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Danseuse draws on roots to go green

Long before ecology became the buzzword at climate change conferences in Stockholm and Rio, ancient Indian heritage had provided a spiritual home to the environmental ethos.

art and culture Updated: May 28, 2010 22:25 IST

Long before ecology became the buzzword at climate change conferences in Stockholm and Rio, ancient Indian heritage had provided a spiritual home to the environmental ethos.

Now, dancer Geeta Chandran is taking the tradition forward with a performance on the eve of the World Environment Day.

Drawing from the Bhoomi Sukta in the 12th century BC text Atharvaveda, her performance begins with a Vedic hymn to the earth.

“It talks about the need to conserve herbs and vegetation among a people with varied tongues and religious beliefs. This is true for contemporary India too,” says the Padmashri winner for 2007.

What on earth is a Gr-chakra, one wonders. “Today it is a human chakra (dilemma) to figure which direction to take,” says Chandran. “Whether we head for the grey direction which spells doom or the green path to survival. We are at a vortex point.”

An original piece that Chandran has created for her solo performance is called Lament of the Yamuna. In mythology, imbibing the water of the Yamuna — Surya’s daughter and Yama’s sister — was a protection against Yama, the messenger of death. Today, so toxic is her water that the Yamuna herself has become Yama, says Chandran. “In the piece, we ask the river about when she would regain her pristine form.”

The final two pieces of the performance are Chandran’s tributes to Kabir’s nirgun poetry, which invokes people to realise the beauty within themselves and the season of rain from Kalidas’s classic Ritusamhara.

June 4, 7 pm, Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House.

Entry by invitation. Call: 011-43503351