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A date with evolution

Kiran Segal presents a mix of the old and the contemporary in Odissi dance this coming Sunday.



`Agni - The Fire Within', a choreographic composition by Kiran Segal.

EVERY DANCER has an individual statement and style. And so it is with Kiran Segal, celebrated Odissi exponent, who will perform with her students at Kamani auditorium this coming Sunday at 6.30 p.m. The programme's title is straightforward - even academic - enough, `Rhythms and Moods of Odissi: From Traditional to Contemporary'. But when Kiran Segal talks of how her contemporary choreography has been received in the past, she has that naughty tone of voice one associates with her famous mother, nonagenarian actress Zohra Segal. "I found there were extreme reactions. Either they hated it or they loved it."

But Kiran also clearly loves it. Trained in childhood in the Uday Shankar style of dance by her mother, who was a contemporary of Uday Shankar, and later specialising in Bharatanatyam before settling down to Odissi, she also worked for many years with Prithvi theatre and remarks, "Somehow it all bursts forth. In my choreography I've used some of the grammar of Odissi, but I have also used movements that are away from the grammar. The entire music has been composed by Satyanarayan Maharana, except for `Whispering Moods', which is based on the composition of L. Subramaniam. His music inspired me to start creating the piece."

Long process

Youngsters these days don't have a natural link to classicism, she finds. "If you talk to youngsters today about classical dance, they always shrug their shoulders, so I thought why not take other issues. It's been a long process. Some things work and some don't. But I've had a lot of fun," sums up the Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee.

While the first half of the programme is based on the traditional repertoire, the second half has pieces with titles like `Agni - The Fire Within', which deals with social issues including oppression of women and infanticide; as well as `Taalaangya', which she describes as "energy coming to life".

Reactionaries have labelled her work as "messing up Odissi," but Kiran replies feistily, "I'm not making a mess of Odissi. I'm just evolving it." Besides, she adds, "What is contemporary now becomes tradition 50 years later."

This Sunday, then, for a date with evolution.

ANJANA RAJAN

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