Three years after Chandralekha’s death, Delhi will get to see Sharira, the last composition produced by this maverick dancer and choreographer. Composed in 2001, Sharira is part of a tryptich which includes Raga (1998) and Shloka (1999).
All of them are choreographed in the unique dance style — a combination of the restrained movements of classical Bharatnatyam, the calisthenics of Kalaripayattu, the martial arts form from Kerala, and the tranquil fluidity of yoga — that Chandralekha came to be known for all over the world.
Chandralekha’s productions are famous for their celebration of the body, in both its sensual and spiritual aspects. Raga, for instance, choreographed as a depiction of the feminine side of men, had two bare-chested men dancing in close proximity, their movements full of homoerotic overtones.
For many, such breaks with tradition were too much to take. When Sharira was performed in Mumbai in 2001, many from the audience left because they found it too obscene.
Sharira has been performed a few times since, but mainly at international dance festivals. Like with all of Chandralekha’s choreography, this piece too is a celebration of the body, in this case “the profound and invisible female energies that can activate our outer and inner selves”.
Poet, cricket writer, yoga expert, Tishani Doshi and Shaji John, Kalaripayattu expert, will dance, accompanied by the Gundecha Brothers, singing Dhrupad.
Kathak meets korea
India has a long tradition of chanting, going back to the Vedas. The sound of the chanted mantra, it was believed, was the seed of sound, and created resonances that had mystical effects. The Buddhists have a similar belief in the power of ritual incantation to ready the mind for meditation.
Chetna Jalan of Kolkata-based Padatik Dance Centre, combines the two traditions in her elaborate production, E-Mo-Ko (Who Am I? A Quest For Self), that will take the stage at the Kamani Auditorium on Sunday.
The production also incorporates elements of Kathak and Zen Dance, a form of dance meditation that draws inspiration from Korean ritual dance, modern dance techniques and Sonmudo, the Korean Buddhist martial art. Jalan has got Sun Ock Lee, a renowned practioner of Zen Dance, to collaborate with her on E-Mo-Ko.
In the course of her five-year research, Jalan went to the pandits at the Ram Ghat and Hanuman Ghat in Varanasi, to Pune’s Bhandarkar Institute of Oriental Studies and Ved Shastrotejak Sabha, before finally chancing upon Baman K. Chattopadhyay, one of the few remaining experts on the Saama Veda.
With specially designed costumes and an elaborate set — a white net that signifies the web of consciousness surrounding us - E-Mo-Ko promises to be quite an experience.