A new experience
FRAGILITY, CHOREGRAPHED by Padmini Chettur and danced by her and three other dancers, Krishna Devanandan, Sujata Goel and Malini Srinivasan was a totally new experience for the Chennai audience. Chennai has had limited exposure to contemporary dance, especially by the young experimenting Indian dancers. The venue was Museum Theatre, the occasion was the annual The Other Festival and the date was December 6.
There was only the dancers with their slow movements and the pre-recorded music score which was fragmented, disjointed and using a combination of instruments such as the saxophone, the Indian percussion instruments and spoken gibberish by the well known Theatre actress, Kalairani. Maarten Visser composed the music score which enhanced the quality of the dance.
There were no sets, the lights were more or less flat, and the costumes were in neutral colours, white and beige. The lights were operated by Natesh and allowed the viewers to view the dance without any distraction. Four dancers with their movements exploring the concept of Fragility. To give credit to the audience, they observed absolute silence.
The only sound that could be heard was the occasional clicks from the photographers. This dance was a slow, reflective and meditative exploration of movement in silence. Padmini's definition of her concept Fragility helps a little in making the experience clearer. Fragility a temporary state of being we have all experienced. Those times when we abandon our strength to confront our weaknesses. Moments when we are caught off-guard. When emotions are spontaneous. When we reveal who we really are.
Fragility is to do with walking on edge. With being vulnerable. But, it is not a literal exploration of the concept fragility. If the audience expected to see a narrative, associative, explanatory exposition of the concept, they were in for a great disappointment. The exploration was very abstract and was not directly linked to the mode of exploration. To begin with, the dancers were dancing in isolation, each following their own path of movement.
Slowly, they start connecting and towards the end, they met and leaned on each other in a movement of trust and dependence. To quote Padmini, ``The work interprets fragility at a conceptual and formal level. Fragility seeks to break the myth of the strong, beautiful dancer, an impenetrable creature that we idolise. That body which is eventually objectified. Instead we explore the human aspect of physicality. We push the boundaries of movement to the point when we are left suspended in space. We search within those aspects of movement that have nothing to do with form. What happens when a dancer is stripped of all physical tools? Its time to demytify. To decodify.'' It is a new dance language, very personal and individual and to the uninitiated it might create a problem. But, to this writer, it was the opening into a new dance world, an intense experience. The music was a parallel strain, not interpretative but suggestive and enhancing the quality of the movement.
A mental and emotional shift from understanding to experiencing. A stopping of seeking guidance from elements other than dance. An inward movement seeking an awareness to the essentials of dance. A search for the beauty and aesthetics of dance in movement in space which is the center or core of all dance.
The tautness of the body, the preciseness of movements, the suspension of limbs midway the movement, an elevation through levitation and groundedness; a transcendence which comes after a mantra like repetition and utmost concentration. That is fragility a fragile and inexplicable feeling of getting to know something new.
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