Let’s Take a Collective Jump!

Preethi Athreya‘s Condition of Carriage on 16th October brought a stunning end to the Delhi phase of IGNITE! 2016.

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In this work, Preethi and her team together search for an “honest, functional body” and the visual as well as intellectual power of its raw physicality, and in that process they address various politics associated with it. For example, through its almost gender-neutral treatment of the body, but with slight conscious tweaking, it plays with or against cliched readings of gendered bodies.

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A Dancing Girl

Rajyashree Ramamurthi

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What do I know about the Dancing Girl statuette from Mohenjo-Daro?
– That it is a small bronze figurine of a pubescent girl wearing bangles and some jewellery in what seemed to me as a predecessor of the odissi tribhanga stance.
– That it was just assumed that she is a dancing girl because of her posture and adornment.
– That Gregory Possehl – an archaeologist – called it “the most captivating piece of art from the Indus site”.
Captivating, it must have been for choreographer and performer Sujata Goel; enough to inspire her to develop the full length work – titled the same – that was featured on Saturday 15, October at the contemporary dance festival – IGNITE!

Engulfed in darkness, you wait in silence for the work to approach. And then…
You see what resembles an arrow head parallel to the floor pointing stage left. It is the bent elbow joint but almost before you have time to figure out which part of the dancer’s body it maybe, you are sealed in darkness once again. The next time you see two mounds about a foot and half off the ground that meet, creating an angle and opening out into a triangular structure towards the ground.

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The Thought-Provoking Defects of the Victimized Body

Performer Kalyanee Mulay, along with Vishnuprad Barve, has choreographed unSeen as a statement of dissent. Her on-stage statements address problems which are relevant in our present gendered world. But interestingly, at IGNITE! 2016, on the evening of Friday the 14th, her poignant performance came with its own set of problems, which are part of interesting debates within the politics of expression, creation, activism and art.

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Kalyanee is trained in theater forms and her body is not a dancer’s body in the traditional sense; this is a tradition which is not only classical but also contemporary. In fact, everyday body-shaming in India is probably more of a present-day truth than fifty years earlier, thanks also to the current self-projective consumerist lifestyle and the Western aesthetic hierarchy—simplistically put.

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A Delicious Masterclass

Sujata Goel’s masterclass was possibly the only moment in the festival so far that could be labeled as ‘good fun’, at the same time introducing the participants to serious choreographic ideas.

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Seven participants played games based on tasks regarding contact and compositions, as she conducted the session. It was a delicious two hours at the middle of the festival cum conference hullaboo. Just clean, crunchy thoughts about the body and its creations. What were the recipes behind this deliciousness?

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The Unity Myth

Can a person become five at the same time? Can five become one? Dancer/Choreographer Daniel Kok presented Cheerleader of Europe at IGNITE! 2016 to question the myths around the concept of unity, integrity and their power politics.

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Daniel’s questions are on the most apparent level directed at the European countries as to how they perceive unity. Dramaturgically, he breaks his performance into two major factions. One, when he is imitating a performative approach in order to establish statements, by largely using irony as a tool in his physical and facial expressions as well as his dialogues, which take up the form of either rap songs or slogans or army commands.

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Two, when he delves into a more casual conversational mode — even personal narratives. In fact, a personal narrative is what he starts his performance with — already making a very debatable political statement with that.

The first approach is directly satirical in its implementation of stereotypes of gender and race — both physically and verbally.

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While @Gati…

IGNITE! 2016, based on the theme of Form, Identity and Dissent, is running. Anyone who has organized a festival of this dimension can vouch for how physically and mentally taxing this could be for the organizers! This week is a high-strung one at Oddbird Theater for the Gati Dance Forum team.

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A battle is on between the vibes of the constant preparation, the fatigue that comes with it, and the cheerfulness which is inherent to the team.

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So some of them decide to take a breath of fresh air on this morning and visit their spiritual and professional home @Gati…

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…to vent it all out thorough spending a bit of time for themselves while also waiting for today’s first program–Vinaykumar‘s master class,…

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Claiming the Gendered Public Space

The program on October 10th, 2016 at IGNITE! held at Oddbird Theater was a lot about claiming the public space. For example it started with the film screening of the dance film SPEAR that spoke largely about Australian aboriginal men finding the meaning of their life on everyday urban streets.

The two short performances that followed the screening, spoke volumes about the same topic, in a very interesting way.

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Let us view these two performances in the light of questions around the gendered performing body and the aesthetic associations that we make with it. The ongoing exhibition in the same venue with images from choreographer Chandralekha’s works in fact made these performances even more interesting to watch, with photos verging on eroticism portraying male dancers in close contact on one side, and photos depicting the Yoni with women dancers at provocative angles.

Keeping at par with Deluge, which was performed on the 9th at the same space by Rajan Rathore with Anpu Verkey’s film based on urban decay, Deepak Kurki Sivaswamy and Manju Sharma’s choreographies: NH7 and Rush Hour visited similar topics on streets and everyday life with their physical and visual representations, and highlighted their multiple hierarchies.

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NH7

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Reading SPEAR

Some questions came up at the opening performances at IGNITE! on October 9, and then traversed and lingered during the program last night at the same venue, OddBird. Questions around collaborative creations—of course, but also around gender, race and appropriation of social issues, or even an appropriation of the concept of resistance.

Last night’s program comprised of a film screening and two short performances. During this screening of Director/Choreographer Stephen Page’s debut feature film SPEAR, some of those same questions came up, carrying some interesting and some troubling connotations.

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The film was Page’s effort (2015) to bring Bangarra Dance Theatre’s work under the same name, to the film medium. The narrative revolved around a man named Djali—played by Hunter Page-Lochard. This young man stood on the streets of Sydney and visualized himself as going back to his aboriginal roots, while trying to understand what his real existence in his urban, modern world meant. He saw his own reflection in other lost and restless aboriginal souls—torn between their urban existences (upside down realities, smeared with white dust, wings chopped off) and their irresistible roots to the wilderness, which they continuously, secretly desired for.

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