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Dance to create social change
- Vijay Shanker

August 9, 2019

Drutam, Dance Ideas Lab, presented the Vitaan program that comprised two segments, Sva - the One Within, and Purushangik exploring the male persona, merging varied classical dance styles, while innovating and experimenting with different creative movements that is stylistic, pronounced and dancing together sometimes while incorporating individualistic statements of each dancer in the group, supported and complimented with powerful vocal and unusual music provided by the musical team. The program was held at mini P.L. Deshpande Auditorium in Mumbai on 28th June 2019.

Drutam, Dance Ideas Lab, has been established by Bharatanatyam exponent Anusree Bonnerjee with the intention of presenting unusual themes, while using the grammar and technique of classical dance, without diluting its dignity or grace but to create movements that is aesthetically pleasing, while creating a fine spectacle of varied movements that may be performed by the group or by an individual dancer. Over the years, it is interesting to note as to how Drutam invites dancers in different styles to join to create and perform something different relevant to the contemporary society. In fact, dance to create social change. Last year, I remember having witnessed 'KaaL' (time). As we know, the entire universe moves in perfect rhythm and if that rhythm or time cycle is not maintained, tragedy is likely to occur, creating calamity and destruction for both nature and human beings. I recollect Anusree had presented the impact of time and seasons on the life of an individual, commencing with birth, youth, old age and ultimately death. Such thematic presentations create a lasting impression on the audience.


Sva - The One Within, portrayed varied perspectives pertaining to women; Khoj - the mind space, Aina - the physical space, Astitva - the emotional space, Ansh - social space and Sampoorna - the spiritual space. The dancers were Anusree Bonnerjee in the Bharatanatyam style, Namaha Mazumdar in the Odissi style, Tanvi Palav in the Kathak style and Triya Bonnerjee. It was interesting to see how each dancer depicted the varied aspects of being a woman, with instances like the exploitation of Draupadi, the bravery of Lakshmibai of Jhansi, or the devotion of Meera for Lord Krishna. The entire presentation was quite interesting and absorbing but too many pauses in between was little distracting. Nevertheless to deal with such abstract themes is not easy and to take it further to relate it to the audience and to the society is creditable.

Purushangik, like the name suggests, featured two brilliant male dancers, Nilesh Singha for Bharatanatyam and Ayan Banerjee for Kathak. Both performed revealing the masculine spirit and vitality of male classical dancing. Nilesh's depiction of Lord Shiva in which Ravana practically removes his intestines to prove his devotion for Lord Shiva was dramatically performed and was the piece-de-resistance of the evening. Purushangik concept and choreography was by Nilesh and Ayan.

Nilesh Singha & Ayan Banerjee

The script for Sva was written by Sudipta Dhruva, concept and choreography by Anusree Bonnerjee, vocal by Radhika Sood, musical instruments like guitar, didgeridoo and hand pan by Karan Sajnani and percussion by Vaibhav Wavikar. A creative mix of poetry spoken live by the dancers, global musical instruments and traditional Indian vocals and dance presented in a contemporary manner created an unusual program with interesting exposition.

Vijay Shanker is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.

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