A Report 

Dance mania in December  

‘Contraposition’ by Astad Deboo and students of Clarke School for the Deaf, Chennai 
- Dec 9, 2004 at Chinmaya Heritage Centre, Chennai  
Text & photos: Lalitha Venkat 

December 20, 2004

Contraposition, a new deaf work was specially choreographed by contemporary dancer Astad Deboo, on invitation to be part of the opening ceremony and cultural program of the 20th Deaf Olympics in Melbourne, Australia in January 2005. The production, which has involved 3 months of intensive rehearsals from the initial planning, features Astad and 8 girls from the Clarke School for the Deaf, Chennai (H.Mahalakshmi, T Mahalakshmi, S Jamuna Rani, H G Divya, S Gayathree, R Karthika, N Meenakumari and M V Silsha).  
Astad has been working with the deaf for the past 16 years. In Contraposition, he explores the navarasas, using space, rhythm, patterns and imagery. Kathakali and Bharatanatyam are woven into contemporary movements. Starting with invocation, the moods vary from a peacock dance to robotic movements to fear, hopelessness, sadness, anger, romance, happiness and so on.   

With so much of hard work put in by the whole team, it would have been a pity not to share the joy of working on Contraposition with viewers in Chennai where all the rehearsals took place, in Bangalore where the music was composed by Amit Heri, in Mumbai where Astad is based and in India’s capital city Delhi. So, the 4-city India tour precedes the performance in Australia. 

At dress rehearsal

Added to performances in the metro cities, Astad and the girls wanted to share the work with children of deaf schools. So, the morning of Dec 9 saw a nearly 600 strong audience of deaf children from six Chennai schools, as well as students of Padma Seshadri High School. The children sat in rapt attention through the one-hour program. At the end of the show after lots of hand waving to show appreciation and applause, every child, big and small, made a beeline for the stage to shake hands with Astad and the dancers - an absolutely amazing and over-whelming experience.                  

It was indeed a wonderful world premiere for Contraposition.  

(Presented by the Astad Deboo Dance Foundation).