dancing bodies on and above the ground, Conditions of Carriage is a group-choreography touching upon balance, empathy, rigour and the intersection of sports and dance.

The following link is a collage of various performances of this work.

Photo credit – Sharan Devkar Shankar (at IGNITE! festival, Delhi)

Copyrights of video and photo – Preethi Athreya

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Brihannala: A Myth, A Journey, A Dance-conversation

A conversation with Aniruddhan Vasudevan (first published in Aainanagar)

Aniruddhan Vasudevan is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, performer, writer, translator and activist based in Chennai. His dance/theater piece ‘Brihannala’ raises questions about gender in Indian Dance, Theater and society.

“I had watched an earlier version (excerpts of which are to be found in this page) of this piece in Chennai four years ago, and a desire to talk to Aniruddhan about it has been there ever since.” – Madhushree (interviewer).

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Scene from Brihannala

Q: Why Brihannala? It’s an Indian mythological character and as a Bharatanatyam dancer you may have sought your protagonist in that literature…there might be other reasons…but I’m naturally assuming that the issue is the so-called social ambiguity of gender. But then there were other characters with – I shouldn’t say similar – may be parallel gender-issues like Shikhandi, Yuvanashva, even Chitrangada in the same literature.

Aniruddhan: The answer to that is, I am afraid, rather simple and straightforward. I started learning Bharatanatyam in 1988 when I was six years old. That was also the year BR Chopra’s famous mega TV series, ‘Mahabharat,’ started airing on Doordarshan. The episodes that had me riveted were the ones where we see the Pandavas in the thirteenth year of their exile, living in disguise in the kingdom of Virata. Arjuna becomes Brihannala, a transgender woman. I was really enthralled by that visual representation of Arjuna’s temporary transformation. That impact, I think, stayed with me. Later, as a queer adult, I have had moments of deep gender crisis, but they were always short-lived, though intense, experiences. And when I looked for some kind of a metaphor or a short-hand or an ideal-type to understand these temporary intensities of gender I experienced, I thought of Brihannala again. Plus, I also had this weird crush on the Arjuna I saw on TV, and I could not tell if it was actually a puppy crush on the actor (Feroz Khan) who played the role). Then later there was also this intense Krishna love, triggered by dance songs and Vaishnava poetry. So all of it seemed to somehow converge on Brihannala as a figure that helped me make some order out of this chaotic flow of desires.

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Padme: The Obscure Lotus-bud

Madhushree

Padme– brain-child of Netherlands-based contemporary (trained in Bharatanatyam) dancer, choreographer Kalpana Raghuraman and India-based contemporary (formerly Bharatanatyam) dancer, choreographer, dance-journalist, dance-producer-presenter Anita Ratnam– has been one of those long-awaited long-advertised contemporary dance productions all over the social (dance) media. December 25th, 7:45 in the morning, Chandralekha’s Spaces– the clay-court of Indian dance performances, looking onto the waves of the Indian Ocean at Besant Nagar, Chennai, was just the apt venue and time for the troupe first time visiting the city– the soft sun and the morning-breeze cleansing the Margazhi frenzy of last evening, the smell of damp leaves and wet sand welcoming us to the sweaty clammy weighty brain-racking physicality that dance is.

I had arrived to Chennai just the day before, after a desperate year-long hunger for watching dance performances. And there it was– fresh and fleshy to be pounced upon– the one that I have been often reading and contemplating about in last few weeks. Padme has been different in many ways. Result of a cross-continental collaboration between Ratnam and Raghuraman, respectively the co-producer along with Korzo Productions and the choreographer of Padme, as well as seven young Classical dancers from Bangalore, keen and excited to travel the new path– Padme has been, from the beginning to the end, a professionally commercial piece promoting the youth as a package along with all its components of freedom, freshness and arrogance, which is often a good thing to some extent.

padme

The program started with a music repertoire titled as Float performed by Anil Srinivasan on the piano and Krishna Kishor on the percussion. I am a regular back-bencher when it comes to music shows, but that day it was not just my intrinsic musical shyness but also the already packed rows of chairs replacing the more frequently present striped carpets at The Spaces. As it happens with music, it was possibly working for some and not for the rest. I was one of the latter. I repeat though– I am really a philistine when it comes to music; besides I might have been too distracted trying to save myself from nature’s well-directed droppings from the overhead greenery. Yet, what put me off that day was not that particular form of art but its presentation in a manner of calculated corporate nicety, even during the Jugalbandi. Somehow it did not fit as a justified inauguration to an experimental art-piece! But then there was the Narthaki booklet in bright red and black with thousand dance anecdotes as well as the inimitable enigma of Anita Ratnam herself with all of her five feet and eight inches to keep my eyes occupied. For such a long time she has been a name to look up to for so many young Classical dancers (including myself, ages back, in a workshop in Kolkata) all over India, providing some of them with space, money and most importantly inspiration to work differently within but at the same time out of the Classical terrains, to come out of the labyrinth of the guru-shishya parampara and claim one’s Art as one’s own. But of course after the claim comes the matter of accepting the responsibility of it. That is where Padme failed.

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‘Stranger In Indian Paradise’ With David Rolland

Recently David Rolland Choréographies created `Stranger in Indian Paradise‘ – a contemporary dance production in association with Basement 21 and through The Embassy of France in India, Institut Français en Inde, the Alliance Française de Delhi and the Alliance Française network presented two shows in Chennai and Delhi, as part of DanSe DialogueS festival, from April 11 to 29, 2014 throughout India.

L’Etranger au Paradis Indien

The production featured ten dancers walking on carpets of different designs (by David Rolland and Sumant Jayakrishnan) – the walk varying with each carpet. The styles of walking were inspired from the designs – sometimes airy and animatedly `dancy’ along the colorful, curves, sometimes grave and heavy, exploring tensions created by the contrast of the vibrant base, the playfulness of the intersecting lines and the achromatic intensity of the moving bodies, sometimes ethereal, almost weightless like memories from remote past.

Excerpts of the production can be viewed here:

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Light Doesn’t Have Arms To Carry Us

`Light doesn’t have arms to carry us‘ is a contemporary dance piece created and performed by Preethi Athreya – contemporary dancer based in Chennai.

The following video is of a full-length performance of the same at Alliance Francaise of Madras.

Copyrights of photo and video – Preethi Athreya

 

Sweet Sorrow

`Sweet sorrow‘ is an hour long contemporary dance piece created and performed by Preethi Athreya – contemporary dancer based in Chennai.

Excerpts from the production performed at Goethe Institute, Kolkata can be seen at

 (The Chair section)

and

(The Floor section)

Copyrights of photo and video – Preethi Athreya

Beautiful Thing 2

`Beautiful thing 2′ (2011) is a contemporary dance piece created and performed by Padmini Chettur (http://www.padminichettur.com) – contemporary dance maker based in Chennai.

MusicMaarten Visser

Performer – Padmini Chettur

Watch Beautiful Thing 2 here –

(This video features a performance of the work at Singapore Arts Festival 2011)

A conversation of Padmini with Zasha Colah during Untitled Exhibition 1, curated by Clarkhouse Collective, can be found here at pad.ma.

Excerpts from the conversation –
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