Weaves that weave around the dance
- Kiran Rajagopalan
March 15, 2014
Amethyst recently organized the Chennai launch of Briana Blasko’s book Dance of the Weave - A Dialogue Between Traditional Textiles & Dance in India (Penguin Books India). Briana is a noted photographer and practitioner of yoga who currently resides in New Delhi. Her book is the culmination of six years of meticulous research and documentation throughout India.
The evening began with a lively “Mallari” by Shweta Prachande, a promising disciple of Priyadarsini Govind. Amethyst’s visionary Kiran Rao, then introduced the author and the invited speakers: Sadanand Menon, V.R. Devika, Priyadarsini Govind, Lakshmi Vishwanathan, and Priya Kapoor. Devika spoke at length about the synergy between ritual, clothing, and dance while Sadanand discussed how a dance’s inherent form influences its costume. Priyadarsini explained that the costume is “an extension of the body on stage which carries the line of the performer’s body further.”
Lakshmi, whose flair for words inspired this report’s title, praised Blasko’s efforts to bring dance and textile together into a “harmonized whole.” As a publisher, Priya complimented the book’s “beautiful rhythm” but lamented the waning interest in books on traditional Indian art. Finally, Briana addressed the gathering and spoke briefly about her experiences while creating this book.
An interesting feature of Dance of the Weave is that the iconic American fashion designer Donna Karan, wrote a succinct but heartfelt foreword to the book. Likewise, Leela Samson, in her lucid introduction, aptly summarized the physical, metaphysical, and metaphoric significance of traditional textiles in India. What follows is a compelling series of breathtaking photographs that capture the vibrant energy of Indian fabrics while dancers are in rapturous movement or in poignant moments of stillness. Briana’s photographs are exceptional because it is clear that their narrative focuses mainly on the textiles while dancers are the medium through which they come to life. There are also numerous shots which celebrate the various indigenous methods used to create these vivid textiles.
Some art lovers could be deterred by Dance of the Weave’s rather hefty price of Rs. 3000. However, quality was not compromised in either the book’s aesthetic layout or in the stunning reproductions of Briana’s photographs. More importantly, it is rare to find a book on Indian dance that not only captures movement so beautifully but also challenges readers to examine dance through a completely different lens.
Kiran Rajagopalan is a Bharatanatyam dancer based in Chennai.
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