Celebrating the sounds
December 21, 2004
|At a deaf
performance, you do not clap. You stretch up your arms and wave. As one
waved with members of the audience, there were two emotions running through
the mind. Firstly, thanking God for helping one realize one’s blessings
that are taken for granted so often, and secondly, expressing faith in
the talent of the hearing-impaired artistes, with all humility!
While Deboo continues to stretch the limits of his unique performance style through extreme physical control over his body, it was a visual delight to watch the dancers flirting with proscenium space and creating energy through combination and not competition. The movements, which were borrowed from Bharatanatyam, Kathak and even Bollywood, matched harmoniously with the carefully created music, which seemed inspired from nature on one end to trance on the other. Amit Heri, who composed and performed parts of the musical score for the evening, has already won critical acclaim as a music director for the English feature film, ‘Morning Raga’.
A major part of the choreography was based on a combination between circles and diagonals with Astad oscillating in between, becoming a focal point and a rupture, of the dance-energy. Modern choreographic pieces often suffer from acrobatic show off and fuzzy ideas, which sometimes leave an impression of creative bankruptcy. Astad’s idea of basing it on Navarasa may have appeared hackneyed but his strength in demonstrating the versatility of his imagination put all doubts to rest.
From turquoise blue, which symbolizes spirituality, to shades of orange and yellow, signifying spring, to the culmination with bright red and black, the emotions graduated, changed and interacted with the colors as the evening progressed. Astad’s costumes blended with those of the dancers except in the last piece where he appeared in the rich violet and green, symbolizing the celebration of life. It seemed the nine emotions were put to test against the backdrop of man’s eternal dilemma in choosing technology over nature and vice-versa.
Often, great artistes are remembered as performers, but rarely as gurus. Maybe, they are so busy performing that they do not have time to teach, or even if they do, they do not allow their students to flourish. An artiste beyond comparison, Astad Deboo happens to be a guru who can inspire other gurus with his dedication, commitment and a strong sense of belief in his students. It is a privilege to witness him create a dance vocabulary, which is all encompassing.
Imagine, dancing to your inner sound, which does not match with that of the world outside and then creating an atmosphere that leaves the audience spellbound. Imagine, someone who conceives it in his brain and then provides body to it. While he has made his audience rich through this work, Astad has also emerged richer through his dialogue with the hearing impaired artistes. Here, one must mention Karthika, one of the eight talented dancers, who has a very expressive face and can give any amateur classical dancer, a run for her talent!
funds to display such work is a harsh reality one has to contend with.
Are we then hell-bent on only propagating Page 3 culture or should we take
lessons from the grants made by the Royal Embassy of Netherlands for Contraposition?
Where is the Indian Government’s name in the list of contributors/sponsors?
Singh is a Bharatanatyam dancer, poet, journalist and a regular contributor