Three Questions, Three Discoveries 2 – Nimmy Raphel and Sanjukta Wagh


Nimmy Raphel talked about a recent piece created by her, Nidravathvam, which was based on the Ramayana. Every aspect of Ramayana has been much talked about. So how does one create something new? She worked with the characters of Kumbhakarna and Laxman. Kumbhakarna sleeps for 6 months and stays awake for 6 months. Her task then was to make the act of “sleep” meaningful. He had to have a before, during and after sleep movement. At the moment that he dies he doesn’t know whether he is awake or asleep. Lakshman gives up his sleep for 14 years. Is there a moment where he questions his decision and what would happen to him after he goes to sleep for 14 year. Figuring out movements for the two characters then was the task at hand. In the choreography, Kumbhakarna transitions from an agile interesting person to slow moving one. Lakshmana is also a fast character as he is gaining time over 14 years. Raphel needed to think of two ways of representing speed. While creating the piece, she was reluctant to write. The text must translate what’s happening on stage. She had to figure out the right words to express what she wanted to say and to split the image into two characters. The process of visualization resulted in an organic way of coming up with a solution to the dilemma. Being in a community helps as people share the experience of the painful process of creating a piece. She then concluded her presentation with a few clips from her play.

Sanjukta shares her inspiring journey as a dancer by explaining as well as demonstrating some of her beautiful work . Starting with Kathak as a child she felt limited and inadequate and felt the need to rebel, rebel against the ´female´ or ´nayika´in Kathak. But as she pursued her masters in literature she heard and found new voices. What inspired her was ´rhythm´ and poetry. In her final presentation of her masters, she portrayed a deeply progressive character of a woman from a poem through Kathak, a challenge as it was innately contradictory to the form.

After 22 years of Kathak she started studying contemporary dance in London. After that intense and life changing year, she felt that the release technique she learnt brought back in her the feminine in Kathak. She found Kathak for herself again. She came back with the need to improvise. Improvising with a clear idea of the straight line and the curved line she continues to create more work. Her journey left us in awe and inspired.