Purush Perspectives 1: 173 Chakkars

To grow in dance is not to learn new items or even make new items. To grow in dance is to learn something fresh and to stimulate one’s thinking to the depth where one feels the way one felt when one took that big step – that big step which you were not sure would take you across. That big step which put fear and excitement in you, that big step which is a big risk. Fear of failure sinks you so low that when you spring out of that trampoline you are propelled that much higher. Part of why I make the effort to linger on in Madras during the season is to become excited, to grow and to be transformed. Purush evenings didn’t disappoint on this count.

I have seen a Kathak swirl before, even enjoyed it, but it was the Deboo swirl that I really experienced! I didn’t just watch and enjoy it, but I experienced it because it spurred me into action. I felt compelled to respond. I grabbed my camera and started creating – my own rhythmic interpretation through camera clicks. I captured the swirls, with a heightened awareness of the space, the time and the sound. 173 is a mighty lot of swirls! But each one of them was giving way to something different. Once there in blue, gone in a thrice, but there in orange, gone in a thrice, there is yellow, green, pink, and then gone. He was hanging in the air!

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Part 1 of the grand chakkars!

We are more often in a state of undance than dance. The contemporary idiom is so good at bringing us out of undance, and then letting us free. It unbinds us from the rigid and the bounded. This bit of contemporary dance by Astad Deboo at the Purush Festival in Madras on the 20th of December 2013 was a well-chosen set of three pieces titled Dance Expression. It was introduced carefully by Anita Ratnam, the curator of the Festival, cautioning the audience against frenzied photography during moments of silence during the piece. This was well-advised as the gaps in between were better in relative silence. Superbly synchronised with the music and brilliantly choreographed lighting all created an effect that was memorable. It was an intriguing piece. One could discern the blithe move of an experienced dancer, but doing some unusual and unconventional movement.

Deboo is a contemporary dancer with an Indian restraint, according to Deboo himself! Put like that I envisage an immediate link to my world. I was beginning to understand. And then it happened! The penny dropped! And long may it stay dropped!

Now it’s your turn!

Chamu Kuppuswamy

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