April 25, 2013
'Encounter' is an event hosted by Basement 21, offering young contemporary art-makers a platform to present their work at Chennai. On the 10th of April, Basement 21 came up with two fresh short pieces created by promising young dancers Anoushka Kurien and Akila.
'Restricted view' by Anoushka explored a choice of four tasks she appointed to her body and its surrounding space – flipping, rotating, sliding and resizing. Supported by M Natesh on lights, Anoushka created an illusory thirteen minutes with a series of often symmetric sets of movements, abiding her own rules, also playing very intelligently with various shadows – elongated, or punctuated. Going along with the background music created by Darbuka Siva, she constantly changed her spatial references and the quality of constraints in her movements - shifting the degree of smoothness in her movements as well as the mood of her presentation, from an apparently lightweight, unregulated motion of an almost free body barely attached to an axis or a stand (which, in practice had to be extremely controlled by the center of the body for the movement to look so casual but unexaggerated), up to a level of heavy scratchy friction. ‘Restricted view’ ended with a split in the view of the audience with the help of a slightly larger than life projection of the dancer – allowing only certain parts of her body to be highlighted, restricting the rest, one split part complementing the other.
Akila’s ‘Counter’ kept a geometric tension alive throughout the performance between the body of her co-dancer Aditi Bheda and her own. Contrasting Anoushka’s comparatively fluid composition, Akila played with her movements with a weighty, mechanical grace, lines and angles. The piece developed through a continuous role-reversal of the two bodies. To start with it was a choreography of two separate entities countering each other with individual choices of sets of movements - emphasizing one and only one body part after another, thus also countering the integrity of one’s own body. But slowly they turned into a single torso, trying to separate away and in this process tugging the other along. For example, the right hand, in the process of trying to get away from the body through the right upper corner, pulls the left foot above the ground in perfect balance. In this case, as if just incidentally the right hand and the left foot happened to belong to two different bodies technically amalgamated into one but with a pillar of empty space in between dynamically framed by the body contours. The fifteen minutes long piece, pacing up competing with the deceitfully (un)systematic rhythmic pattern created by Maarten Visser, was enhanced by the almost obsessive preciseness and sense of anatomy of each movement in both dancers.
The event concluded with a conversation between the two dance-makers and Padmini Chettur. Both Anoushka (since 2003) and Akila (since 2005) have trained and performed with Padmini Chettur Dance Company. Anoushka initially trained in Ballet and later in 2011-12, studied at Trinity Laban, London (where she first explored the beginnings of 'restricted view'). Akila trained in Bharatanatyam and graduated in Carnatic music as a vocalist and has been performing for more than ten years. Aditi is a theater artist and has trained and performed with Padmini Chettur for last two years.