Dance Expressions 
by Radha Bhaskar, Chennai 
March 29, 2004   

Sapphire Creations Dance Workshop presented Interface 2004 - an international festival of alternative and contemporary expression at Kalamandir, Kolkata from 9th - 13th March 2004. 

This festival is a biennial event covering the disciplines of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and all possible interactions between these disciplines. It is the only International Art Event in the whole of Eastern India.

The inaugural day began with a performance titled "Dance Expressions " by the most phenomenal, renowned and widely performed contemporary dancer of India, Astad Deboo. He is the recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Creative Dance and the only contemporary performer to participate in orthodox classical festivals like Elephanta and Khajuraho Dance Festival. His ongoing work with the Action Players, a deaf theatre company from Kolkata and other deaf and dumb children around the world has been most successful. Astadís performance, though it started later than the scheduled time, was spell binding. A very sober musical background added sufficient mood.  

The exquisite light design by Sunil Shanbag highlighting the body movements very subtly helped the packed audience understand how dance is all about movement of every limb of the body. Specially, the hand movements with each finger conveying its own expression were a treat to the eyes. The footwork was another aspect, which showcased the usage of body and space in spectacular manner. Truly, Astadís style was a fine culmination of the exuberance of narrative forms and the cerebral intensity of contemporary abstraction. It was heartening to see a whole band of youngsters anchoring the show. As Astad said in his speech, when he had started practicing contemporary dance four decades ago, he was a loner. Today, it was a welcome sign to see so many youngsters taking to this as a profession. 

The next dance was by USA based Thresh Dance Company and they presented "Strings Unattached". This was a series of three contemporary pieces that have the stringed instrument as the main musical accompaniment. The three pieces were quite independent of each other in their context but the commonality of the musical instrument as strings held them as the eveningís ensemble work. The artistic director for this show was Preethi Vasudevan who is well trained in all systems of dance and also a creditable performer and choreographer. Light design was by Marcus Doshi. The dancer included Preethi, Denesa Chan and Joy Havens. 

Radha Bhaskar is the editor of Samudhra magazine and an accomplished vocalist.