Delhi-based Odissi dancer-choreographer Rekha Tandon and her film-maker husband Michael Weston,began a project called the Raghurajpur Lila Project in Puri,Orissa,in 2005. The idea was to teach self-sustaining livelihood through the rural performing arts reshaped for the contemporary audiences.
Four years later,Tandon and Weston,through their dance academy,Dance Routes,brought the untapped talent of these rural children to the metropolitan stage to showcase their first contemporary production Dhara a blend of traditional dance forms like Odissi with yoga and tantra.
This dance event is a result of over 200 workshops that have been held as a part of the project. It takes a look at folk dances by blending yoga and tantra and,more importantly,the ease with which village children adapt to it given the right training, says Weston,who has been living in India for 11 years and has earlier also documented the tribal music of the adivasis.
As five students from the Gurukul performed a variety of traditional dance forms including the mask dance and gotipua at the do,it was supplemented with a soundscape that had tantric chants on traditional Odissi beats,followed by songs that the priests of Jagannath temple sang. These are original singing pieces
and chants by the priests, adds Weston,who did visual projections of murals and pattachitra paintings with English subtext.
Dance Routes now plans to take only the video documentation of this project to IIC on February 2.