To fall is to rise
- Supreeta Singh
Photos courtesy: Sapphire

April 4, 2015

Sunlight falls and illuminates the earth. Rain falls and melts parched souls. Leaves fall and announces the end and beginning of seasons. Nature moves in mysterious ways and in doing so, twists and turns human emotions according to its play. And what falls must rise ennobling our spirit. If we answer to that strangely evocative movement, we can create an artistic language captured in a beautiful choreography that would leave an imprint in the heart as well as the mind. Translated into dance, the fall of the human body can be an elevating and enriching experience worth cherishing.

That’s how Sapphire Quarterly Series presented its 20th quarter completing five glorious years on March 27 at ICCR, Kolkata. Called ‘Watershed,’ the quarter celebrated contemporary dance in its vivid forms punctuating each presentation with a body language that was liberating in its expressions, smooth in its delivery and exhilarating in its closure. This special event series is meant to present young artistes from various artistic disciplines with their new endeavours, recognizing them as well as celebrating established artistes, scholars, media persons and activists. The venues for this initiative are also meant to open up new non-proscenium art spaces and encourage more and more audiences to come and indulge in art like cafes, bookshops to art galleries, cultural centers and corporate boardrooms.

‘Watershed’ developed over two weeks of a grueling but liberating residency with Michel Casanovas as part of INCRES XI. Talking about the concept, Sudarshan Chakravorty, Director, Sapphire said, “Water constitutes most of our bodies and the element is basic to our innermost consciousness. The piece taps into this deep stream of consciousness and locates triggers for movement in our bodies. This is an abstract work that binds the 18 dancers in the piece in a harmony of playful conversation with their bodies and each other.”


Since 2007 Michel Casanovas has interacted with Sapphire, giving regular workshops and creative residencies in contemporary dance, awareness through movement (Feldenkrais Method) and Improvisation. “The work is about coming back to the foundation of our movements, to rediscover in them a natural flow and quality and from there, to access a way of expression today, here and now, beyond any cultural background. Through those exchanges, we have developed some choreographic works in close collaboration with the senior dancers of the Sapphire Company along with the juniors in the Sapphire Academy,” elaborated Chakravorty.

Young academy student Trishita Saha stood out with Company members Pintu Das, Koushik Das and Prasenjit Dutta who moved with finesse. The ‘Journey of Cultures’ took the audience from African beats, Oriental costumes to Retro grooves and Contemporary moves presented by children as young as four years old who entertained with their antics choreographed by young teacher Anubhav Duttagupta. This was followed by distribution of certificates to Sapphire Academy and Company students by Fabrice Etienne.

As special guest for the evening, a solo dance work from Nagaland called ‘Desert Wind’ was presented by Virieno Zakiesato (Christina) where the dance and the dancer wove a perpetual pulse becoming in turn the seed and the plant. This paved the way for EXPERIMENTS, short pieces by Sapphire Repertory members. Prasenjit Dutta presented a group work called ‘Soul’ narrating journeys that remain unfinished. Some desires are never fulfilled but the search continues. It is said that the journey is more exciting than the destination because to find is another story. A powerful and beautifully lit piece, the white costumes and special make up highlighted the theme of soul searching. It seemed like the dancers were talking of their own ever-continuing journeys as dancers where they overcome hardships everyday but continue with zeal and passion.


Travellers in Time

Next was ‘Impulse,’ a duet choreographed by Koushik Das. When two bodies and two minds are motivated to pulse together, there is an exchange of energies, movements, ideas. Sudden urges lead to strange revelations. Some touches are electric. Some experiences epiphanic. A duet built on a strong harmonic of the two dancers on stage, the connections born from good preparation and intelligent choreography were obvious. The piece was well-synced and ended in continuum.

This was followed by the final piece of this section ‘Travellers in Time.’  We grow in time. We never outgrow it. It is the great leveler. The pace could be unsettling, the delay interminable, the moment too quick but it’s the now that matters. The now moves away as soon as it comes. We cannot relive the past. We cannot live in the future. But the now could be eternal if we could live it. This group work choreographed by Ankita Dutta Gupta and multimedia executed by Sougat Dutta spoke of time and its varying lengths, paces and perceptions. The multimedia added an abstract edge to the piece and the overall evening. The subtle costumes highlighted the brilliance of this young choreographer.

By popular demand the evening ended with a repeat performance of ‘Watershed’ in which the dancers surprisingly displayed an energy and variety in improvisation even brighter than the first performance. While the applause continued and the dancers beamed on stage having successfully delivered their creativity to a zealous audience, it was time to engage in conversations with the audience that had gathered to support the cause of contemporary dance in the city and made Sudarshan Chakravorty and Paramita Saha, the directors of Sapphire start thinking of how they could surpass the benchmark set by the evening in the next Quarterly.

The event was attended by renowned personalities like painter Eleena Banik, actress Swastika Mukherjee, dancer Alokananda Roy, French Consul General Fabrice Etienne, Minister of Tourism Bratya Basu, industrialist Sanjay Budhia, Alliance Francaise Director Stephane Amalir and other dignitaries.