How do you reconstruct a 30-year-old dance piece created by the long-lasting Chandralekha?

Dancers performing the reconstructed ‘Prana’ at Spaces in Chennai

Dancers performing the reconstructed ‘Prana’ at Areas in Chennai
| Picture Credit score: Karthik

Somethings don’t change with time. Happily. Just like the comforting silence of Areas, the sprawling tree-lined area for the performing arts, one in all iconic dancer-choreographer Chandralekha’s many creations.

It’s a heat, humid night. The solar has set and you’ll nonetheless hear the crows caw. The intimate naked proscenium is lit by mellow lights. There may be nothing ornamental in regards to the presentation — a reconstruction of Chandralekha’s standard work ‘Prana’. The unfussy costume appears to emphasize the essential factor of the choreographer’s aesthetic — to make the transferring physique clearly seen. The no-make up look retains the concentrate on the bodily exploration of the piece. The small and concerned viewers is seated on dhurries, chairs and granite slabs. The recording of B. Krishnamurthy’s singing of Dikshitar’s kritis and Ellappa Pillai’s (Chandralekha’s guru) jathi rendition don’t overpower the visible.

The piece that blends dance and yoga has the physique and breath as its core. By means of outstretched legs and arms, bending of the torso, highly effective stamping of the ft, and sleek leaps and jumps, it explores the uncooked vitality of the physique and the dynamics of the actions when freed of all types of narratives.

Watch | Padmini Chettur speaking about reconstructing Chandralekha’s standard work ‘Prana’ at Areas

| Video Credit score:
Chitra Swaminathan

The 16 dancers who staged the reconstructed ‘Prana’ rehearsed for 4 hours on daily basis over two weeks to grasp and imbibe the spirit and intent of the unique work. All of it occurred at a workshop carried out by Padmini Chettur, Meera Krishnamurthi and Krishna Devanandan, who’ve labored with Chandralekha for over a decade. “The hassle was to not rekindle nostalgia however to maintain alive her works on the stage and within the our bodies of younger college students of dance,” stated Padmini throughout a post-performance interplay with the viewers. Members on the workshop had been allowed to query, critically analyse and have unconstrained conversations about Chandralekha’s method. March Dance, the annual modern dance pageant organised by Basement 21 in collaboration with Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan in Chennai, made this attainable.

Public sharing of Chandralekha’s reconstructed ‘Prana’

Public sharing of Chandralekha’s reconstructed ‘Prana’
| Picture Credit score:

Understanding dance historical past

With various modern work occurring within the dance world at this time, Chandralekha’s motion vocabulary might not appear novel, however few choreographers have been in a position to put their very own stamp on the artwork kind like she did. As a result of not all these wanting to step into a brand new terrain honour and perceive the historical past of dance. Therefore, reconstruction of works that influenced artistes and generated tendencies is important. It’s an intriguing course of because it includes mounting an previous work on a brand new set of dancers, and the problem of not compromising with the choreographer’s imaginative and prescient and elegance.

“The training on the workshop needed to be given a completion with a public sharing. Reconstruction for us started with notating the piece from movie information. Meera and I then taught it to the dancers relying on their capacities. Additionally, the contributors got here with completely different dance experiences. So some shifting and changes needed to be completed. Some had no engagement with yoga and kalari. They picked it up right here. The openness was satisfying,” stated Padmini.

Reconstruction are usually seen as makes an attempt to resurrect danceworks which were long-forgotten. Quite the opposite, it includes a considerable quantity of creativity because it needs to be set in a contemporary context and body.

“It was not re-performance within the true sense as a result of the dancers had been re-imagining the piece, created 30 years in the past, within the now. For me, this was near live-archiving of Chandra’s work, which I believe is extra important than movies or mental texts,” stated Padmini.

March Dance facilitated the reconstruction of Chandralekha’s ‘Prana’ by Padmini Chettur, Meera Krishnamurthy and Krishna Devanandan

March Dance facilitated the reconstruction of Chandralekha’s ‘Prana’ by Padmini Chettur, Meera Krishnamurthy and Krishna Devanandan
| Picture Credit score:

In keeping with Meera, “It’s important to bodily incorporate what is going on round you. That can’t be taught, it could solely be felt.” Kim Jones, a former Martha Graham Firm dancer, who, in 2013, reconstructed the legendary choreographer’s misplaced 1935 solo work, ‘Imperial Gesture’ had identified how the work was massively impacted by the rise of fascism in Europe, employees’ rights, and the emergence of American expressive dance.

Summing up the emotion of changing into conscious of 1’s physique, breath and surrounding, a younger dancer after the workshop stated she is going to now return with a toolbox of sources that she may apply in her practise sooner or later.

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