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to be danced
- Madhushree Basu

September 15, 2017

On 8th September 2017, Goethe-Institut Chennai, presented Chennai-based contemporary choreographer Anoushka Kurien's third independent work. to be danced - a 45 minutes long solo - "lies in the space between why we move and the need to begin dancing, ranging between impulse and what becomes interaction," says Anoushka.

Anoushka has trained and worked with choreographer Padmini Chettur for many years. She had her formal dance training at Trinity Laban, London and was also trained in Yoga and Pilates. Currently, along with pursuing her choreographic work, she teaches Creative Movement. In to be danced, there is a fidgeting negotiation of the performer's body with the outer and certain inner spaces as well as the multiple projections of the body within those spaces. The apparently casual, but inwardly gritty ownership claimed by this body over the auditorium stage and the ground in front, the minimalistic light and the subtle play of the sound together lay the piece like an intricately woven object. The projections - abstract shapes turning into known faces and squeezing back into Rorschach-like symmetries - now reversing, now joining along the deliberately asymmetrically shifting body of the dancer, acquire lives of their own. Suddenly, a strange humour rises from these interactions, explaining the riddle that Anoushka hands down to her audience, in a manner cross-bred between metaphysics and Dr. Seuss:

"to be danced / by the one on the left and the right / together we question the predictable newness of preferably old things / and the eagerness to fill a room with words / I give instead one two no three of me / to move the ground as we choose

to be danced at the end / with humour.

because what is a foot doing / without its remembrance of bells / making dance in madras? / making dance in madras."

Anoushka says that her choice of interaction with the projections hammering her own images (one onto / into /out of / against another) comes from working alone for extensive periods of time. This, the last few lines of her 'poem' above, and the fact that an increasing number of performers these days choose to work along projections, say something about the alienated socio-economic conditions left for the artists to work with. But instead of falling victim to that, Anoushka's play with multiplicity of the self-image "in the selfie era" digs a quirky statement critiquing what Rod Tweedy calls "rather quaint, old-fashioned view of the isolated, 'rational' individual" forced upon our societies as the human ideal for centuries. Performances such as hers, has the capability of amazing the audience by reproving that there is no end to the means through which the performing body can become political.

Credits include: Choreography and performance: Anoushka Kurien, light: M. Natesh, sound: Darbuka Siva, film: Deepa Vaswani, photography: Kunal Daswani & Deepa Vaswani, technical support: Raymond Selvaraj and other supports by the Basement 21 team.