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Techniques and innovation

A workshop on innovative choreographic works and a Kathak performance with an interactive session were the highlights of the week gone by. A review by Manjari Sinha.

Manjari Sinha |

Gati Dance Forum, working in the field of contemporary dance, was founded in the year 2007. The pioneering arts initiative, conceived and run by some dance professionals, aims to create opportunities, infrastructure and most of all a sustainable positive environment for independent dance work.

It also provides opportunity for vibrant engagement with contemporary dance through workshops and projects that inspire the like-minded dancers to reflect and innovate, addressing areas like pedagogy, outreach, research and creation.

Body Space Time: Some Choreographic Sketches, presented at the Gati Studio last week, felt like a celebration of these worthwhile workshops and projects. It showcased the innovative choreographic works at the end of its recent four-month course on dance technique and choreography, undertaken by Gati from January to May.

Established practitioners were invited to mentor artists-in-residence, focusing on understanding of embodied dance technique, compositional skills and an overview of the contexts within which the contemporary dance functions. The resulting Choreographic Sketches presented this evening, left a remarkable impression.

The evening opened with Rough Work, an intriguing idea conceived and choreographed by Greeny Francis, exploring the possibilities of free improvisation, where space encouraged the audience to attempt a number of activities, that became a part of performance even by the untrained spectators. A map was handed down the moment one entered the venue, to explore various options suggested.


Choreographer Greeny Francis photo by Varun Sharma
Choreographer Greeny Francis. (Photo: Varun Sharma)


The space for remembrance, for instance, had inland letters where one could write a note to someone, or leave his or her own address for someone else to write. The Folding Desk had people learning how to fold an airplane through Origami. Flying it at the Flight Launch Area, one became a performer, where the body movements were being recorded and projected as dance. The natural but alert body was performing without the stress of performance or deliberately showing off.

Next came Samara Chopra in Self Portrait, created by her body itself, the vehicle through which the self moves and manifests itself. The light designing by Deepa Dharmadhikari and Samara played an important role in this piece that opened in the pitch dark space, creating a canvas on which the nude portrait was being painted through extremely slow and controlled body movements that people watched with bated breath.

Vaishnavi Mannava in Cat’s Cradle performed with choreographic assistance by Greeny Francis exploring the knots and patterns created through the loops of the hanging rope, by the two performers. Conversations on Consent, performed by Archana Thiyagarajan and Pandurang together, was a dynamic conversation that revolved around No, Yes, or Maybe.

Give Weight to Me, When One Walks Out Of Two’ and the concluding piece by Indranjan Banerjee, were all different because each and every choreographer had a very individualistic and specific way, as if the mentors just helped them to find their own self, without pushing. The mentors at Body Space Time comprised Surjit Nongmeika pam, Navtej Johar, Mirra and Preethi Athreya alongside Gati members. It was indeed an interesting evening of contemporary dance supported by Goethe Institut MMB, Royal Norwegian Embassy and Inlaks India Foundation.



The talented Kathak exponent Deepti Gupta, a dedicated disciple of Guru Rajendra Gangani, and the founder-president of Trayam Cultural Foundation, organised Jigyasa, an interactive Kathak concert at the Triveni Kala Sangam Lecture Hall. Deepti feels that apart from the practical side of Kathak that the children naturally enjoy, they must also be encouraged to think on their own because she finds that the curious, young minds are full of curiosity.

It was an admirable initiative of Deepti Gupta to showcase not just the Kathak performance of her young students but also take care of their natural curiosity by following it with an interactive session, where they could ask questions to the discerning audience, including some of the Gurus.



The evening opened with a couple of performances, first by the youngest lot, who presented Ganesh Vandana along with the Ganesh Paran, Tode and Tukde. This was followed by a Trivat-like composition in raga Malkauns, performed by the senior students. The thoughtfully-conceived and choreographed items offered equal opportunity to varied age groups to perform with full confidence.

Although the young aspirants have to go a long way practising and polishing their art, it was a delight to find young students asking questions and listening to the answers with rapt attention. Deepti’s initiative to provide young Kathak students a rare opportunity to put forth their doubts, queries and opinion regarding the art to a mentoring panel, deserves kudos for her novel approach to carry forward the tradition.