Kathak dancer Parwati Dutta had been poring over calligraphy in libraries and museums when she came across calligrapher Achyut Palav’s Allah Om acrylic on canvas series, which merged concepts of Islam and Hinduism. “I hadn’t seen anything more secular. Yes, it was an aesthetic experiment with the artform and it made me re-infer the idea that Kathak was deeply influenced by both Hindu and Muslim philosophies, which are constantly at war now. Religion didn’t tell anyone to kill anyone. Merging into each other’s consciousness seemed to be an answer. This could help the world,” says Aurangabad-based Dutta, who will meld the strokes of calligraphy into her production Apara Kaya. It is part of Sarvam Foundation’s annual festival “Parkaya:The Body of Another”, which will take place on January 14 at India Habitat Centre.
While Dutta was meeting calligraphers in and around Maharashtra over the last three months, almost 1,700 km away, in Kolkata, Odissi dancer Sharmila Biswas was busy pairing various elements of a textile loom with the life of Sita and her previous incarnation as Vedavati. The story goes Vedavati committed suicide because Ravana touched a strand of her hair and was reborn as Sita to kill him. “While Vedavati is the taani, the long single-coloured thread on the loom that is stubbornly straight, Sita is the bharani — soft, and the one that can be moulded,” says Biswas, who will present the concept in her production Varnajaa by using concepts of rekha, bindu, aakar and kalpana.
Meanwhile in Delhi, Bharatanatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan has been visiting various museums for miniature paintings of Krishna Leela, mostly from Rajasthan. Her production named Chitravali will “be like going through a coffee-table book with different aspects of Krishna unfolding on stage.”
The three dancers will present their productions, merging their movements with the idioms of three completely different artforms. While Dutta finds common ground between the fluidity of calligraphy and the spontaneity of Kathak, Biswas will treat textiles as an extension of herself. “I didn’t want to show the sad story of the weavers, nor the beauty of the costume. I wanted to showcase something that would transcend it all. In my piece, Sita says that I have no control over my body. I may be raped and molested and I can’t help that. But I have control over my mind and will not be affected by things done to my body. It made so much sense in today’s day and age,” says Biswas.
Vaidyanathan will step into alien territory by using Hindustani classical music instead of Carnatic classical for her Bharatanatyam production. “These paintings were created during the Bhakti era. I have picked thumris in Braj bhasha and Awadhi, so the compositions had to be in Hindustani classical. I haven’t done this before and thus creating this production has been quite a challenge,” she says.
The festival will take place between January 14 and 16 at Stein Auditorium, 7 pm onwards.
Entry is free.
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