Kolam: Strangers in Indian Paradise

Kolam‘ (2014) is an 11 minutes long dance piece choreographed by Chennai-based contemporary dancer Padmini Chettur commissioned by French choreographer David Rollandas part of the contemporary performance project ‘Stranger in Indian Paradise‘ conceptualized and created by David Rolland Choréographies in association with Basement 21. It shows ten dancers walking on a 400 sq. ft. carpet decorated with a gigantic kolam. The dancers move along the curved lines halted by grids for the steps. As is the baseline of Rolland’s project (a continuation of an earlier project named ‘Stranger in the Paradise’), the dancers walk with the aid of pre-recorded audio guided scores. The stark contrast of the intense calm, concentration and sense of rhythm of the inner dancer’s self strictly following the individual set of instructions (recorded by Chettur and Rolland) through earphones, the apparently crude and chaotic background score (audible to the audience only) composed by Maarten Visser and the lighting designed by Rolland – ranging from a flat white (bright against the vivid purple of the floor) to the robotic lighting towards the end leads this short artistic statement to a dramatic high. 

Music – Maarten Visser

Carpet design – Sumant Jayakrishnan

Photography and Videography – David Rolland, the Alliance Française de Delhi

Venue – Kamani Auditorium, Delhi, India (as part of DanSe DialogueS festival, India, 2014)

Watch excerpts from the performance here or directly from the Youtube page.

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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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