Day 3: From the stage to the screen
- Veejay Sai, Bangalore
November 30, 2011
Ok! Persistence pays! Probably seeing the inflexible organizers and dancers, even the clouds vanished making way to a starlit sky. On the third day of the Namma Dance Utsav, Bengaluru, a superb eclectic mix of six dance films was screened at the open-air amphitheatre in UB city. Inaugurating the evening was eminent playwright and director, Bangalore’s very own Mahesh Dattani.
A smart selection of short films was made by the Natya STEM Dance Kampni and the NDUB creative director Bhushan Bagadia, a graduate of the New York Film Institute, for the event. The evening opened with ‘Spellbound,’ a film on famous Odissi dancer Ramli Ibrahim and his Sutra Dance Company that has made untiring efforts to propagate dance in Malaysia. The stunning visuals of Ramli and his team dancing to a ‘Mangalacharan’ and ‘Saraswati Vandana’ left the audiences fascinated and eagerly waiting for the next movie of the evening. Ramli might be the world’s best male Odissi dancer in a long time to come.
As a part of audience-education measures through dance, a series of excerpts from popular movies on dance followed. The second movie screened was ‘Queens for a Day,’ an experimental and popular French film directed by Pascal Magnin in 1996. Set in the Swiss Alps, the visuals show treacherous and joyous leaps of choreographed dance movements. Displaying these measures as a metaphor for the existence of dance movements as one with nature and its surroundings were six passionate dance freaks and their tribute to nature. The third movie for the evening was a brilliantly executed black and white short film titled ‘Cornered’ directed by Michael Downing. Showing what amazing camera work can do to its subject, in this case a dancer utilizing the right angles of an unlikely corner, bring to life rhythmic patterns almost defying gravity. The film reflected less on dance but more on the art of filming in the process.
The fourth screening was excerpts from ‘Maya to Matter,’ a series of lecture-demonstrations conducted by Guru Maya Rao. This might possibly be the most authentic, authoritative and exhaustive documentations available on the history of Indian choreography and its various nuances. It is a movie every dancer and choreographer must possess in order to educate themselves about the various aspects of dance. The fifth movie for the evening was the famous ‘A Village Trilogy’ directed by Laura Taler. Reminding one of the earliest ears of black and white cinema, the movie had flashes of noir and interesting choreographic experiments by film makers and dancers alike, in the light of political displacement that occurred around the World War II era.
The sixth movie for the evening ‘Rest in Peace’ directed by Annick Vroom and choreographed by Hans Hof Ensemble is a brilliant take of four siblings who head out to bury the coffins of their parents. Back home bizarre revelations about their parents await them in secret drawers that they discover eventually. With amazing cinematography and dark comedy, the movie had audiences in splits. The final screening was the popular documentary ‘Dances of Ecstasy’ directed by Michelle Mahrer and Nicole Ma. A documentary that subtly portrays the philosophy of trance via dance transcending cultures, right on from the night clubs of Manhattan to the whirling dervishes of Turkey, covers ancient and modern rituals associated with dance. It would easily compliment Oliver Sacks‘s book Musicophilia in its video format. What is it about dance that makes one just want to be an uncompromising part of it unlike no other performing art?
The events of the third day of the Namma Dance Utsav concluded with leaving audiences on a thoughtful note about dance.
Veejay Sai is a writer, editor and a culture critic.