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.
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.
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.
It is one thing to see a performance as a product and it is another thing to wait for it, to scratch through the process as the insider and the outsider. And the matter of being in and out is one of the most interesting factors when it comes to #INTERSECT this year at IGNITE!—not just for the performers themselves, but also for the whole Gati team and of course, the audience.
The inside-outside debate is there in every collaborative creative work—how much of it is mine, how much of it is yours, how do two artists approach the much anticipated crossroad? Like just a passerby, without really paying much attention to the other, or like finding a friend—sharing a snack and a tea, or like a competitor or even a bully, claiming the road and pushing the other one off to the pavement—outside?